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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.
Perspectives on the Death of Jesus
In Engaging the Passion, Oliver Larry Yarbrough has gathered an impressive array of scholars to survey the wealth of ways in which the death of Jesus has been portrayed and represented in Scripture, liturgy and music, literature, art and film, theology, and ethics. In addition to addressing topics many readers will find familiar—gospel narratives, Holy Week services, Bach Passions, and well-known paintings—the essays also treat rap music, street art, a contemporary Buddhist Passion, Chagall’s crucifixions, the poetry of Walt Whitman and Countee Cullen, J. R. R. Tolkien’s unlikely hero Frodo Baggins, images from the battlefield, and stories from the soup kitchen. The contributors approach their topics from a variety of perspectives—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular; their voices differ as well, from the challenging to the comforting and from the academic to the confessional. Addressing the faithful, the skeptical, and the curious, Engaging the Passion is unique in its breadth and rare in the diverse voices of its contributors. Amply illustrated and with accompanying discography and filmography, it will be a welcome resource for classes in Scripture, theology, liturgy, and the arts, as well as for personal and congregational study.
Translation, Scholarship, Culture
How did the Bible survive the Enlightenment? In this book, Jonathan Sheehan shows how Protestant translators and scholars in the eighteenth century transformed the Bible from a book justified by theology to one justified by culture. In doing so, the Bible was made into the cornerstone of Western heritage and invested with meaning, authority, and significance even for a secular age.
The Enlightenment Bible offers a new history of the Bible in the century of its greatest crisis and, in turn, a new vision of this century and its effects on religion. Although the Enlightenment has long symbolized the corrosive effects of modernity on religion, Sheehan shows how the Bible survived, and even thrived in this cradle of ostensible secularization. Indeed, in eighteenth-century Protestant Europe, biblical scholarship and translation became more vigorous and culturally significant than at any time since the Reformation. From across the theological spectrum, European scholars--especially German and English--exerted tremendous energies to rejuvenate the Bible, reinterpret its meaning, and reinvest it with new authority.
Poets, pedagogues, philosophers, literary critics, philologists, and historians together built a post-theological Bible, a monument for a new religious era. These literati forged the Bible into a cultural text, transforming the theological core of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the end, the Enlightenment gave the Bible the power to endure the corrosive effects of modernity, not as a theological text but as the foundation of 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.