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

What do I want my writing to accomplish?

My goal in writing about the Bible is to generate discussion about important issues.  Honest, real discussion that pays attention to the implications of what we’re saying.

My Abingdon commentary on the last 6 minor prophets attempts to explain Nahum through Malachi. I’m interested in the setting in which the books were written and what their language means.  But mostly I am interested in how they lead readers to think–about God, themselves, and the world we live in–and how we might respond to that way of thinking.

I wrote Challenging Prophetic Metaphor as an alternative to the either-or thinking that most people apply to the “problems” of the Bible.  In my work with churches, students, and just about everyone I meet, I find that folks either deny that the Bible has any problems at all or reject it as too nasty to have anything meaningful to say.

My alternative approach isn’t really a middle ground.  It doesn’t try to balance the good and bad of the Bible.  Rather, it suggests that when you quit worrying if you’re going to have to obey the Bible then you can begin to engage it much more seriously and helpfully.

I took as my case study the metaphors that the prophets of the Old Testament use for God and people.  These metaphors are certainly difficult.  God is described as a husband who threatens to kill his wayward wife; a father who repeatedly beats his rebellious son; and a warrior who pillages and rapes enemies. The two metaphors I’ve chosen for people sound, on the surface, like more positive ones:  Daughter Jerusalem and Brother Edom.  But, in these cases, too, we can see how these metaphors reinforce stereotypes and dangerous ways of thinking about others.

What I hope my books do is encourage discussion about the prophets, the Bible in general, our images of God, and power relations in the contemporary world.


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