Introduction: From Affect to Exegesis


In: Biblical Interpretation
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  • 1 Albright College, USA

  • 2 Drew University, USA


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This article introduces a thematic issue of Biblical Interpretation on the high-profile field of affect theory as it relates to biblical studies. Affect theory analyzes emotions and still more elemental forces that are rooted in bodies and pass between them. In addition to previewing the six articles in the issue – three of which grapple with Hebrew Bible texts and three with early Christian texts – this introduction provides a brief history of affect theory and maps its main variants. The article also reflects on the challenges of turning a body of theory largely uninterested in literary interpretation into a set of strategies for reading biblical texts.


  • 5

    Seigworth and Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 4.

  • 10

    Coleman, “Affect,” p. 12. For an attempt to rethink biblical hermeneutics in Deleuzian-Guattarian terms, see B. H. McLean, Biblical Interpretation and Philosophical Hermeneutics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 268–301.

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  • 13

    See Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (London and New York: Routledge, 2004) and The Promise of Happiness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), and Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Series Q; Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003) and Depression: A Public Feeling (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012).

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  • 15

    Nealon, Post-Postmodernism, p. 133.

  • 17

    Seigworth and Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 3.

  • 18

    Seigworth and Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 4.

  • 19

    Cf. Stephen D. Moore and Yvonne Sherwood, The Invention of the Biblical Scholar: A Critical Manifesto (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), p. 31: “Theory, insofar as it has been assimilated at all in biblical studies, has been assimilated mainly as system and method. Theory has fueled the biblical-scholarly susceptibility to methodolatry and methodone addiction. Method is our madness.”

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  • 20

    Seigworth and Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 4.

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