Scott M. Langston
The questions scholars are raising in regard to the biblical text are changing. With increasing frequency biblical scholars are asking, ‘What does the Bible do’?, in recognition that the Bible's impact on individuals, societies, and cultures (and vice-versa) is an important part of understanding the Bible holistically. Unquestionably, understanding a text's inception and formation remains at the heart of biblical studies, but the move to study its wider impact promises to engage a larger number of fields and practitioners and broaden the horizons of biblical scholars. As part of this holistic focus Exodus has proven especially fertile, particularly as a paradigm for critiquing, challenging, and/or overthrowing systems and groups deemed to be oppressive. Interacting with a variety of outside factors, the biblical text has proven flexible enough to accommodate a multitude of distinctions, visions, and solutions.
This article begins with a discussion of the Exodus in the Latin American Bible movement (Movimento Bíblico Latino-Americano) related to the Theology of Liberation. It then looks at the symbol of the Exodus in popular culture, as it is expressed outside of the norms of theological language. The hypothesis is that there is a tension between both traditions. The popular tradition seems never to have addressed the whole of the Exodus narrative, instead making choices that have transformed this key liberation symbol into something very different. Popular culture stresses different topics from those which are important for a theological reading. The article aims to point out the key options which both kinds of approach to the Exodus offer, and to show how they contradict each other. It may also be possible to highlight their different hermeneutics. So the interest here is centred on the interpretative processes, and the choices, classifications, and new discourses that arise from these.
The first article of the Book of Ezekiel inaugurates one of the most profound events in Hebrew Scriptures. Extending well beyond the first article and reappearing later in the prophecy, this event represents Ezekiel's encounter with God in the form of an overwhelming vision. By means of this vision, the prophet is called upon to proclaim the divine message to his people in exile during the period of the Babylonian Captivity. This article discusses how the vision of Ezekiel is integrated into the life of the Nation of Islam by focusing on the teachings and experiences of its two most important exponents: the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, known to the Nation as the Messenger of Allah, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the controversial student of the Messenger. Through them, the vision of Ezekiel assumes its own bearing as a vehicle that has ties at once with ‘popular culture’ and at the same time with the most profound of religious experiences. Designated the Mother Wheel, the Mother Plane, or the Mother Ship, as well as simply the Wheel — this vehicle is not only a marvel of technology but an emblem of the ultimate triumph of the black man over his white oppressor.
This article considers the roles of women in which the New Testament bears witness. In Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, the claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married raised the ire of churches. The more interesting question is: why does it matter to so many people that they were or might have been? To attend exclusively to the question of Jesus' marriage is to evade the general charge laid by the novel's characters at the Church's door: that the Church has consistently marginalized and belittled women. Was Jesus (ever) married? There is no unambiguous evidence, either way, to enable us to decide, and not much ambiguous evidence either; the debate can be refined and subtle and, forever unresolved, can leave disputants as confident as ever of the view they have always maintained or presumed. Far more unsettling is the impassioned argument over the Church's treatment of women; and it may become clear in retrospect that Christian responses to the novel have shone the spotlight so brightly and narrowly on Jesus' supposed marriage that the charge of systemic misogyny has been (conveniently) forgotten in the surrounding darkness.