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What is the purpose of the violence in Judges 19 and what does this narrative aim to accomplish in its readers? Phyllis , Cheryl , and more recently, Margaret , suggest that this violence is viewed positively by the narrator and serves to reinforce patriarchal ideology. I propose that a different conclusion may be reached by adopting a ‘grammatical-cinematic’ approach. The goal of this approach is to read the biblical narrative through film, i.e., to tell the biblical story in the language of the cinema by focusing on the ‘cinematic sensibilities’ of the text. Using examples from Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, I argue that this approach can recover the agency and dignity of the woman and better visualize the brutality of violence. Finally, I argue that one can understand the object of the author’s critique to be the events and characters of the narrative.

In: Biblical Interpretation

Biblical scholars often disregard ecological hermeneutics too readily as a special interest approach that is incapable of contributing to wider interpretive and theological conversations. This essay offers a new approach, ecomimetic interpretation, as a reading strategy that can bridge the gap between ecological hermeneutics and other forms of hermeneutical inquiry. Ecomimetic interpretation requires the interpreter to identify with non-human characters in a given text and allow that identification to contribute to the questions and findings that other approaches raise. In doing so, it contributes to such disparate fields as historical critical studies, theology, ethics, and ecological hermeneutics. This essay first develops the method of ecomimetic interpretation, illustrating each step with a brief reading of Matt. 6:25–34, and then surveys the contributions that this reading strategy can make to a variety of disciplines.

In: Biblical Interpretation

This essay examines Galileo’s reading of Ecclesiastes 3:11, which he cited in his letter to the Grand Duchess Christina in 1615 at the beginning of his trial for heresy. Why would Galileo have used this text in support of his intellectual inquiry? Three critical components of his intellectual environment are explored: 1) the development of scientific inquiry within the 17th c system of patronage; 2) the culture of curiosity that sustains his intellectual inquiry; and 3) the telescope and the transformation of human imagination.

In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Alex Damm

This essay seeks to emphasize the important bearing which multiple and quotidian, personal contexts have on the biblical exegesis of Mohandas K. Gandhi. The essay focuses on Gandhi’s interpretation of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32), asking in particular why Gandhi’s reading departs from the parable’s literal sense. While the most evident reason for Gandhi’s distinctive interpretation is his philosophy of satyagraha or non-violent resistance, there emerge behind this appeal, several more precise contexts that plausibly contributed to Gandhi conceiving of satyagraha as the parable’s interpretive key. These contexts included political exigencies that Gandhi faced in mid-1920; his relationship with his son Harilal; and the profile of one of his interlocutors, Sir Narayan Chandavarkar. This essay emphasizes the importance of such varied and personal contexts that merge to help shape Gandhi’s interpretation, and closes with implications for further study of biblical exegesis by Gandhi and more generally in the global south.

In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Bernon Lee

Reading Grace Aguilar on the law of the jealous man (Num. 5:11–31) against Edward Said’s putative anatomy of psychological satisfaction respecting nineteenth-century (Western) depictions of non-European faces and spaces (in Culture and Imperialism) is the interest of this article. Aguilar’s interpretation fits, largely, Said’s paradigm of sclerosed racial differences, cultural interpenetration within contested spaces, and a recovery of a Western perspective in the last. But her conformity to the pattern in the work is troubled by her commitment to a marginal Anglo-Jewish apologetic grounded in the religious ruminations of an ancient Eastern people and literature. Charting a course for her brand of Jewish piety to the center of Victorian religious culture with its moorings in Euro-supremacy, Aguilar remains tethered to her Near Eastern patrimony. She is, in the end, a reluctant imperialist.

In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Laura Quick

The book of Job provides the most complex and detailed descriptions of illness in biblical literature. Less explored are the frequent references made in the text to dressing and undressing. These references demonstrate the various dimensions, contexts and functional roles of clothing in the world of the Hebrew Bible. But as well as references to actual textile items, the book of Job also refers to clothing in a much more symbolic sense. Drawing on sociological and anthropological approaches to dress and the body, I argue that dress and nudity are connected to and in fact a key part of Job’s experience of illness. By unpacking these ideas, we can better comprehend ancient Israelite conceptions of medical anthropology, as well as embodiment more generally.

In: Biblical Interpretation

The author of the Book of Jonah carefully selected the prophet Jonah ben Amittai, mentioned briefly in 2 Kings 14:23–29, to be the anti-hero of his tale. We may integrate knowledge from the historical context of this prophet’s lifetime in the eighth century bce to see structural parallels between the sinful actions, Yhwh’s merciful responses to the actions, and the continued sinful actions, of Jonah, Israel and Assyria. Jonah becomes the prophet of second chances: for Israel, for himself, for the Assyrians, and then for the Judean audience, either in the Babylonian exile or thereafter, in a work written in agreement with the theological paradigm of the Deuteronomistic histories that attempt to demonstrate Yhwh’s mercy.

In: Biblical Interpretation

Drawing on parallels from Jewish, Greco-Roman, and Early Christian sources alongside of sociological models of agriculture in subsistence economies, this essay makes the case for the presence (if not preponderance) of child shepherds among those who receive the angelic message in Luke 2:1–20. By engaging a childist reading that both considers the position of the shepherds with regards to their economic and social standing in Bethlehem and re-reads the angelic message and proclamation of an infant as sign in light of such a youthful audience, this essay reframes the perceived identity of the Bethlehem shepherds to foreground the children in their midst.

In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Paul Clogher

Rooted in Italian neorealism, Marxist theory, and centuries of Christian art and music, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Il Vangelo secondo Matteo reactivates the Gospel against the backdrop of Italian Marxism and social life in the mid-twentieth century. Through a hermeneutical reflection, this paper argues for the film as a central moment in the mediation and reception of the Christian story. Pasolini’s transgressive and poetic cinema partakes in and expands a hermeneutical dynamic at the core of the Christian story. The film’s documentary style, political subtexts, and eclectic setting highlight how the Christian story is a lived historical experience and thus does not transcend the social or historical circumstances of its telling and retelling. In a reciprocal encounter, both film and Gospel reveal the Christian story’s multiple textuality. Taking this as its cue, this article explores how Pasolini’s Matthew reveals the role of cinema as a site of hermeneutical and Christological reflection.

In: Biblical Interpretation

Throughout the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet is depicted as a victim of verbal and physical violence to which he often responds with fierce imprecations. My study articulates a basic framework in which these troubling passages can be understood and used responsibly by contemporary readers (“Speech as a Response to Violence”) but then argues that Jeremiah’s prayer in Jer 18 violates the balance and boundaries of this framework (“Speech as a Response too Violent”). Inasmuch as this discussion reveals the problems and potential dangers of speech, I offer a reading of Jer 15–16, 26, and 28 that highlights the prophet’s silence as an alternative response to violence. This silence, I argue, is not a form of submissive suffering but an act of public critique and strategic disengagement. Jeremiah’s silence speaks powerfully and peacefully in his own violent context and, by extension, may speak so also in ours.

In: Biblical Interpretation