A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Publications

Micah (Wisdom Commentary, 2015)

This volume brings gender studies to bear on Micah’s powerful rhetoric, interpreting the book within its ancient and modern contexts. Julia M. O’Brien traces resonances of Micah’s language within the Persian Period community in which the book was composed, evaluating recent study of the period and the dynamics of power reflected in ancient sources. Also sampling the book’s reception by diverse readers in various time periods, she considers the real-life implications of Micah’s gender constructs.

micah cover

By bringing the ancient and modern contexts of Micah into view, the volume encourages readers to reflect on the significance of Micah’s construction of the world. Micah’s perspective on sin, salvation, the human condition, and the nature of YHWH affects the way people live—in part by shaping their own thought and in part by shaping the power structures in which they live. O’Brien’s engagement with Micah invites readers to discern in community their own hopes and dreams: What is justice? What should the future look like? What should we hope for?
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies

As the first major encyclopedia of its kind, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies (OEBGS) is the go-to source for scholars and students undertaking original research in the field. Extending the work of nineteenth and twentieth century feminist scholarship and more recent queer studies, the Encyclopedia seeks to advance the scholarly conversation by systematically exploring the ways in which gender is constructed in the diverse texts, cultures, and readers that constitute “the world of the Bible.” With contributions from leading scholars in gender and biblical studies as well as contemporary gender theorists, classicists, archaeologists, and ancient historians, this comprehensive reference work reflects the diverse and interdisciplinary nature of the field and traces both historical and modern conceptions of gender and sexuality in the Bible.

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Aesthetics of Violence in the Prophets

book cover“Violent Pictures, Violent Cultures?
The ‘Aesthetics of Violence’ in Contemporary Film”

At the 2006 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Prophetic Texts in their Ancient Contexts section devoted a session to the theme “The Aesthetics of Violence. Participants were invited to explore  multiple dimensions of prophetic  texts and their violent rhetoric.  The results were rich– engaging discussion of violent images in ancient Near Eastern art and in modern film, as well as advancing our understanding of the poetic skill required for invoking terror through words.

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The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Fourth Edition)

book coverIntroduction and Notes to Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah

The premier study Bible used by scholars, pastors, undergraduate and graduate students, The New Oxford Annotated Bible offers a vast range of information, including extensive notes by experts in their fields; in-text maps, charts, and diagrams; supplementary essays on translation, biblical interpretation, cultural and historical background, and other general topics.

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Nahum (Second Edition)

Nahum (2nd ed)In its wanton celebration of violence, the book of Nahum poses ethical challenges to the modern reader. O’Brien offers the first full-scale engagement with this dimension of the book, exploring the ways in which the artfulness of its poetry serves the book’s violent ideology, highlighting how its rhetoric attempts to render the Other fit for annihilation.

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Theological Bible Commentary

book coverHosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Most one-volume Bible commentaries focus on standard scholarly issues, answering questions such as who wrote the book, who was addressed, and how the book is structured. In contrast, this is the first one-volume commentary to emphasize theological questions: What does each biblical book say about God? How does the book describe God and portray Gods actions? Who is God in these biblical books?

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Challenging Prophetic Metaphor

book coverThe prophets of the Old Testament use a wide variety of metaphors to describe God. Some of these metaphors are familiar and soothing; others are unfamiliar and confusing. Still others portray God in ways that are difficult and uncomfortable: God as abusive husband or as neglectful father, for instance. Julia O’Brien searches the Prophetic Books for these metaphors, looking for ways that these images intersect and build off one another. When confronted with disturbing metaphors, she deals with them unflinchingly, providing a sharp critique and evaluation of their predominant interpretations. Attending to the possible uses of these metaphors in the church (for good or ill), O’Brien points us toward new ways to read these theological metaphors for a just faith today.

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Invitation to Psalms

book coverThe human emotions expressed in the Book of Psalms rise to peaks of joy and descend into valleys of despair. In the Psalms, the promise of the reign of God meets the historical experience of God’s people. Faith in God’s faithfulness collides with human experiences of pain and suffering, enslavement, oppression, and exile. God’s people–given voice in the Psalms–struggle to make sense of who God is and who they are, and in so doing they have composed a collection of moving testimonies of grace, glory, sorrow, and beauty unmatched in sacred literature. For students of the Psalms today, this study offers greater understanding of how these ancient texts of praise, lament, worship, and prayer can still speak to us and for us.

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Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

book coverThe Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries provide compact, critical commentaries on the book sof the Old Testament for the use of theological students and pastors. The commentaries are also useful for upper-level college or university students and for those responsible for teaching in congregational settings. In addition to providing basic information and insights into the Old Testament writings, these commentaries exemplify the tasks and procedures of careful interpretation, to assist students of the Old Testament in coming to an informed and critical engagement with the biblical texts themselves.

The six books found at the close of the Minor Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) present distinctive understandings of God, humanity, and the future. This commentary engages those understandings, considers what the books may have meant in the past, and describes how they resonate with contemporary readers. With attention to issues of gender, violence, and inclusivity, O’Brien explores the ethical challenges of the books and asks how faithful readers can both acknowledge the problems these biblical books raise and appreciate their value for contemporary theological reflection.

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