Whether watching political candidates quote Jesus or tracking court cases on how the stories of Adam and Eve should be taught in schools, we are surrounded by the legacy of the Bible in our contemporary world. Every person needs to know the core Bible stories—those biblical stories that have cultural, historical, or literary significance—that lie at the foundation of Western civilization. Professor Timothy Beal argues that without knowing these core stories, we cannot fully participate in the popular, political, and especially spiritual worlds that surround us. Have you ever been told that you are the apple of someone's eye? Have you ever described a disastrous situation as the blind leading the blind or easily predicted the future by reading the writing on the wall? Unbeknownst to most of us, all these common expressions have biblical roots. In Biblical Literacy, Beal showcases the Bible stories that have most shaped history and our world and provides the key information we need to know for how to understand these profound stories. In addition, Beal delves into the important historical and cultural back-ground information so that readers can fully understand the impact of these stories on the world we live in now. For a quick and fun reference, Beal provides the reader with a complete glossary of common phrases and images that have surprising biblical origins, as well as an easily navigable glossary of biblical keywords. Whether an atheist or a churchgoer, every person will benefit from this entry-level course into the heart of the most influential book of all time.
Timothy Beal provides a concise cultural history of Revelation and the apocalyptic imaginations it has fueled. Taking readers from the book's composition amid the Christian persecutions of first-century Rome to its enduring influence today in popular culture, media, and visual art, Beal explores the often wildly contradictory lives of this sometimes horrifying, sometimes inspiring biblical vision. He shows how such figures as Augustine and Hildegard of Bingen made Revelation central to their own mystical worldviews, and how, thanks to the vivid works of art it inspired, the book remained popular even as it was denounced by later church leaders such as Martin Luther. Attributed to a mysterious prophet identified only as John, Revelation speaks with a voice unlike any other in the Bible. Beal demonstrates how the book is a multimedia constellation of stories and images that mutate and evolve as they take hold in new contexts, and how Revelation is reinvented in the hearts and minds of each new generation. This succinct book traces how Revelation continues to inspire new diagrams of history, new fantasies of rapture, and new nightmares of being left behind.
Celebrating the five hundredth volume, this Festschrift honors David M. Gunn, one of the founders of the Journal of Old Testament Studies, later the Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, and offers essays representing cutting-edge interpretations of the David material in the Hebrew Bible and later literary and popular culture. Essays in Part One, Relating to David, present David in relationship to other characters in Samuel. These essays demonstrate the value of close reading, analysis of literary structure, and creative, disciplined readerly imagination in interpreting biblical texts in general and understanding the character of David in particular. Part Two, Reading David, expands the narrative horizon. These essays analyze the use of the David character in larger biblical narrative contexts. David is understood as a literary icon that communicates and disrupts meaning in different ways in different context. More complex modes of interpretation enter in, including theories of metaphor, memory and history, psychoanalysis, and post-colonialism. Part Three, Singing David, shifts the focus to the portrayal of David as singer and psalmist, interweaving in mutually informative ways both with visual evidence from the ancient Near East depicting court musicians and with the titles and language of the biblical psalms. Part Four, Receiving David, highlights moments in the long history of interpretation of the king in popular culture, including poetry, visual art, theatre, and children's literature. Finally, the essays in Part Five, Re-locating David, represent some of the intellectually and ethically vital interpretative work going on in contexts outside the U.S. and Europe.
The Passion of the Christ was an extraordinary media event. But the film has also, and more importantly, been a religious phenomenon. Mel Gibson's professed intent was to create not just a cinematic experience but a spiritual one. And he has succeeded for many moviegoers, most notably evangelical Christians, of whom millions have embraced the film as a presentation of Holy Scripture, a twenty-first century incarnation of the Word. In this volume, biblical scholars Timothy K. Beal and Tod Linafelt—along with an esteemed group of contributors—offer a provocative range of views on The Passion of the Christ. Their book is organized in three parts. The first analyzes the film in terms of its religious foundations, including the Gospels and nonbiblical religious texts: What are the film's literary sources and how does it use them? In what ways does the medium of film require a radically different way of representing gospel narrative? The second group of essays focuses on the ethical and theological implications of the film's presentation of the Christian gospel: What do we make of its representations of female sexuality? What are the implications of focusing on the Passion in terms of atonement rather than social justice? Finally, the third section explores the film as a pop cultural phenomenon: How has the film worked to create a sense of insider status for some and alienated so many others? What can we learn about the religious dimensions of contemporary mass culture from the film's reception? Whether one is inspired or appalled by The Passion of the Christ, there can be no question that it is a defining moment in the cultural afterlife of the Bible. This volume tries to make sense of that moment and will prove to be a touchstone for adherents and detractors of the film alike.
Named a Best Print Reference title of 2015 by Library Journal The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts (OEBART) is an in-depth, comprehensive reference work that covers the cultural history of biblical texts, themes, characters, images, and the Bible itself in the literary, visual, and musical arts. Appearing in response to the shifting landscape of biblical studies over the last decade, OEBART embraces the broadest possible definition of "interpretation," one that includes a cultural-historical perspective. Entries are organized primarily according to specific literary, visual, and musical artists, types of works, and periods (e.g., Mozart, Shakespeare, Children's Bibles, Early Christian Art), revealing how the Bible figures in each. OEBART contains 148 entries ranging in length from 2,000 to 10,000 words. With bibliographic references and suggestions for further reading, each entry provides scholars and students with a reliable source of specialist information on topics that are not covered by existing general reference works. OEBART distinguishes itself as the superior reference by providing substantively longer, in-depth articles written not only by leading biblical scholars, but also by prominent scholars in the various fields of art in which the Bible figures, and including information on each subject as well as on the history of the scholarly research concerning that subject; by following a topical organization based on a cultural-historical rather than a reception-historical perspective; and through its integration into a larger suite of reference works from Oxford University Press that will be the go-to digital (through Oxford Biblical Studies Online) and print resources for biblical studies.
Religion's great and powerful mystery fascinates us, but also terrifies. In this work, Timothy K. Beal writes about the monsters that lurk in our religious texts, and about how monsters and religion are deeply entwined; horror and faith are inextricable. The book is designed for students of religion and popular culture, as well as any readers with an interest in horror.
It's hard to think of a single aspect of American culture, past or present, in which religion has not played a major role. The roles religion plays, moreover, become more bewilderingly complex and diverse every day. For all those who want--whether out of curiosity, necessity, or civic duty--a vivid picture and fuller understanding of the current reality of religion in America, this Very Short Introduction is the go-to book they need. Timothy Beal describes many aspects of religion in contemporary America that are typically ignored in other books on the subject, including religion in popular culture and counter-cultural groups; the growing phenomenon of "hybrid" religious identities, both individual and collective; the expanding numbers of new religious movements, or NRMs, in America; and interesting examples of "outsider religion," such as Paradise Gardens in Georgia and the People Love People House of God in Ohio. He also offers an engaging overview of the history of religion in America, from Native American traditions to the present day. Beal sees three major forces shaping the present and future of religion in America: first, unprecedented religious diversity, which will continue to grow in the decades to come; second, the information revolution and the emergence of a new network society; and third, the rise of consumer culture. Taken together, these forces offer the potential to create a new American pluralism that would enrich society in unimaginable ways, but they also threaten the great ideal of e pluribus unum. With visual aids that help readers navigate America's diverse religious landscape, this informative, thoughtful, and provocative book is a must-read in the emerging public conversation concerning religion in America. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
In this revelatory exploration of one of our most revered icons, a critically acclaimed author and professor takes us back to early Christianity to ask how a box of handwritten scrolls became the Bible, and forward to see how the multibillion-dollar business that has brought us Biblezines and Manga Bibles is selling down the Bible’s sacred capital. Showing us how a single official text was created from the proliferation of different scripts, Beal traces its path as it became embraced asthe word of God and Book of books. Among his surprising insights: • Christianity thrived for centuries without any Bible—there was no official canon of scriptures, much less a book big enough to hold them all. Congregations used various collections of scrolls and codices. • There is no “original” Bible, no single source text behind the thousands of different Bibles on the market today. The farther we go back in the Bible’s history, the more versions we find. • The idea of the Bible as the literal Word of God is relatively new—only about a century old. Beal’s is an inspiring new take on the Bible. In calling for a fresh understanding of the ways scriptures were used in the past, he offers the chance to rediscover a Bible, and a faith, that is truer to its own history—not a book of answers but a library of questions.
In this handy volume, two professors of religious studies provide the student of religious studies - whether the motivated undergraduate, graduate student, or professor - with a brief review of theorists' work from the perspective of religious studies. For example, in 5-10 pages, the reader will get a review of Emmanuel Levinas's work as it offers insights for scholars in religious studies, followed by a selected bibliography. In short, this is a guide for students of religious studies that will take major theoretical writers in the humanities and social sciences and explain their relevance to the study of religion.