In this Book

Theorizing Scriptures
summary

Historically, religious scriptures are defined as holy texts that are considered to be beyond the abilities of the layperson to interpret. Their content is most frequently analyzed by clerics who do not question the underlying political or social implications of the text, but use the writing to convey messages to their congregations about how to live a holy existence. In Western society, moreover, what counts as scripture is generally confined to the Judeo-Christian Bible, leaving the voices of minorities, as well as the holy texts of faiths from Africa and Asia, for example, unheard. 

In this innovative collection of essays that aims to turn the traditional bible-study definition of scriptures on its head, Vincent L. Wimbush leads an in-depth look at the social, cultural, and racial meanings invested in these texts. Contributors hail from a wide array of academic fields and geographic locations and include such noted academics as Susan Harding, Elisabeth Shüssler Fiorenza, and William L. Andrews.

Purposefully transgressing disciplinary boundaries, this ambitious book opens the door to different interpretations and critical orientations, and in doing so, allows an ultimately humanist definition of scriptures to emerge.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vii
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  1. Foreword
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Introduction. TEXTureS, Gestures, Power: Orientation to Radical Excavation
  2. pp. 1-20
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  1. PART I. THE PHENOMENON—AND ITS ORIGINS
  2. p. 21
  1. 1 Scriptures—Text and Then Some
  2. pp. 23-28
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  1. 2 Signifying Revelation in Islam
  2. pp. 29-40
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  1. 3 Scriptures and the Nature of Authority: The Case of the Guru Granth in Sikh Tradition
  2. pp. 41-54
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  1. 4 The Dynamics of Scripturalization: The Ancient Near East
  2. pp. 55-61
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  1. 5 Known Knowns and Unknown Unknowns: Scriptures and Scriptural Interpretations
  2. pp. 62-66
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  1. Talking Back
  2. p. 67
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  1. PART II. SETTINGS, SITUATIONS, PRACTICES
  2. p. 69
  1. 6 Signifying Scriptures in Confucianism
  2. pp. 71-78
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  1. 7 The Confessions of Nat Turner: Memoir of a Martyr or Testament of a Terrorist?
  2. pp. 79-87
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  1. 8 Signifying Scriptures from an African Perspective
  2. pp. 88-94
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  1. 9 Transforming Identities, De-textualizing Interpretation, and Re-modalizing Representation: Scriptures and Subaltern Subjectivity in India
  2. pp. 95-104
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  1. 10 Signification as Scripturalization: Communal Memories Among the Miao and in Ancient Jewish Allegorization
  2. pp. 105-114
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  1. Talking Back
  2. p. 115
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  1. PART III. MATERIAL AND EXPRESSIVE REPRESENTATIONS
  2. p. 117
  1. 11 Conjuring Scriptures and Engendering Healing Traditions
  2. pp. 119-127
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  1. 12 Visualizing Scriptures
  2. pp. 128-133
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  1. 13 Signifying in Nineteenth-Century African American Religious Music
  2. pp. 134-144
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  1. 14 Signifying Proverbs: Menace II Society
  2. pp. 145-154
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  1. 15 Scriptures Beyond Script: Some African Diasporic Occasions
  2. pp. 155-166
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  1. 16 Texture, Text, and Testament: Reading Sacred Symbols/Signifying Imagery in American Visual Culture
  2. pp. 167-178
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  1. Talking Back
  2. p. 179
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  1. PART IV. PSYCHO-SOCIAL-CULTURAL/POWER NEEDS AND DYNAMICS
  2. p. 181
  1. 17 Differences at Play in the Fields of the Lord
  2. pp. 183-194
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  1. 18 American Samson: Biblical Reading and National Origins
  2. pp. 195-205
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  1. 19 Against Signifying: Psychosocial Needs and Natural Evil
  2. pp. 206-213
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  1. 20 Orality, Memory, and Power: Vedic Scriptures and Brahmanical Hegemony in India
  2. pp. 214-219
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  1. 21 Reading Places/Reading Scriptures
  2. pp. 220-226
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  1. 22 Taniwha and Serpent: A Trans-Tasman Riff
  2. pp. 227-232
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  1. 23 Scriptures Without Letters, Subversions of Pictography, Signifyin(g) Alphabetical Writing
  2. pp. 233-243
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  1. Talking Back
  2. p. 244
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  1. PART V. SIGNIFYING ON THE QUESTIONS
  2. p. 245
  1. 24 In Hoc Signum Vincent: A Midrashist Replies
  2. pp. 247-255
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  1. 25 Powerful Words: The Social-intellectual Location of the International Signifying Scriptures Project
  2. pp. 256-267
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  1. 26 Racial and Colonial Politics of the Modern Object of Knowledge: Cautionary Notes on “Scripture”
  2. pp. 268-277
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  1. 27 Who Needs the Subaltern?
  2. pp. 278-283
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  1. Talking Back
  2. pp. 284-285
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 287-298
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  1. Notes on Contributors
  2. pp. 299-302
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 303-310
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