Preview of “Scripture and Subversion” Panel

Preview of “Scripture and Subversion” Panel

Scripture and Subversion


Valerie Ranee Landfair“An African-American Pentecostal Reading of Hagar: Through the Aesthetics of Silence and the Politics of Recognition”

Valerie Landfair of Regent School of Divinity will present a Pentecostal perspective of Hagar’s story that can be read as an empowering use of vision and gender for women. Hagar’s narrative in Genesis 16 will be used examine the power of recognition and the aesthetic of silence. This study argues that African-American women become Hagar’s daughters when moved into a place where God sees them, speaks to them directly, and calls them by name. This transformation liberates them to be able to fulfill their unique purposes for, and in the kingdom of God, even though they remain subject to shackles, including racism, classism, and sexism.

Mark James“Origen, Power, and the Naturalness of Names”

Mark James of the University of Virginia will present Origen’s version of linguistic naturalism as a potentially viable alternative that anticipates a pragmatic alternative to structuralism. Taking up and transforming earlier Stoic accounts of the mimetic function of names, Origen argues that the naturalness of names consists also in their real power in the world, by which, we might say, the scriptural word becomes a kind of weapon in the martyr’s ‘struggle even to death’ against the physical weapons of Rome (CC 1.24). Origen can help us see how power relations not only distort language but can also be part of the meaningful (and liberating) operation of language in its integrity — not least the language of scripture.

Ezra Blaustein“The Hermeneutics of an Outsider: Torah, New Testament, and Quran in Simon Duran’s Bow and Shield”

Ezra Blaustein of the University of Chicago Divinity School will examine the hermeneutics of Simon Duran (1361-1444), a Jewish scholar who lived under both Christian and Muslim rule, as found in his work Qeshet u-Magen [Bow and Shield], a work that provides an instructive example of how scripture was used in medieval inter-religious disputation. This analysis will uncover the complicated relationship between a canonical text and the religion that sees it as sacred by demonstrating how Duran can dismiss claims against the Torah as based on incorrect interpretations, but his own arguments against Christian and Muslim scriptures are similarly weakened.

Ardaine L. Gooden“Male Violence: A Biblical Exploration of Male Rape and Sexual Assault”

Ardaine Gooden of Howard University School of Divinity will present an exploration of the phenomenon of male rape, supported mainly by biblical literature. By employing Genesis 19 and Judges 19 narratives which are commonly used to justify anti-homosexual stance, the paper indicates that an alternate reading of the text indicates the presence of male rape. This analysis raises questions of the nature of rape and how it is perpetrated upon the victims regardless of the sex of the victim and makes the claim that it is essential that male rape be recognized in order to unconditionally understand the nature of sexual violence.

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Ridicule and Rationality

Ridicule and Rationality

Mark James has a second post exploring public Scripture up at State of Formation. Calling all Jon Stewart fans:

One of [Stewart’s] favorite strategies is to quote the Bible at Christians who claim to uphold ‘Biblical’ viewpoints.  Last November, the British Supreme Court ruled against two Christian owners of a bed and breakfast, who had a policy of refusing service to gay (and other unmarried) couples.  In a statement, the couple justified themselves by quoting the ‘Biblical’ definition of marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.’

Stewart had some choice words for them: ‘that’s bull-s***!’  But he was not, as one might expect, directly attacking their sexual ethics.  Rather, Stewart was mocking them for their failure to show hospitality to strangers: ‘If you were Christians, you wouldn’t charge weary travelers to stay in your home in the first place,’ he said.  ‘That’s just Jesus 101!’  And to make the point, he hammered them with the New Testament, quoting chapter and verse: ‘Romans 15:7 — therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God! . . . 1 Peter 4:9 — Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.’  And for good measure: ‘Olive Garden 24:7 – when one is with you, he is family!’

Read more at State of Formation.

I Am Not Ashamed

I Am Not Ashamed

Check out this blog post by Mark James, one of our conference organizers, exploring one of the ways Scripture is deployed in the political arena:

You may have heard about Mark Pryor, embattled Democratic Senator of Arkansas, who just released an ad promoting his allegiance to the Bible as his ‘North Star.’ It has invited comparisons with this spot by Rick Perry, particularly since both begin with the words ‘I am not ashamed . . .‘  Both publicly confess their Christian faith.  But while Perry goes on to offer a list of specific conservative grievances — no prayer in school, the presence of homosexuals in the military — Pryor sticks with generalities: “The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers . . . and neither political party is always right.”  Pryor’s ad has produced some sharp reactions among those dismayed by his political calculation that he needs to trumpet his Christian faith to win re-election.

Read more at State of Formation.