Rubén René Dupertuis
The Acts of the Apostles offers a kind of sequel to Gospel of Luke, telling the story of the spread of the Jesus movement through the activities of key leaders, beginning in Jerusalem, moving westward into the Aegean region, and finally to Rome, the imperial center. Narrative approaches have been instrumental in turning attention to how the author tells the story using the tools of narrative—plot, characterization, and so on—as well as to how the author’s use of linguistic and cultural codes would have been heard by ancient readers. This chapter explores the importance of this westward geographical movement in Acts and, through a reading of the story of Paul’s visit to Philippi (Acts 16:11–40), looks at the ways in which the author of Acts adapts narrative conventions to highlight particular moments in the progression.
Peter C. Bouteneff
Adam and Eve, who barely appear in the Bible after they are introduced in the book of Genesis, serve a short but important list of functions within early Christian writing. They represent Christ and Mary, respectively, among other typological readings of the Paradise narrative. They also stand for all of humanity, partly by virtue of their location at the top of the human genealogy, and partly because their acts in the garden are commonly universalized to represent the sins of each and all. The understanding of their sin as resulting in an original guilt passed on through the generations is by no means a common one in early Christian writing. The question of their historical existence is not foreign to some of the ancient authors—nor does it really preoccupy any of them—but it does not receive a straightforward or consistent answer.
The narrative(s) in Genesis 1–3 is a foundational text for Western discourse on gender and sexuality. To date, studies of biblical masculinities have virtually ignored the biblical first male subject; feminist scholarship has long focused on Eve; and queer readings that render Genesis 1–3 alien to modern discourses are promising but small in number. This chapter takes some tentative first steps toward a more focused reception history of Adam as a gendered subject. In light of the current (and still relatively new) state of scholarship on biblical masculinities, the chapter then proposes that reception history and cultural-historical approaches to biblical “afterlives” offer a promising path for future work. Particular attention is paid to Adam’s gender in Genesis 1–3 itself and in the writings of Paul, as well as in later theological, literary, and artistic texts.
This chapter offers an overview of the history and historiography of some of the nonverbal aspects of American Bibles, focusing on format, bindings, and paper. These features of Bibles have evolved both materially and symbolically, owing to changing technologies, economic considerations, aesthetic preferences, and, crucially, a tension between two opposed ideals regarding the Bible’s physical presence. Americans with various stakes in Bible production have shared a sense that Bibles should be both materially impressive and widely accessible. The changing forms of Bibles make particularly legible the push and pull between transcendence and immanence, a contest ongoing in the digital age.
Russell W. Dalton
Children’s Bibles have been among the most popular and influential types of religious publications in the United States, providing many Americans with their first formative experiences of the Bible and its stories. This chapter explores the variety of ways in which children’s Bibles have adapted, illustrated, and retold Bible stories for children throughout US history. Children’s Bibles served a variety of ends, such as teaching biblical literacy, instilling a fear and respect for God’s power and judgment, calling children to salvation in Jesus Christ, modeling moral virtues, and reframing Bible stories as fun and engaging stories that portray a friendly God who cares for children.
Gerard J. Norton
This article first gives a schematic outline of the history of the Hebrew text in four stages. It then presents the elements that readers will meet in modern editions of that text. These modern editions find a common focus in the great Tiberian manuscripts of about 1000
This chapter considers the future of Anglicanism especially in the light of the interpretation of Scripture. It considers a recent instance of impasse and suggests a possible way forward. It goes on to discuss the contemporary issues concerning Anglican interpretations of scripture by looking at treatment of sexuality and violence. It considers hermeneutical differences among societies. The second half of the chapter questions whether the approach of scriptural reasoning that has been modelled by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, in which Anglicans have played a prominent part, could assist different religions and different cultural contexts in hearing one another and learning to reason about the Bible together.
This chapter discusses the potential relevance of interdisciplinary animal studies for biblical interpretation. The story of Jacob and his family in Genesis 25–32 is examined from the perspective of a “critical animal hermeneutics.” Three features of such a hermeneutics, characteristic of contemporary animal studies, are emphasized: (1) the constitutive importance of “companion species,” emphasized by Donna Haraway, including in Israel’s case goats and sheep; (2) the instability of the human/animal binary, emphasized by Jacques Derrida and other thinkers; and (3) ubiquitous associations between species difference and differences among humans, particularly, in the case of biblical literature, gender and ethnic differences. Each of these features is used to read the story of Jacob and several related biblical texts.
The term ‘apocalypse’ denotes a particular literary type found in the literature of ancient Judaism, characterized by claims to offer visions or other disclosures of divine mysteries concerning a variety of subjects, especially those to do with the future. Cataclysmic events described in these texts are often labelled ‘apocalyptic’ because they resemble the world-shattering events described in John's visions in the book of Revelation. There is only one apocalypse in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Daniel, though the discovery of fragments of an Enoch apocalypse among the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that apocalyptic was a widespread phenomenon in Second Temple Judaism. The concern with human history and the vindication of Israel's hopes echo prophetic themes, several of which have contributed to the language of the book of Revelation, particularly Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.
Robin M. Jensen
Early Christian visual representations of the Virgin Mary include episodes from the apocryphal Protevangelium of James and Pseudo-Matthew and constitute some of the earliest known artistic depictions of any apocryphal texts. These stories’ emergence in early Christian art appears to be associated with the rise of the Virgin’s cult following her official declaration as Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus (431). Certain details from fifth-century mosaics found in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, although contested by scholars, appear to depict the marriage of Mary and Joseph and a mysterious image that some identify as the Holy Family’s arrival in Egypt. Other early references to apocryphal narratives appear on fourth-century Christian sarcophagi that include the ox and ass in the stable and on fifth- and sixth-century ivories that depict the trial of bitter water, the healing of the midwife Salome, and the mocking of Anna by her maidservant.
Charlotte Touati and Claire Clivaz
This chapter focuses on characters that may be considered to play secondary or minor roles in canonical gospels, but are often prominent figures in non-canonical texts: Mary the mother of Jesus, Joseph the father of Jesus, the Magi, John the Baptist and his father Zechariah, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate. Stories about these characters shed light on theological developments that are reflected in other early Christian texts. These developments include the increasingly prominent role of Mary, and anti-Jewish tendencies, which may be seen especially in the evolving role of Pilate, who is distanced even further from responsibility for Jesus’ death than he is in the canonical Gospels. A common feature of these writings is an interest in building on details found in canonical texts, or illuminating areas on which those canonical writings were silent. Thus they appear to have been written to supplement and not to supplant other Christian writings.
In Greek forensic usage, an ‘apology’ (apologia) is a formal speech on behalf of the defendant. The first surviving works to bear this title professed to be records of the speech delivered by Socrates in reply to a capital charge in 399
The dazzling display of emotional intelligence that gives the Confessions, Augustine's most famous work, its resonance for students of the inner life is evident, albeit in more muted hues, in nearly everything that he wrote: sermons, letters, scriptural commentaries, polemical and apologetic works, and theological meditations. This essay examines Augustine's theology of the emotions. First, it takes a closer look at Stoicism in City of God and Augustine's eventual rejection of its theory and practice of emotion. Augustine's rejection of Stoicism is importantly symptomatic of a shift in his notion of will, from a facility for consent to a focus of internal conflict and incoherence. This essay also discusses the connection between sin and self-undoing by entering into Augustine's fascination with a first or original will to sin. The primary resources used are his psychological analysis in City of God of the Adam and Eve of Genesis and his parallel analysis of himself in Confessions, where he describes a fall of his own.
Perhaps no scriptural passage has divided the church so bitterly, or so often, as the ninth article of the Epistle to the Romans. Predestinarian readings take two forms, one of which maintains that God predestines us to salvation or reprobation in the light of faith or works foreseen, the other that this predestining is itself the unconditioned cause of the good that he foresees. Both can claim the authority of Augustine, the foremost theologian of the first millennium. His adversary Pelagius found a different stratagem — not unknown in modern times — which enabled him to deny that Paul endorsed any species of predestination. To explain how each arrived at his conclusions, we must first sketch the theology of salvation that each set out to reconcile with the difficult text of this epistle.
This article discusses authorship, books, and readers in Old Testament and New Testament times. In the Old Testament world, authorship is necessarily admitted in letters, and related to letters are prophetic communications. The usual physical form of the book in Babylonia was the clay tablet, normally of a size convenient to hold in the left hand while the right impressed the cuneiform signs with a reed stylus. The complexity of the cuneiform script meant that reading was a skill confined to those trained in scribal schools, some of whom may have progressed from the scribal profession to take other offices in temples and royal courts. The New Testament writings follow the traditional patterns. The letters declare their senders' identities, although not always by name, with the exception of Hebrews, and the single prophetic work makes its author clear. The roll of papyrus or leather remained the standard form of book throughout the Hellenistic period and well into Roman times. Jewish tradition required males to be able to read the Torah, and there were schools throughout Palestine from the first century
Numbers describes the building of an Israelite collective in the wilderness. A fledgling people struggle mightily to form themselves into a unity but are overcome by their own complaints, desires for a past they leave behind in Egypt and doubts of their ability to conquer the promised land. Several stories highlight the dramatic pressures both internal (how they saw themselves) and external (how they imagined others saw them) that influence the successes and failures of a unified Israel. Yet the self-critique embedded in the tale of the journey leads a new generation to replace dissatisfaction and dissent with a shared determination. A tale of struggles overcome gives the children of Israel a chance to reach for a different future, imagined but not yet fulfilled.
From the time of the Reformation, the Bible has always been among the primary sources for Anglicanism. Through a close study of biblical hermeneutics, this chapter reflects on how ‘scripture’ has been located among the other primary sources, tradition, and reason, at various stages and in different places within Anglican history. The chapter then goes on to argue that context ought to be considered a fourth primary source for Anglicanism. Drawing on postcolonial Anglican biblical interpretation and the experience of various stages of imperial expansion, particularly from a Southern African Anglican context, the chapter analyses how context reconfigures the other three primary sources.
Teresa J. Hornsby
This chapter gives an overview of the roots of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual/transgendered (LGBT) interpretation in the United States. Much of this hermeneutic is tied to various schools of interpretative thought including historical critical, modernist, popular, postmodern, and queer theory. The hermeneutic can also be tied to centuries of Bible translation choices, focusing on certain words and phrases that have become central to much larger interpretative debates. The chapter also gives brief synopses of groundbreaking work in the field of LGBT hermeneutics and the seminal publications in the discipline. It concludes with an overview of the presence of LGBT biblical scholarship in the primary academic organizations.
An artwork picturing biblical subject matter is never a straightforward depiction of a scriptural text. It is a visual translation of it, shaped by available models of interpretation, the aesthetic styles and visual cultures of the era, and the cultural contexts of its production, display, circulation, and reception. This chapter analyzes specific examples of American art to showcase the four primary functions performed by biblical subject matter throughout the nation’s history: to deliver moral instruction, engage sociopolitical concerns, assert communal identity, and render cultural criticism. The expansive and varied visual landscape that results testifies to the bible’s centrality in American art history.
The role of the Bible in Roman Catholicism in the United States has been shaped both by the history and teaching of the universal Catholic Church and by the particular social and religious context of North America. Catholic religious authorities in Europe viewed modern historical-critical methods of biblical interpretation with suspicion, a stance that also roiled the study and use of the Bible in American Catholicism. The impact of the Second Vatican Council opened the doors to the use of modern methods in biblical interpretation and sparked a strong biblical renewal in American Catholicism. The Protestant appeal to scripture (widespread in the United States) and the advent of ecumenism in Catholicism also contributed to an ever-growing popular use of the Bible in Catholic theology, catechesis, and devotional life.