22 July 2012

Seeing the biblical text anew

This week the International Society of Biblical Literature is happening here in Amsterdam, and I am surrounded by biblical scholars and interacting with the biblical text. And it is delightful - not simply because I know some really great biblical scholars, but also because I love being given the opportunity to see the text anew.

One example for seeing the text anew is the example of a Jewish photographer who took pictures of people today and connected them to the biblical story. Ruth and Noami are depicted as picking up the vegetables discarded from a market - picking up the garbage left behind on market day. The speaker (Athalya Brenner) raised the possibility that many of us have a rather overromanticized view of Ruth gleaning the fields - and this picking up garbage challenges that.

A link to the photos themselves, can be found here: http://www.adines.com/content/wexner_center_for_the_arts_brochure.htm

Or what about the spies in Joshua 2 who stay overnight at a prostitute? Someone asked me tonight why they stayed there. I found it a strange question - and then, I thought, wait a minute, I live in the Red Light District - what is the only reason I know that men sleep over by a prostitute!?! So how does one reconcile that with the biblical text (and why did that connection never occur to me before)? The Bible never suggests anything happens with Rahab, but it also doesn't deny anything either.

Simply reading well and asking questions raises new dimensions in the text. It's amazing to be able to work on a text where one can continue to learn so much about it and see new things even after years of study!

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