Professor Paul Kim has received a Fulbright award, which will fund his sabbatical research in South Korea during the upcoming Fall Semester. Kim, who holds MTSO’s Williams Chair in Biblical Studies, received the news in a March letter from Betty Castor, chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
“The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, and it is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government,” Castor wrote. “Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists, and teachers. They have been awarded 53 Nobel Prizes.”
Kim, who is writing a commentary on Isaiah for Eerdmans’ New International Commentary on the Old Testament, will use his fall faculty fellowship to compare the exile story in the book of Isaiah with Korean resistance literature from 1910 to 1945, a time of Japanese occupation. He plans to study with Korean scholars and to do presentations on his project while in Korea.
“When we do comparative analysis, there’s a gap of 2,000 years,” Kim said. “So to make this study valid, I start with the hope and the possibility that we can find in comparison certain pertinent and even common features of sociological, political and religious phenomena of people in similar situations: exile, forced migration, trauma, uprootedness.”
Isaiah scholars have long studied and debated the relative contributions of exiles in Babylon and those remaining behind in Judah. Kim sees a similar dynamic between Koreans who were relocated to Japan and those who remained at home in the early 20th century.
“My question is: Can we find some similar features of mutual correspondences, maybe even working together, collaborating or inspiring each other? And how did they do so?” he said. “Were there tensions between the leaders in Babylon and leaders in Judah – and between leaders in Japan and leaders in Korea?”
“That will be something I hope to contribute to this scholarship.”