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Abstract

In changing our focus to examine the children and the childhoods of the characters in the Bible we can gain new insights into the biblical text. This essay applies childist interpretation to a question that has long puzzled scholars: What did Moses mean when he said: “I am heavy (כבד) of speech and heavy (כבד) of tongue” (Exod 4:10). Scholars have suggested it meant Moses had a speech impediment or that he lost his ability to speak Egyptian eloquently during his years in Midian. I suggest, however, that these previous answers have overlooked a crucial stage in Moses’ development: his childhood. Moses’ unique childhood and transition from Hebrew slave child to adopted Egyptian prince creates within him a hybrid identity. His hybrid identity, in turn, manifested itself in Hebrew language attrition, which causes him to protest that he is “heavy of speech and tongue.”

In: Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

While recognized as important contributors to the household, children remain a small part of ancient Near Eastern archaeology. If one goal of archaeology is to study at a micro/macro level theories of cultural dynamics, then that record remains incomplete, even flawed, without the inclusion of children. Children should not be simply an alternative focus of research, but need to be an integral part of all archaeologies. This study identifies a new theoretical lens, childist archaeology, and then applies this lens to the investigation of children in ancient Israel. Through a case study focused on double-holed discs, or “buttons,” the study concludes that play should be understood as an integral part of skill transmission and the enculturation of children into society. To test the viability of the conclusions, the case study employs experimental archaeology wherein a group of children undertake the task of creating a spinning toy made of ceramics.

In: Children and Methods

Abstract

This final chapter presents the new field of Childist Criticism. It places the new criticism within the interpretive past, drawing ties to the mother field of feminist criticism and then moving forward. In doing so, it situates each of the previous chapters in the current volume firmly within the new field vis-à-vis the four pillars, or interpretive avenues, that provide the basis for engaging in Childist Criticism: 1) giving children agency and a voice, 2) filling in the gaps, 3) changing the focus from adult-centric to child-centric, and 4) exploring the interplay between children’s value and vulnerability in their society. Whether one chooses to use one or all four of the interpretive avenues, this new method allows scholars of both Jewish studies and biblical studies to learn from ancient biblical children.

In: Children and Methods

Abstract

This Introduction provides a framework for this special volume on Children in the Bible and Childist Interpretation. First, we acquaint unfamiliar readers with the term “childist” and the history of childist interpretation within biblical studies. We briefly outline the hallmarks of the field and explain the specific ways in which this volume moves childist interpretation forward. A paragraph on each article summarizes the overall content of the separate contributions. We conclude by offering the reasons why childist biblical interpretation matters not only for the study of children in the biblical world but for children in the modern world as well.

In: Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

The Introduction traces the origin of child-centered research in Judaic and biblical studies, especially its rapid growth in the past twenty years, with personal anecdotes which suggest its organic development arising from unanswered scholarly questions. In addition, the definition and structure of Childist Criticism in Jewish and biblical studies is explored, both on its own and in how it relates to other fields of higher criticism, such as feminist studies, masculinity studies, narrative criticism, deconstructive criticism, and archaeology.

The essays which are outlined in the Introduction were first presented at “Listening To and Learning From Children in the Biblical World,” a conference held on 17–18 February 2018 at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles. At its core, child-centered research has always been interdisciplinary, and each of the following essays demonstrates this purposefully by not only naming the method that is being used to explore the biblical text, but also applying that method in a case study. As a whole, the papers give an overview of where the field came from and where it is going. Apart from shared methods and texts, a unifying principle for scholarship in this field has been, from the start, to listen to and learn from the children. This volume helps us to understand the best ways to hear children and to continue listening to their voices both in the past and today.

In: Children and Methods
In: Children and Methods
In: Children and Methods
In: Children and Methods
Listening To and Learning From Children in the Biblical World
In Children and Methods: Listening To and Learning From Children in the Biblical World, Kristine Henriksen Garroway and John W. Martens bring together an interdisciplinary collection of essays addressing children in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and broader ancient world. While the study of children has been on the rise in a number of fields, the methodologies by which we listen to and learn from children in ancient Judaism and Christianity have not been critically examined.

This collection of essays proposes that while the various lenses of established methods of higher criticism offer insight into the lives of children, by filtering these methods through the new field of Childist Criticism, children can be heard and seen in a new light.