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Author: Leslie Brisman

Abstract

When Jesus tells Pilate “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), he may be reassuring Pilate that Jesus and his followers pose no political threat. In our time, however, the secular idea of “alternate facts” has become something of a new religion and affects both our politics and our academic study. The difficult questions of what constitutes facts or credible critical interpretation of literary facts is particularly vexed when there is a question of citation. This article does not deal with questionable abbreviations of citation (such as “The Lord is merciful and compassionate” Exod. 34:6 without the deflected punishment clauses) or expanded citation (such as “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies’ ” [Matt. 5:43]). It concerns rather some instances where a verse may or may not be a citation and where extra-biblical ideology can interfere with the interpretation of what is being quoted, if it is being quoted. “The poor you have always with you” (Mark 14:7, possibly citing Deut. 15:11) is one such example.

In: Religion and the Arts
Author: Leslie Brisman

A PARABLE OF TALENT LESLIE BRISMAN Yale University Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath. - The Merchant of Venice T he fact that talent, in the sense of an innate but cultivable ability, derives from Matthew's parable of the talents (25:14-30), makes this parable a privileged text for the study of religion and the arts. There is no doubt that the parable itself, unlike the single talent on which it focuses, has been put to "use," inspiring works that allude to it, and influencing, in a broad sense, how we regard energetic, artistic individuality. There is

In: Religion and the Arts
Author: Leslie Brisman

A PARABLE OF TALENT LESLIE BRISMAN Yale University Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath. - The Merchant of Venice T he fact that talent, in the sense of an innate but cultivable ability, 1l derives from Matthew's parable of the talents (25:14-30), makes this parable a privileged text for the study of religion and the arts. There is no doubt that the parable itself, unlike the single talent on which it focuses, has been put to "use," inspiring works that allude to it, and influencing, in a broad sense, how we regard energetic, artistic individuality. There

In: Religion and the Arts
Author: Leslie Brisman

Theological change suffers under the obligation to seem—and the danger of seeming—both consistent with what has come before and genuinely new. Where does the idea of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 come from? Leaving aside those acts of warfare and violence against the innocent, which seem more matters of brute aggression than symbolic atonement, we can find well-acknowledged roots for the doctrine of a suffering servant in the practice of symbolic animal sacrifice and in the figure of the prophet who suffers with, and perhaps for, the people. But there is a third root as well that goes back to the language of the divine attributes and to the ambiguous Hebrew idiom of noseh avon, bearing sin or forgiving sin. If the servant of God bears iniquity, he can be imagined not just to remove sin from the head or shoulders of many but also to carry what he removes; he himself can “bear” it. And when all the people in the Gospel of Matthew call down the blood of Jesus on their heads, they “own” (own up to, but also claim for their own) the rich history of ambiguous responsibility and atonement.

In: Religion and the Arts