REPORT ON THE DISSERTATION PRESENTED FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
Author: Mark G.V. Hoffman
Dissertation: Psalms 22 (LXX 21) and the Crucifixion of Jesus
Reader: Wayne A. Meeks, Professor, Religious Studies, Yale University
The argument of this dissertation is presented with such modesty and sobriety, and the evidence is gathered and analyzed so painstakingly and exhaustively, that its bulk might obscure its substantial and original contribution. Mr. Hoffman's industry in gathering the possible and probable intertextual connections with every verse of Psalm 22 within Hebrew scripture, in the ancient translations, in a wide variety of Jewish interpretive literature from Qumran to rabbinic midrash, in patristic commentaries, and within the New Testament is quite awesome. More important, his labors have been guided by a carefully thought-out method, informed by a keen understanding of the ways in which particular quirks of ancient texts or particular resonances or tensions among related texts generated families and traditions of interpretation. Hoffman enables us to think our way into the minds of ancient interpreters and thus to make judgments about the probabilities of echoes and allusions from the inside out, rather than by imposing some a priori construct on the texts. The result is a book that is not easy to read, but one that is filled with illuminating discoveries and possibilities. The solidity of the deceptively modest results is directly proportional to the meticulousness of his labor and the almost ascetic honesty of his judgments. This will be a work that anyone henceforth who wants to make reliable claims about the ways in which early Christians developed their scripture-based portraits of Jesus as the crucified Messiah must take very seriously.