1753 saw the publication of two major works of Old Testament scholarship: Robert Lowth's On the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews and Jean Astruc's Conjectures on Genesis (published anonymously when Astruc was Professor of Medicine at the College Royal in Paris). Both these works have had conisderable repercussions in biblical study down to the present day. Indeed, they may be said to have inaugurated modern critical approaches to biblical poetry and prose, respectively, of the Old Testament. To mark and reflect upon the 250th anniversary of the publication of these volumes, the University of Oxford hosted a "Sacred Conjectures" conference in 2003. An international group of scholars gathered to discuss the context and legacy of Lowth's and Astruc's seminal contributions to the field of biblical scholarship; the majority of the papers presented at the conference appear in this volume. The collection aims to provide for Lowth and Astruc not only an account and evaluation of their life and work but also an understanding of the wider intellectual context of their scholarship and the reception and influence of their work ever since.
John Jarick is Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University of Surrey Roehampton, London.