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Give Me Children or I Shall Die Cover

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Give Me Children or I Shall Die

Children and Communal Survival in Biblical Literature

By Laurel W. Koepf-Taylor

In the subsistence agricultural social context of the Hebrew Bible, children were necessary for communal survival. In such an economy, children’s labor contributes to the family’s livelihood from a young age, rather than simply preparing the child for future adult work. Ethnographic research shows that this interdependent family life contrasts significantly with that of privileged modern Westerners, for whom children are dependents. This text seeks to look beyond the dominant cultural constructions of childhood in the modern West and the moral rhetoric that accompanies them so as to uncover what biblical texts intend to communicate when they utilize children as literary tropes in their own social, cultural, and historical context.

Gleaning Ruth Cover

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Gleaning Ruth

A Biblical Heroine and Her Afterlives

Jennifer L. Koosed

The biblical story of Ruth celebrates the power to begin life anew, to gather what has been scattered, to glean what one needs. In this original approach to understanding an ancient love story, Jennifer L. Koosed crafts a multifaceted portrait of the Old Testament character of Ruth and of the demanding agricultural world in which her story unfolds. Highlighting the most complex aspects of the book—the relationships Ruth has with her mother-in-law, Naomi; sister-in-law, Orpah; future husband, Boaz; and infant son, Obed—Koosed explores the use of pairings to define Ruth's aspirational fortitude. Koosed also touches on the narrative's questions of sexuality, kinship, and law as well as the metaphoric activities of harvest that serve to advance the plot and illuminate the social and geographic context of Ruth's tale. From the private world of women to the public world of men, Koosed guides readers through the book of Ruth's revealing glimpses into the sociology of the ancient Hebrew world. The study concludes with a discussion of the postbiblical fascination with Ruth and her later representations in a variety of literary and visual media. Koosed's approach is eclectic, employing a host of methodologies from philology and theology to literature, folklore, and feminism. Thoughtful of the interests of both scholarly and lay audiences, Koosed presents inviting and compelling new insights into one of the Old Testament's most enigmatic characters.

The Gospel of John and Christian Origins Cover

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The Gospel of John and Christian Origins

By John Ashton

One of the most challenging questions facing New Testament scholars—how did Christianity emerge from Judaism?—is often addressed in general and indirect terms. The question becomes acute, however, when we turn to the Fourth Gospel, which, like the Judaism from which it presumably sprang, affirms one God, yet also affirms the incarnation of the eternal Word and, in nascent form, what Christians will later call the Trinity––teachings that seem to set the Gospel poles apart from Judaism! John Ashton refuses any merely evolutionary explanation for this shift. Rather, he argues that the author of the Fourth Gospel set out precisely to supplant one revelation with another, and this because of the profound religious experience of the Evangelist, who turned from being a practicing Jew to experiencing a new revelation centered on Christ as the intermediary between God and humanity.

The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers Cover

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The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers

A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel

Howard Clarke

The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers is a biblical commentary with a difference. Howard Clarke first establishes contemporary scholarship's mainstream view of Matthew's Gospel, and then presents a sampling of the ways this text has been read, understood, and applied through two millennia. By referring forward to Matthew's readers (rather than back to the text's composers), the book exploits the tensions between what contemporary scholars understand to be the intent of the author of Matthew and the quite different, indeed often eccentric and bizarre ways this text has been understood, assimilated, and applied over the years. The commentary is a testament to the ambiguities and elasticity of the text and a cogent reminder that interpretations are not fixed, nor texts immutably relevant. And unlike other commentaries, this one gives space to those who have questioned, rejected, or even ridiculed Matthew's messages, since Bible-bashing, like Bible-thumping, is a historically significant part of the experience of reading the Bible.

The Hebrew Bible Cover

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The Hebrew Bible

New Insights and Scholarship

Frederick Greenspahn

In April of 2001, the headline in the Los Angeles Times read, “Doubting the Story of the Exodus.” It covered a sermon that had been delivered by the rabbi of a prominent local congregation over the holiday of Passover. In it, he said, “The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.” This seeming challenge to the biblical story captivated the local public. Yet as the rabbi himself acknowledged, his sermon contained nothing new. The theories that he described had been common knowledge among biblical scholars for over thirty years, though few people outside of the profession know their relevance.

New understandings concerning the Bible have not filtered down beyond specialists in university settings. There is a need to communicate this research to a wider public of students and educated readers outside of the academy. This volume seeks to meet this need, with accessible and engaging chapters describing how archeology, theology, ancient studies, literary studies, feminist studies, and other disciplines now understand the Bible.

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Hermeneutics and the Church

In Dialogue with Augustine

James A. Andrews

In Hermeneutics and the Church, James A. Andrews presents a close reading of De doctrina christiana as a whole and places Augustine's text into dialogue with contemporary theological hermeneutics. The dialogical nature of the exercise allows Augustine to remain a living voice in contemporary debates about the use of theology in biblical interpretation. In particular, Andrews puts Augustine's hermeneutical treatise into dialogue with the theologians Werner Jeanrond and Stephen Fowl. Andrews argues on the basis of De doctrina christiana that the paradigm for theological interpretation is the sermon and that its end is to engender the double love of God and neighbor. With the sermon as the paradigm of interpretation, Hermeneutics and the Church offers practical conclusions for future work in historical theology and biblical interpretation. For Augustine scholars, Andrews offers a reading of De doctrina that takes seriously the entirety of the work and allows Augustine to speak consistently through words written at the beginning and end of his bishopric. For theologians, this book provides a model of how to engage theologically with the past, and, more than that, it offers the actual fruits of such an engagement: suggestions for the discipline of theological hermeneutics and the practice of scriptural interpretation.

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The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation

The Center of Paul's Method of Scriptural Interpretation

Matthew W. Bates

Against the prevailing models for understanding the Apostle Paul's interpretation and use of scripture, Matthew Bates proposes a fresh approach toward developing a Pauline hermeneutic. He combines historical criticism with an intertextual strategy that takes seriously the work of the early church fathers, and in so doing fills a void in current scholarship. Bates applies his method to both oft-referenced and underutilized passages in the writings of Paul and suggests a new model for Pauline hermeneutics that is centered on the apostolic proclamation of Christ.

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The Historiographical Jesus

Memory, Typology, and the Son of David

Anthony Le Donne

The Historiographical Jesus introduces a new theory and approach for studying the life of Jesus. Anthony Le Donne uses the precepts of social memory theory to identify “memory refraction” in the Jesus tradition—the refocusing distortion that occurs as the stories and sayings of Jesus were handed down and consciously and unconsciously framed in new settings with new applications. Recognition of this refraction allows historians to escape the problematic dichotomy between memory and typology. The author focuses on the title"Son of David"as it was used in Jewish and Christian traditions to demonstrate both how his new theory functions and to advance historical Jesus research.



History of New Testament Research Cover

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History of New Testament Research

From C.H. Dodd to Hans Dieter Betz

by William Baird

In this masterful volume—the culmination of his three-volume History of New Testament Research (vol. 1, From Deism to Tübingen, 1992; vol. 2, From Jonathan Edwards to Rudolf Bultmann, 2012)—William Baird continues his insightful, balanced, and accessible survey of the major developments in New Testament scholarship. Volume 3 charts the dramatic discoveries and breakthroughs in method and approach that characterized the mid- and late twentieth century. Baird gives attention to the biographical and cultural setting of persons and approaches, affording both beginning student and seasoned scholar an authoritative account of the evolution of historical-critical study of the New Testament.

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Holy Scripture and the Quest for Authority at the End of the Middle Ages

Ian Christopher Levy

All participants in late medieval debates recognized Holy Scripture as the principal authority in matters of Catholic doctrine. Popes, theologians, lawyers—all were bound by the divine truth it conveyed. Yet the church possessed no absolute means of determining the final authoritative meaning of the biblical text—hence the range of appeals to antiquity, to the papacy, and to councils, none of which were ultimately conclusive. Authority in the late medieval church was a vexing issue precisely because it was not resolved.

Ian Christopher Levy’s book focuses on the quest for such authority between 1370 and 1430, from John Wyclif to Thomas Netter, thereby encompassing the struggle over Holy Scripture waged between Wycliffites and Hussites on the one hand, and their British and Continental opponents on the other. Levy demonstrates that the Wycliffite/Hussite “heretics” and their opponents—the theologians William Woodford, Thomas Netter, and Jean Gerson—in fact shared a large and undisputed common ground. They held recognized licenses of expertise, venerated tradition, esteemed the church fathers, and embraced Holy Scripture as the ultimate authority in Christendom. What is more, they utilized similar hermeneutical strategies with regard to authorial intention, the literal sense, and the appeal to the fathers and holy doctors in order to open up the text. Yet it is precisely this commonality, according to Levy, that rendered the situation virtually intractable; he argues that the erroneous assumption persists today that Netter and Gerson spoke for “the church,” whereas Wyclif and Hus sought to destroy it.
 
Levy's sophisticated study in historical theology, which reconsiders the paradigm of heresy and orthodoxy, offers a necessary adjustment in our view of church authority at the turn of the fifteenth century.    
 
"In Holy Scripture and the Quest for Authority at the End of the Middle Ages, Ian Christopher Levy reveals the crux of a late medieval quandary regarding ecclesial authority. He perceptively shows how theologians and the Catholic Church were mired in a nearly intractable constellation of issues involving scriptural interpretation, appeals to tradition, development of doctrine, the question of concrete, visible instruments of authority, and the role of canon law and university theologians. This highly original contribution treats themes and issues at an immensely complex and important juncture in the development of early modern religious thought and practice, the ramifications of which are still very much with us today." —Boyd Taylor Coolman, Boston College

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