Jennie Grillo, assistant professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School, has received a 2014 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise and also a W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research fellowship to conduct research in Israel.
Grillo was one of 10 recipients of the Lautenschlaeger Award for her first book, The Story of Israel in the Book of Qohelet: Ecclesiastes as Cultural Memory, published in 2012 by Oxford University Press. The book challenges the widespread understanding of Ecclesiastes as a book in the Bible that secularizes and denationalizes the concept of God. In Grillo’s account, reading Ecclesiastes as a learned essay in processing Israel’s cultural memory reveals its strong ties to the rest of Jewish and Christian Scripture.
The Lautenschlaeger Award is given annually to 10 scholars from across academic disciplines. Previous winners have included Duke Divinity School Professors Kavin Rowe and Anathea Portier-Young.
This year’s winners are based at institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, and Finland. They also include Matthew Thiessen, a graduate of Duke University’s Ph.D. program in religion who is now an assistant professor of New Testament at St. Louis University.
The 10 award recipients will receive $10,000 each at a ceremony in May at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
In the second award, Grillo was selected by the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem as the George A. Barton Fellow for 2014-15 to conduct research in Israel for her new book, a study of centuries of Jewish and Christian interpretation of the longer Greek text of the book of Daniel in the Bible. The institute provides a base for a broad range of American-led scholarly research projects in Near Eastern studies from prehistory to the early Islamic period in the Middle East.
“I have loved working on both of these projects because each allows me to look closely at a tightly-compressed, beautifully-wrought piece of Scripture,” said Grillo, “although that is very often a way into much larger questions.”
Grillo noted the importance of being able to read the Bible in company with the Jewish and Christian communities that have received it as their scripture. “In my work so far, that has mostly been through early Christian exegesis or rabbinic texts, but I am excited about having the chance to spend time in Israel to look too at material culture. I hope that the responses to the book of Daniel I will see there in ancient mosaic and stone can enrich my own reading and writing about the text.”