Reception Exegesis of Lamentations. A Review Article.

John Riches, author of the Galatians volume (2008), has written an important review article on Paul Joyce and Diana Lipton’s Lamentations through the Centuries in the Blackwell Series, where the term “Reception Exegesis” first appears. See the March issue of The Expository Times available on line.

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Special “Reception History” issue of HeBAI

Of enormous interest to everyone is the special “Reception History” issue of the journal Hebrew and Ancient Israel, edited by Carol Newsom, with articles by John Sawyer, Hermann Spieckermann, Gary Anderson, Choon-Leong Seow and Martin O’Kane. HeBAI 1, 3 (2012), pp.295-423

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New prize established for budding reception historians

The Society of Biblical Literature released the following announcement today:


De Gruyter, in partnership with The Society of Biblical Literature, has launched an annual “Prize for Biblical Studies and Reception History” to support biblical scholars in the early stages of their careers who are working in the field of reception history. The inaugural prize will be awarded at the SBL Annual Meeting in November 2014.

De Gruyter’s sponsorship of the award will include an annual cash prize of $1,500 for the best recent unpublished dissertation or first monograph in biblical studies, with special attention to the field of reception history. The prize will also include a commitment to publish the winning work after it has been revised into a publishable book acceptable to De Gruyter.

SBL will manage the submissions, support the committee of scholars to evaluate the works submitted, and select the winning dissertation or monograph. The award committee will consist of seven persons, five of which will be appointed by SBL’s Research and Publications Committee, with two scholars appointed by De Gruyter.

The award promotes the study of the reception history of the Bible and aims to highlight the broad impact of the Bible in a wide variety of historical contexts and cultural settings. “De Gruyter has taken an active and leading role in this growing field in biblical studies, one that cultivates interdisciplinary studies in the humanities,” said John Kutsko, SBL’s Executive Director. He added, “In addition to SBL’s attention to its member’s increasing focus on reception history of the Bible through its own publishing program, SBL is grateful to De Gruyter for investing in this area of research and teaching.” “Reception history illustrates the remarkable influence of the Bible throughout history and in all aspects of society and culture, including literature, film, music, politics, and the visual and performing arts,” said Albrecht Döhnert, De Gruyter’s Editorial Director of Religious Studies. “SBL scholars cover a breathtaking range of knowledge, including the origins and context of biblical texts, as well as the reception of the Bible in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and beyond. Its membership will be a rich pool for groundbreaking work.”

Details for eligibility, dates for submitting manuscripts for the 2014 inaugural prize, and submission guidelines are available here.

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In defense of reception history

Last month, the Bible and Interpretation website published an op-ed piece in which Roland Boer comes out ‘against “reception history”’ (and, implicitly, the Blackwell Bible Commentaries series for popularizing the term; see footnote 1). Ironically, the occasion for this criticism seems to be Boer’s completion of Cave Droppings: Nick Cave and Religion (to be published by Equinox in 2012), a book that those of us involved in the Blackwell Bible Commentaries might consider an exercise in reception history to the extent that ‘Cave has written novels, plays, poetry and, above all, music which often engages with the Bible in creative ways’ (Boer). Whence the disconnect between Boer’s attention to ‘Nick Cave and his interpretations of the Bible’ and his stance ‘against “reception history”’?

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Pepperdine Magazine Profiles Filmmaker Tom Shadyac

Tom ShadyacAlthough no entry on filmmaker Tom Shadyac appears in the recently-released Encyclopedia of Religion and Film (ed. Eric Mazur, 2010, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO), Shadyac has left his mark on the reception history of the Bible with his films Bruce Almighty (arguably a scene in the reception history of the book of Job, and examined in my entry on ‘God’ in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Film) and the somewhat mistitled Evan Almighty (clearly indebted to the book of Genesis, but released after the final draft of my ‘God’ article had been submitted to the editor). In addition to making films, Shadyac is an adjunct professor of communication at Pepperdine University, and is profiled in the spring 2011 issue of Pepperdine Magazine, freely available online.

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Encyclopedia of Religion and Film

Encyclopedia of Religion and Film

Mazur, E. M., ed. 2011. Encyclopedia of Religion and Film. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

After numerous delays, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Film edited by Eric Michael Mazur (Gloria and David Furman Chair of Judaic Studies at Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk) has finally appeared in print. The 644-page volume includes contributions by Blackwell Bible Commentaries authors Eric Christianson (‘Coppola, Francis Ford’) and Christopher Heard (‘Animated Films’, ‘God’).

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Brief Bibliography for the Bible and Its Literary Afterlife

Last year, Anthony C. Swindell provided us with a ‘brief bibliography for the Bible and its literary afterlife,’ consisting of books published after the year 2000. With many apologies to Dr Swindell for our lack of alacrity during a period where maintenance of the website flagged, we are now delighted to supply Dr Swindell’s bibliography to our readers below; a downloadable version is also available.

  • Borgman, Eric et al., eds. 2004. Literary Canons and Religious Identity. Aldershot: Ashgate. Miscellaneous essays with stress on postmodern treatment of the Other.
  • Britt, Brian. 2004. Rewriting Moses. London: T. and T. Clark. Argues persuasively for the eclipse of the law-maker by the military hero.
  • Exum, J. Cheryl, ed. 2007. Retellings: The Bible in Literature, Music, Art and Film. Leiden: Brill. Useful essays.
  • Gubar, Susan. 2009. Judas, a Biography. New York: Norton. A fairly exhaustive survey.
  • Jack, Alison M. 2010. Scottish Fiction as Gospel Exegesis. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix. Innovative study covering James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mrs Oliphant and Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
  • Knight, Mark and Thomas Woodman, eds. 2006. Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700–2000. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006. Useful essays on disparate topics.
  • Lang, Bernhard. 2009. Joseph in Egypt: A Cultural Icon from Grotius to Goethe. New Haven: Yale University Press. The Joseph story in 17th and 18th century European literature, with helpful summaries of the hypertexts.
  • Lemon, Rebecca et al. 2009. The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature. Oxford: Blackwell. Distinguished essays on major writers from the Old English period to the War Poets.
  • Most, Glenn W. 2005. Doubting Thomas. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Strong on scenes of ‘noli me tangere’ in art, with selective forays into literature, notable the Grimm brothers’ version of ‘Marienkind.’
  • Polhemus, Robert M. 2005. Lot’s Daughters. Stanford: Stanford University Press. A selective survey covering art and literature.
  • Swindell, Anthony C. 2009. How Contemporary Novelists Rewrite Stories from the Bible. Lampeter and New York: Mellen. A critique of monographs covering the literary afterlives of Eve, Cain and Abel, the Flood, Solomon and Sheba, Jezebel, Job, Jonah, Judith, the Virgin Mary, the Magi, Mary Magdalene, Judas, Pontius Pilate and the Apocalypse.
  • Swindell, Anthony C. 2010. Reworking the Bible: The Literary Reception-History of Fourteen Biblical Stories. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix. Covers radical literary rewritings of Eden, Noah, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Nebuchadnezzar, Susanna, Esther, Jesus Christ, Salome, Lazarus, the Prodigal Son and the Descent into Hell in the light of Bahktin and (particularly) the later Genette.
  • Wright, T. R. 2007. The Genesis of Fiction: Modern Novelists as Gospel Interpreters. Aldershot: Ashgate. A magisterial study of the sources of such modern rewriters as Steinbeck, Jenny Diski and Thomas Mann, beginning with an essay on midrash and intertextuality.
  • Ziolkowski, Eric. 2001. Evil Children in Religion, Literature and Art. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Covers the mocking of Elisha in fascinating detail.
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Recent Publications

Please take note of the following recent publications in reception history:

If you know of other recent or forthcoming publications treating the reception history of biblical texts, please let us know!

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The Bible in the Seventeenth Century

Conference in York commemorating the 400th Anniversary of King James Authorized Version. Submit e-mail or visit the conference website to request more information.

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Conflict and Convergence: Jewish and Christian Approaches to the Psalms

An international conference highlighting the diverse ways of studying the Psalms will be held on 22–24 September 2010. The conference, associated with the Theology Faculty at the University of Oxford and the Society for Old Testament Study, is convened by Dr Susan Gillingham and Professor John Barton. The location will be at Worcester College, Oxford, with its extensive gardens and fascinating blend of architectural styles. Further details can be obtained from the conference website.

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