Sunday, May 24, 2020

Contemporary relevance of Reception History of the Bible

I just wrote this unproofed and unedited section for the revised and expanded edition of my What Are They Saying about the Parables?.

Here's the part that seems most germane:
“the burning concerns of the German nation”: (a) the moral indifference of wealthy Christians in light of extreme inequalities of wealth that doomed many to great suffering while others lived in “callous opulence,”

A decade later, Wailes published a second book with a narrower focus: the reception of the rich man and Lazarus parable in German drama during the Reformation.[i] The book examines ten German dramas that begin chronologically with “The Zurich Play” (1529) and end Jakob Ayrer’s Tragedie vom rechen Man und armen Lazaro (1598). Part One examines four “South German Plays” (49-164), since they appear “to have given birth to the dramatic tradition” of the rich man and Lazarus. Part Two explores six “Lutheran Plays” (167-303) In sixteenth-century Germany, the rich man and Lazarus parable inspired more plays than the prodigal son parable, which usually dominates drama elsewhere primarily because of its theme of penitence and reconciliation. In Germany in this era, however, the rich man and Lazarus parable is more popular because of “the burning concerns of the German nation”: (a) the moral indifference of wealthy Christians in light of extreme inequalities of wealth that doomed many to great suffering while others lived in “callous opulence,” and (b) the “strongly etched story line” with few details that “readily accepted” further developments and amplification (304-305).   
The opening sentence in the book’s conclusion, while limited to the Reformation in Germany, is also applicable to many other places and eras, and it underscores the need for careful explorations of reception history and the Bible: “It is not easy for educated people at the end of the twentieth century to appreciate the power of the Bible to organize the beliefs and inspire the actions of Germans during the Reformation” (304).  


[i] Stephen L. Wailes, The Rich Man and Lazarus on the Reformation Stage: A Contribution to the Social History of German Drama (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1997).

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

And, Yes, the Last Thurman Quote Sounds Familiar

Compare the post about Doctor Who that I posted in January:


I know I need to get back to posting here from time to time, but until then:


Here's hoping that "The Doctor" is correct (Doctor Who, season 12, episode 2):

"These are the dark times. But they don’t sustain. Darkness never sustains, even though sometimes it feels it might."

The First of the Howard Thurman "Religion of Jesus" Tweets

The Religion of Jesus (1/?), according to #HowardThurman: "We should strive to do what is good not because of some promised reward either in this life or the next but because it is good." You can find it here.

Howard Thurman: "The Religion of Jesus" Tweets


As one response to the many crises facing the world today, the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting problems being caused or heightened by it, I started a daily tweet series about Howard Thurman's views on the Religion of Jesus. Today's 5-part tweet is about his sermon on the Wheat and the Tares parable.  

He talks about why, even when it appears to make no difference, we should choose to do good, including the expectation of Jesus that "the universe does not ultimately sustain tares [evil]".

Monday, January 6, 2020

Hopeful words from "The Doctor"

I know I need to get back to posting here from time to time, but until then:



Here's hoping that "The Doctor" is correct (Doctor Who, season 12, episode 2):

"These are the dark times. But they don’t sustain. Darkness never sustains, even though sometimes it feels it might."



Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Models for Grant Wood's American Gothic

Grant Wood, American Gothic (Art Institute of Chicago)

I just finished my chapter, “The Belated Return of the ‘Son’: Thomas Hart Benton’s Prodigal Son" for the book, Painted Portrayals: The Art of Characterizing Biblical Figures, that will be published by the Society of Biblical Literature Press later this year.

In my brief explanation of Benton's Regionalism, I explained that Benton was one of the “regionalist triumvirate”: Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood. 

The examples of art from Wood and Curry that I listed were Wood’s iconic American Gothic (at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the best art museums in the U.S.) and Curry’s Tragic Prelude–John Brown, in the murals Curry created for the Kansas State Capitol (second floor, east corridor, if you get a chance to go there).

I then came across a newspaper photo of the models for Wood's American Gothic. It was so interesting that I had to share it:

  


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Chapter for SBL Press book: Thomas Hart Benton and the Prodigal Son



I've published two "public scholarship" essays this month (for The Washington Post and Salon), but today I'm working on a book chapter that includes an argument that Thomas Hart Benton's "Prodigal Son" portrays an understanding of labor and migration similar to the one in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (Benton also created images for the film based on the book).

I included part of these arguments in The Parables after Jesus, but in this chapter I will be able to go into much more detail about Benton's life and art and the contexts--personal and national/international--in which he created this work. I also argue that, in part, the image is autobiographical, like many other depictions of the prodigal.

The book chapter, “The Belated Return of the ‘Son’: Thomas Hart Benton’s Prodigal Son,” will be included in Painted Portrayals: The Art of Characterizing Biblical Figures. Bible and Its Reception Series. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Press, forthcoming, 2019.

The book is edited by Heidi J. Hornik, Ian Boxall, and Bobbi Dykema.

Contemporary relevance of Reception History of the Bible

I just wrote this unproofed and unedited section for the revised and expanded edition of my What Are They Saying about the Parables?. Here...