This article investigates biblical reception in the works of two popular modern fantasy authors. It stages an intertextual dialogue between Genesis 22:1-19, “the binding of Isaac”, and two episodes, in Stephen King’s The Gunslinger and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King. After presenting the dynamics of what happens to the biblical text in these two authors and the perspectives that come out, a hermeneutical reversal is then suggested, in which the modern stories are used to probe the biblical text. One can return to the Bible with questions culled from its later reception, in this case King and Tolkien. This article argues that the themes touched upon by the two authors are important and hermeneutically relevant ones, sometimes novel and sometimes contributions to exegetical debates that have been going on for centuries.
The story of Eutychus in Acts 20 seems to narrate a scene of a Pauline community, meeting for a communal meal and instruction in an insula building in Alexandria Troas. Some scholars have argued, however, that this tale was borrowed by Luke and appropriated to tell the story of Paul. When read through combined theoretical lenses from Michel de Certeau and Pierre Bourdieu, the story of Eutychus provides a window not into one of Paul’s communities, but into Luke’s own spatial practice, and the habitus of community that he knew from his own late-first-century context. Luke therefore repurposed the framework of the story, but also filled the story with his own experience and expectations of space and practice in his creative reconstruction of a Pauline vignette. The tale of Eutychus provides evidence of late-first-century or early-second-century urban Christianity in Asia Minor, not of a community from the life of Paul.
Amnon brutally rapes his half-sister, Tamar, while Absalom, her full brother, is said to have silenced her. It is no wonder that she is desolated. However, commentators have provided two distinct interpretations in which she is either devastated by the rape or by the silencing. Since she is violated, she is disconsolate. Or in most feminist readings, Tamar is ravaged by the silencing after the event. While both readings are possible based on the different versions of the text, Tamar is never silenced. Instead, the reference to her desolation reflects the incarnation of the violation on her body; she expresses the event through her embattled body. This type of desolation is most visually demonstrated in the Academy Award winning screenplay, Manchester by the Sea, in which Lee Chandler, the main character embodies the unspeakable, the death of his three children. Both Lee and Tamar bear their stories in their silent presence.
Frequently Samson’s blindness is linked with newfound spiritual insight, with physical humiliation, and occasionally with instrumental talion. Few question the role of blindness in the text through other lenses or with knowledge of ancient theories of vision. Balancing this, I investigate Samson’s sight and blindness in the context of Judges 13-16, asking what his sensation and sensory impairment signified in the broader context of the Hebrew Bible (HB) and wider Ancient Near East (ANE).
The story about the “Good Samaritan” in the gospel of Luke appears in the midst of a halakhic discussion between Jesus and a Judaean “lawyer” over who constitutes a “neighbor” (Luke 10:25-37). While scholars have often interpreted this pericope as a call for social inclusivity, the ways that Luke relies on and perpetuates prejudicial Judaean stereotypes about Samaritans have seldom been analyzed. This study draws on social-scientific and critical theory on ethnicity and the plethora of recent scholarship on Samaritan-Judaean interactions in order to explore the ways in which Luke’s text conveys prevalent ethnic stereotypes about Samaritans. It argues that Luke, like earlier and contemporaneous Judaean sources, appropriates an ethnographic representation of Samaritans as “proximate others” as part of a process of identity formation.
This paper analyzes a contemporary Taiwanese artist Stanley Fung’s portrait photography and his contextual biblical interpretation of time and memory: the experience of the coming of the kingdom can be lingered on in an artist’s imagination. As a biblical interpreter, Fung’s visual exegesis asks the viewer to reconsider how the historical consciousness of self and community together impact one’s sense of time. Fung uses clothing and plants to invoke the viewer’s longing for a new, local culture where the gospel can be dressed, and a new soil where it can be planted. Photography as a legitimate extension of the sacred text engages the viewer’s biblical imagination and demands a response. Eternal beings and Christian anthropology, as manifested in Fung’s work serve to remind us of the distinction between memory and the sacred, life and destruction, creation and redemption.
This article applies collective trauma theory to biblical interpretation in order to respond to a 21st-century humanitarian crisis. Utilizing recent advances in social-scientific theory, the article examines how the books of Judges and the Acts of the Apostles can function in distinct and complementary fashions as “collective trauma narratives.” Judges 19-21 is interpreted as narrating the Levite’s “polarizing” trauma narrative and subverting it with a reconciling narrative. Acts 6-8 and 12 are also examined as trauma narratives speaking to the loss of early Christian leaders, promoting a vision of forgiveness and hope of divine justice. The article applies trauma theory to biblical interpretation for the purpose of addressing the armed conflict in Colombia. We propose that the theological visions of the trauma narratives of Judges and Acts (regarding forgiveness, resistance, flight, and reconciliation) are poignant for Colombian religious communities seeking peace and healing in the wake of violence and displacement.
The parallel narratives in Deuteronomy and in Exodus-Numbers have long provided a basis for literary-historical investigations of the composition of the Pentateuch. They also, however, contribute significantly to a canonical reading of Deuteronomy and its place in the Pentateuch. The parallel stories - and specifically the differences between them - allow for a sharper definition of Deuteronomy’s message, the character of Moses, and the nature of biblical interpretation.
This article examines the ways in which the law of the rebellious and stubborn son in Deut. 21:18-21 supports the agenda of the D source to subordinate any basis of authority in ancient Israel to its own legal vision of centralization. In particular, I explore theories regarding the origin of Deut. 21:18-21 as pre-deuteronomic and argue that, whatever its pre-history, the law of the rebellious and stubborn son functions well in the legal and religious rhetoric of D. I further support this analysis of Deut. 21:18-21 by recourse to and comparison with similar family laws in the Covenant Code and Holiness Legislation. Finally, I offer thoughts on the manner in which the severity of Deut. 21:18-21 explains two facets of the reception history of this passage.