Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Brent Strawn sits in a pew in Duke Chapel holding a Hebrew Bible.

Brent A. Strawn, D. Moody Smith Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School and Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, has won a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant for a project to create the first critical, eclectic edition of the first 50 chapters of the book of Psalms.

The $300,000 grant, along with a potential additional $150,000 NEH grant if a $150,000 donor match is raised, will support “’I Shall No Longer Want’ (Psalm 23:1): The Critical Edition of the Hebrew Psalter” (CEHP), a three-year project that will prove invaluable to biblical scholars and translators and, ultimately, all readers of the Psalms.

The project will move beyond existing scholarly editions that use one manuscript as their basic text and will instead collate and evaluate the best readings of the text of the Hebrew Bible from all available sources and publish those in an eclectic edition with full textual commentary. Among these sources are the important Psalms manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls that have been missing or inadequately treated in previous editions.

“The world has waited more than two thousand years for a critical text of one of the greatest classics of religious literature, the book of Psalms,” said Strawn. “When complete, all who study, translate, or read the Psalms will be able to say ‘I no longer want’—a play on Psalm 23:1—for a critical and reliable edition of a work that has played an inestimable role in the Western world for millennia. The Psalms are also a centerpiece of religious devotion in Judaism and Christianity; CEHP will be the basis for all treatments, whether academic or devotional, from here forward.”

Strawn will serve as principal investigator and director of the project along with co-director Drew Longacre, visual exegete and head of software development at Cambridge Digital Bible Research.