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While postmodernism remains an ambiguous and messy phenomenon to represent, it also remains a compelling prophetic voice in the ongoing development of contemporary biblical studies. In Critical Entanglements: Postmodern Theory and Biblical Studies, Andrew P. Wilson tracks the various strands of postmodernism threaded through the discipline, drawing on a range of evocative biblical readings as well as key examples from the art world. Wilson demonstrates that the scholarly “entanglement” with postmodern theory provides a valuable critical sensibility to biblical readings, and referring to specific examples from reception history, one that has the potential to showcase biblical studies at its best. When it comes to reading practices, scholarly voices and identities, postmodern theory shows that biblical scholarship is ethically oriented and has an expansive sense of the text and textual effects. Wilson plots the distinctive ways in which postmodern theory has shaped scholarship of the bible while continuing to beckon in unanticipated ways from unexpected vantage points.

One of the grand scenes of the Passion narratives can be found in John’s Gospel where Pilate, presenting Jesus to the people, proclaims “Behold the man”: “Ecce Homo.” But what exactly does Pilate mean when he asks the reader to “Behold”? This paper takes as its point of departure a roughly drawn picture of Jesus in the “Ecce Homo” tradition and explores the relationship of this picture to its referent in John’s Gospel, via its capacity as kitsch devotional art. Contemporary scholarship on kitsch focuses on what kitsch does, or how it functions, rather than assessing what it is. From this perspective, when “beholding” is understood not for what it reveals but for what it does, John’s scene takes on a very different significance. It becomes a scene that breaks down traditional divisions between big and small stories, subject and object as well as text and context. A kitsch perspective opens up possibilities for locating John’s narrative in unexpected places and experiences. Rather than being a two-dimensional departure from the grandeur of John’s trial scene, kitsch “art” actually provides a lens through which the themes and dynamics of the narrative can be re-viewed with an expansiveness somewhat lacking from more traditional commentary.


In: Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

While postmodernism remains an ambiguous and messy phenomenon to represent, it also remains a compelling prophetic voice in the ongoing development of contemporary biblical studies. This article tracks the various strands of postmodernism threaded through the discipline, drawing on a range of evocative biblical readings as well as key examples from the art world. It demonstrates that the scholarly “entanglement” with postmodern theory provides a valuable critical sensibility to biblical readings, and referring to specific examples from reception history, one that has the potential to showcase biblical studies at its best. When it comes to reading practices, scholarly voices and identities, postmodern theory shows that biblical scholarship is ethically oriented and has an expansive sense of the text and textual effects. The distinctive ways in which postmodern theory has shaped scholarship of the bible are plotted, while continuing to beckon in unanticipated ways from unexpected vantage points.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

While postmodernism remains an ambiguous and messy phenomenon to represent, it also remains a compelling prophetic voice in the ongoing development of contemporary biblical studies. This article tracks the various strands of postmodernism threaded through the discipline, drawing on a range of evocative biblical readings as well as key examples from the art world. It demonstrates that the scholarly “entanglement” with postmodern theory provides a valuable critical sensibility to biblical readings, and referring to specific examples from reception history, one that has the potential to showcase biblical studies at its best. When it comes to reading practices, scholarly voices and identities, postmodern theory shows that biblical scholarship is ethically oriented and has an expansive sense of the text and textual effects. The distinctive ways in which postmodern theory has shaped scholarship of the bible are plotted, while continuing to beckon in unanticipated ways from unexpected vantage points.

In: Critical Entanglements: Postmodern Theory and Biblical Studies