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Thinking and Working across Borders
Empowering Memory and Movement, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza completes a three-volume look across her influential work and career. In Transforming Vision (2011), she drew from decades of pioneering scholarship to offer the contours of a critical feminist hermeneutic. The chapters in Changing Horizons (2013) sketched out a theory of liberation. Now, the consequences for a liberating praxis are elaborated in interviews and essays that chart Schüssler Fiorenza’s own personal and professional history as these are intertwined with the history of the worldwide movement for emancipation and full equality. Empowering Memory and Movement looks back, but also looks around at challenges and potentialities on the global scene, and looks ahead to an emancipatory future, with a critical and wise engagement with scripture and the interpretive tradition always at the center.
Character Studies in the Gospel of John
The last thirty years have seen an increased interest in the Bible as literature and story. Yet “character” appears to be neglected in both literary theory and narrative criticism. Indeed, there is not even agreement amongst scholars on how to approach, analyze and classify characters.
Applying a comprehensive theory of character to the Gospel of John, Cornelis Bennema provides a fresh analysis of both the characters and their responses to Jesus. While the majority of scholars view most Johannine characters as “flat,” Bennema demonstrates that many are complex, developing, and “round.” John’s broad array of characters and their responses to Jesus correspond to people and their choices in real life in any culture and time. This book highlights how John’s Gospel seeks to challenge its readers, past and present, about where they stand in relation to Jesus.
The Man in His Place and Time
What was there in Jesus' person, behavior, and words that prompted not only much enthusiasm but also much hostility? This compelling portrait of the man Jesus of Nazareth by two pioneers of the anthropological study of early Christianity answers this vital question. They bring the fruit of years of scholarship to bear on a radical figure in Roman Galilee and on his encounters with others and the movement those encounters inspired. They give close attention to the everyday realities that shaped those encounters: the facts of travel, common meals, domestic space, and the interactions of bodies. The result is a refreshing new look at the man who proved so significant-and so controversial-in Western culture.
Longing and Envy in Paul's Christology
The self-emptying of Christ (kenosis) in Philippians 2 has long been the focus of attention by Christian theologians and interpreters of Paul's Christology. David E. Fredrickson sheds dramatic new light on familiar texts by discussing the centuries-old language of love and longing in Greek and Roman epistolary literature, showing that a "physics" of desire was related to notions of power and dominance. Paul’s kenotic Christology challenged not only received notions of the power of the gods but of the very nature of love itself as a component of human society.
Public and Private Spaces and the Figure of the Female Royal Counselor
Was Esther unique—an anomaly in patriarchal society? Conventionally, scholars see ancient Israelite and Jewish women as excluded from the public world, their power concentrated instead in the domestic realm and exercised through familial structures. Rebecca S. Hancock demonstrates, in contrast, that because of the patrimonial character of ancient Jewish society, the state was often organized along familial lines. The presence of women in roles of queen consort or queen is therefore a key political, and not simply domestic, feature.
Attention to the narrative of Esther and comparison with Hellenistic and Persian historiography depicting “wise women” acting in royal contexts reveals that Esther is in fact representative of a wider tradition. Women could participate in political life structured along familial and kinship lines. Further, Hancock’s demonstration qualifies the bifurcation of “public” (male-dominated) and “private” (female-dominated) space in the ancient Near East.
The Texts @ Contexts series gathers scholarly voices from diverse contexts and social locations to bring new or unfamiliar facets of biblical texts to light. Exodus and Deuteronomy focuses attention on two books of the Torah that share themes of journey and of diverse experiences in or upon the land; the echoes of the exodus across time, space, and culture; of different understandings of (male and female) leadership; and of the promise, and problem, posed by various aspects of biblical law. These essays de-center the often homogeneous first-world orientation of much biblical scholarship and open up new possibilities for discovery.
The historical Ezra was sent to Jerusalem as an emissary of the Persian monarch. What was his task? According to the Bible, the Persian king sent Ezra to bring the Torah, the five books of the Laws of Moses, to the Jews. Modern scholars have claimed not only that Ezra brought the Torah to Jerusalem, but that he actually wrote it, and in so doing Ezra created Judaism. Without Ezra, they say, Judaism would not exist. In Ezra and the Law in History and Tradition, Lisbeth S. Fried separates historical fact from biblical legend. Drawing on inscriptions from the Achaemenid Empire, she presents the historical Ezra in the context of authentic Persian administrative practices and concludes that Ezra, the Persian official, neither wrote nor edited the Torah, nor would he even have known it. The origin of Judaism, so often associated with Ezra by modern scholars, must be sought elsewhere. After discussing the historical Ezra, Fried examines ancient, medieval, and modern views of him, explaining how each originated, and why. She relates the stories told about Ezra by medieval Christians to explain why their Greek Old Testament differs from the Hebrew Bible, as well as the explanations offered by medieval Samaritans concerning how their Samaritan Bible varies from the one the Jews use. Church Fathers as well as medieval Samaritan writers explained the differences by claiming that Ezra falsified the Bible when he rewrote it, so that in effect, it is not the book that Moses wrote but something else. Moslem scholars also maintain that Ezra falsified the Old Testament, since Mohammed, the last judgment, and Heaven and Hell are revealed in it. In contrast Jewish Talmudic writers viewed Ezra both as a second Moses and as the prophet Malachi. In the process of describing ancient, medieval, and modern views of Ezra, Fried brings out various understandings of God, God’s law, and God’s plan for our salvation.
The Ecumenical Trio of Virtues
Faith, hope, and love: these words recall one of the most familiar passages in the entirety of the Christian Scriptures and represent three uniquely Christian virtues given by God to the Church. Geoffrey Wainwright explores the contemporary ecumenical potential of these historic Christian virtues. Faith, hope, and love are given to each Christian and are intended to be incorporated in the nature and life of every gathered Christian body. Wainwright pairs each virtue with a practice instituted by Christ himself. Holy baptism teaches faith as an enacted confession. The Lord’s Prayer invites petition as an address of hope. The Lord’s Supper offers bread and wine as an embodiment of love. These historic practices orient all Christians backward in faith to the formative events of the cross of resurrection, forward in hope of the final consummation, and toward all others gathered around the shared meal. Wainwright insists that faith, hope, and love pave a path to unity for a historically divided Church.
The New Creation and its Ethical and Social Reconfigurations
It is widely recognized that in some of his letters, Paul develops a Christology based on a comparison between Adam and Christ, and that this Christology has antecedents in Jewish interpretation of Genesis 1–4. But Paul was not concerned simply to develop themes found in scripture.
Felipe Legarreta gives careful attention to patterns of exegesis in Second-Temple Judaism and identifies, for the first time, a number of motifs by which Jews drew ethical implications from the story of Adam and his expulsion from Eden. He then demonstrates that throughout the “Christological” passages in Romans and 1 Corinthians, Paul is taking part in a wider Jewish exegetical and ethical discussion regarding life in the new creation.