Monday, March 16, 2009

My Essay Now Published in Bible and Critical Theory e-journal

My essay, Atonement patterns in biblical narrative:Rebellious Sons, Scapegoats and Boy Substitutes, is now out in the first issue for 2009 of the Bible & Critical Theory e-Journal. Below is the abstract:

The paper gives an overview of Atonement ritual patterns and symbolism before examining how Atonement elements are played out in certain biblical narratives. I survey a number of narratives from Genesis, Joshua, Judges and 1 Samuel before exploring the atonement patterns in the 2 Samuel story of the rebellion and death of Absalom. The Day of Atonement was not unique to the ‘Israelite’ Temple/s. While I believe ‘Israel’ had its own unique understanding of Atonement, ‘Israelite’ Temple symbolism, rituals and motifs are derived from and are part of a broader family of Middle Eastern Temple theologies and practice. Atonement is related to the New Year and world renewal, celebrating the divine overcoming of Chaos e.g Marduk vs Tiamat, El/Athirat vs Yam/Leviathan, Baal vs Yam & Mot, YHWH vs Yam/Leviathan(/Azazel?). Over 30 years ago, Rictor Norton identified a homo-erotic element in such mythologies and associated sacrificial rituals. My reading of Atonement patterns in the Absalom narrative highlights such homo-erotic possibilities.

If that whets your appetite, I'm afraid the e-Journal is only available through individual subscription or through subscribing libraries. These will most likely be university libraries. However, in this issue there are a couple of free access items: the editorial by Roland Boer and Julie Kelso, and an essay, Sour Grapes, Fermented Selves: Musical Shulammites Modulate Subjectivity, by Heidi Epstein. Here's the abstract to encourage you to check it out:

How might a strange intersection of disparate fields – biblical criticism and New Musicology – generate mutually sustenant fruit? ‘Seeds’ for the latter, I propose, would lie in reading musical settings of the Song of Solomon with interpretive lenses that New Musicologists have been developing since the late 1980s. In this essay, musical settings of the Song are read from this perspective in hopes that such new musicological ‘exegeses’ may add discursive breadth to the latest biblical critical discussions about the Song’s thematics. This paper places two pop music settings of the Song ‘in conversation’ with opposing sides of a recent debate over the Song’s erotic content: feminist (biblical) scholars conventionally framed the Song and its heroine’s romantic pursuits as odes to the joy of egalitarian heterosexual love; more recent provocateurs have queered its pitch to accommodate s/m fantasies of a bottom’s ‘pain-filled pleasures’ (Boer, Moore and Burrus). Steeleye Span’s ‘Awake, awake’ (1977) and the Pixies’ ‘I’ve Been Tired’ (1987) curiously anticipate these polemics. Steeleye’s electric folk and the Pixies’ post-punk alternative styles seem respectively to honour and revile this canonical text and its mysterious animatrice. The former’s music and lyrics reproduce the harmonious, linear pas de deux thatreaders coerce from the text. By contrast, the latter’s soundscape drags the pair through musical grunge. However, reread via New Musicology’s sense of music as a culturally inflected ‘technique of the self,’ study of text-music relations, the songs’ historical contexts, and the social meanings of musical genre recast these two settings as fraternal twins. Additionally, the Shulammite’s musical peregrinations produce new allegorical registers within the canticle, and broaden in unlikely directions the scope of the sonically rendered ‘sacred erotic,’ now disruptively reconfigured within popular music.

You can also read the abstracts for the other essays in this issue on the site. These are:

Back to the future: Reading Heidegger Reading Paul, Lars Brunn

Bobbittizing God: On the importance of the divine genitals remaining unManageable, Philip Culbertson

How to read an interpretation: Interpretive strategies and the maintenance of authority, Craig Martin

And as always there's a stack of book reviews.

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