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A review of Dr. Grafius’s book by Cambridge University Professor Nathan MacDonald.
This appeared in the recent issue of Journal for the Study of the Old Testament.
Reading Phinehas, Watching Slashers: Horror Theory and Numbers 25
In this interesting and innovative book, G. combines historical-critical exegesis together with psychoanalytical and social-scientific approaches to horror films in order to interpret the story of Phinehas’s violent dispatch of Zimri and Cozbi. In G.’s reading, Numbers 25 with its themes of sexual transgressions, communal anxieties about societal structure and boundaries, and horrific violence is best understood as a horror narrative. Contemporary theory about horror films, especially 1980s slasher films, can shed light on how the narrative constructs Phinehas as an avenging monster who restores order through his violent acts. Early interpreters such as Philo, Pseudo-Philo and Josephus respond to the narrative in similar ways as viewers of contemporary horror films: enjoying the illicit sexual transgression on display while also distancing themselves from it and affirming the reassertion of familial and societal norms. The study is well written and clearly organized. A couple of chapters examine the historical-critical approach to Numbers 25, a couple of chapters describe horror theory and apply it to Numbers 25, and a final chapter examines the reception of Phinehas in early Jewish literature. There is an introduction and conclusion as well as an annotated translation of the biblical text. A provocative and engaging study.
NATHAN MACDONALD, Cambridge University
Political Spirituality for a Century of Water Wars: The Angel of the Jordan Meets the Trickster of Detroit, a new monograph by ETS faculty James W. Perkinson
This book offers resources for re-imagining the biblical vision of water for a time quickly emerging as “the century of water wars” (successor to the 20th century’s “oil wars”). In 2015, the United Nations reported that by 2025, two thirds of humanity will not have access to clean drinking water; according to a Michigan State University study of 2017, one third of all US citizens will be unable to pay their water bills by 2020. The question of “who drinks, who bathes” will rapidly assume apocalyptic dimensions globally given the growing climate crisis. The book projected takes its animus and urgency from the author’s four year activist engagement with a grass-roots-led social movement, pushing back on Detroit water shutoffs in advocacy of a water affordability plan correlating income with usage. Provoked by that immediate struggle and beholden to an interreligious methodology of “crossing over and coming back,” the text will creatively re-read the biblical tradition under tutelage to the mythologies and practices of various indigenous cultures whose embrace of water is animate and spiritual as well as political and communal. More regional Algonquian and Wendet sensibility coupled with Voudou and Yoruban traditions and ancient Celtic and Gallic mythology will open new vision on the centrality of water-struggles in the biblical corpus, culminating in the Baptist’s challenge to water privatization under Roman rule and Jesus’ championing of “living water” for the peasant majority, against Temple-State “commodification” of the “rain-gift” in a tithe. Not enough, today, merely to engage the political battle over water rights, however; indigenous wisdom and biblical prophecy alike insist that recovery of water spirituality is central to a sustainable future. Indigenous vision will here re-invigorate relations with our global water commons by re-hydrating Spirit vocabularies and practices that have historically been rendered desiccated and “reducido” (in Spanish colonial terms) by imperial monoculture.
Wisdom Poured Out Like Water, a new publication co-edited by ETS faculty member James Waddell
ETS faculty member James Waddell is co-editor of a new book titled “Wisdom Poured Out Like Water: Studies on Jewish and Christian Antiquity in Honor of Gabriele Boccaccini,” Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 38 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018). The book is co-edited by the late J. Harold Ellens (Ecumenical Seminary, Detroit), Isaac de Oliveira (Bradley University), Jason von Ehrenkrook (U. Mass. Boston), James Waddell (Ecumenical Seminary, Detroit), and Jason Zurawski (U. of Groningen), all former Ph.D. students of Professor Gabriele Boccaccini of the Department of Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan. The volume is published by De Gruyter and is now available. Volumes like this are usually priced for library purchases. To soften the blow of the cost of the entire volume for individuals, specific contributions to the volume are also available for purchase on the De Gruyter web site. Dr. Waddell’s article is titled, “‘I Have Been Born Among You’: Jesus, Jews, and Christians in the Second Century.”
Click here to read Dr. Waddell’s contribution to this volume.
“The Early Reception of Paul the Second Temple Jew.”
The meeting took place from June 26 to 30, 2016 at the Waldensian School of Theology in Rome. The proceedings have been published by T.&T. Clark under the title, The Early Reception of Paul the Second Temple Jew: Text, Narrative and Reception History. Isaac W. Oliver and Gabriele Boccaccini, editors. The Library of Second Temple Studies 92. Lester Grabbe, editor. London: Bloomsbury T.&T. Clark, 2018. Dr. Waddell contributed chapter 6 of this volume, which is titled “The Shadow and the Substance: Early Reception of Paul the Jew in the Letter to the Colossians” (75–87). The intent of the seminar (and the newly published volume), according to Boccaccini, is to present the definitive go-to research on the reception of Paul.
Dr. Urias H. Beverly Authors Book, “Spiritual Alignment: From God to Eternity,”
A reflection on Dr. Urias H. Beverly's book, Spiritual Alignment by Tony Curtis Henderson. In this volume, Dr. Urias H. Beverly explores the topic of spiritual alignment and its essential significance in bringing or restoring balance to our individual and corporate lives. Here, he provides the reader and the researcher with a definitive description of the subject through the use of several examples that illustrate what spiritual alignment is and is not.
After, he helps the reader to understand the subject. He gives a bit of historical development as he invites and encourages the reader to hear the conclusion of the narrative. Included in the historical development of spiritual alignment are its origin, growth, stagnation, and restoration in the lives of individual believers in and practitioners of spirituality.
For persons who wrestle with the complexities or challenges of life, and who have some difficulty in navigating a healthy path to a viable solution to their situations, Dr. Beverly offers us a source of hope that can help us to achieve the joy and peace of wholeness that God has provided for us. Urias does an excellent job of providing another effective resource that may be used by persons of faith, ministers, pastoral counselors, and others to recover or restore balance to our lives through spiritual alignment.
This book is written in such a way that the author masterfully carries the reader on a journey that moves one to laughter, tears, deep self-reflection, and personal assessment. All seminarians should be required to read this great work. I highly recommend that anyone who will be serving in any area of pastoral ministry or family ministry should read this book.
Rev. Tony Curtis Henderson
DMin. Associate professor of Practical Theology
Ecumenical Theological Seminary. Detroit, Michigan.
Our faculty have doctorates from institutions such as Harvard, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City.