In 2012, two South African scholars with a keen interest in Old Testament Apocryphal Literature, Pierre J Jordaan of the North-West University (NWU) and Helen Efthimiadis-Keith of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), began organising a conference on non-traditional hermeneutical approaches to this body of literature. Given Efthimiadis-Keith’s interest in psychological interpretation and Jordaan’s interest in body and space as hermeneutical categories, the conference was titled Body, Psyche and Space in Old Testament Apocryphal Literature. Knowing that they were not the first to follow alternative ways of interpreting the apocrypha, Jordaan and Efthimiadis-Keith invited scholars such as Athalya Brenner, George Nickelsburg and Jan Willem van Henten who had already been working with these texts in non-traditional ways.
The conference was funded by South-Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), UKZN and NWU. In fulfillment of NRF requirements, two workshops were held at UKZN and NWU in order to prepare students and junior academics to present at the conference. The call to papers yielded an overwhelming response from as far afield as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and other parts of Africa. The conference took place 14-17 July 2013 and proved a valuable learning experience and opportunity for networking. The ten papers included in this volume are one of the outcomes of this confernce. The papers deal primarily with three apocryphal books, the most popular of which is 2 Maccabees. George Nickelsburg makes an interesting link between 1 Enoch and 2 Maccabees in terms of space: 1 Enoch works with a cosmic space, whereas for 2 Maccabees space is the land of Israel and the temple in Jerusalem, God’s holy space. Jan Willem van Henten scrutinizes 2 Maccabees narratologically in terms of space and argues that the bodies of the main characters are focal points in terms of space. Eugene Coetzer comes to the conclusion that, while heavenly space in 2 Maccabees is God’s dwelling place, the role of the temple as his earthly concern cannot be underestimated. Lastly, Pierre Jordaan shows the importance of 2 Maccabees as a narrative and presents a new interpretation of the word heart in 2Macc 1: 1-10a.
Judith is the second most popular book in this volume. Risimati Hobyane uses Greimas to analyze the book spatially. He contends that actorialization and spatialisation play an important role in saving the Jewish people and their religion. Two Nigerian scholars, Paul Omuegbuchulam and Nneka Okafor, offer an interesting, African contextual interpretation of Judith. They argue that women do not necessarily reach their goals through their bodies, but also through hard work. Nicholas Allen presents a thought-provoking interpretation of Judith titled Embodying Holiness in a G-dless Space.
The third most popular book is Susanna. Philip Nolte comes to the conclusion that Susanna and its ethical implications can have no impact in a violent South African environment. Chris de Wet, using mainly Foucauldian insights, concludes that Susanna’s body is viewed as a strategy for resisting one form of patriarchy in support of another. Lastly, Jacobus de Bruyn argues that, in Psalm 151, David is recreated as a vessel or embodiment of God’s authority. During the process of recreation, David is elevated from a human-space structural environment to partake in God’s god-space. All papers were peer reviewed by the editors. The paper of the one editor, Pierre J. Jordaan, was reviewed by two external editors.
Pierre J. Jordaan and Helen Efthimiadis-Keith