Volume 1 – December 2022

Read online, or download the full issue or individual articles as a PDF.

View the title pages here.
"I wonder if the Wright brothers ever looked at their earliest airplane efforts and said, “if everything seems to be in place, why is it so hard to get this off the ground?”

The Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence is a rapidly growing research centre, yet still rather young. Many of us are still newer or emerging scholars. And sometimes wonderful ideas, and wonderful projects, can take far longer and be far more difficult to launch than anyone expected. And yet while this issue has been almost three years in the making (and not the several months that we might have initially hoped!), I have had confidence from almost the start that it was a matter of “when,” and not “if,” this project would come to fruition. From the beginning, we have had a wonderful team of supporters, and especially associate editors, who have approached the task with dedication and enthusiasm."

Continue to read and download the Editor's Preface by Ashley Hibbard here.

"The Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence was founded in 2018, and has now become an international network of scholars, along with some practitioners, who are working in a cluster of related fields. Our purview extends from the interpretation of biblical texts of violence, through to the study of the ways in which Scripture is used to endorse or promote violence. There is considerable overlap of these two fields at the centre of that spectrum."

Continue to read and download an introduction to the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, by Director Helen Paynter here.

In the Presence of Whose Enemies?: A Discourse Analysis of a Popular Christian Song in the Context of a “Worship Protest” by Carolyn Whitnall

ABSTRACT: Contemporary Christian worship music is culturally powerful and theologically formative. The most successful songs achieve international, inter-denominational recognition and are sung and used in a wide variety of (typically explicitly religious) contexts. What they mean, then – and especially, how they mediate scripture – has scope to influence the understanding and beliefs of many individuals and communities within (and outside) the church. However, the malleable nature of lyrics as texts designed for creative performance and re-appropriation is such that they potentially derive much of their meaning from their use-contexts. This study applies the tools of Discourse Analysis to the popular Bethel Music song `Raise a Hallelujah,’ taking into account the context of production, the linguistic features of the text, and song’s performance as part of the Washington DC #LetUsWorship “worship protest” concert – an event held within (and with reference to) the wider contexts of the pending 2020 US Presidential Election and the global Covid-19 pandemic. By centering my analysis around the particular phrase “my enemies,” I demonstrate the song’s potential to draw on and reinforce an oppositional, triumphalist “culture-war” stance towards group outsiders.

KEYWORDS: discourse analysis, theolinguistics, worship music, Psalms, culture wars, Covid-19.

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The Intertextual Violence of God: The Story of Achan and the Story of Ananias and Sapphira (Joshua 7 and Acts 5:1–11) by Stanley N. Helton

ABSTRACT: This article explores the intertextual intersection of the story of the destruction of Achan and his family in Joshua 7 with the narrative about Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. After establishing the clear intertextual link between these stories, the article explores the way in which each text portrays God, finding in them striking similarities, and thus suggesting that Acts’ view of God is not dissimilar from that of the author or final editor of the narrative in Joshua. The methodology employed is close reading of the text in search of clear intertextual links and then theological reflection on the presentation of God and God’s violence in each text. While the author recognizes that these two stories are only a small sampling of the entire biblical corpus, they reveal that the Joshua narrative and the Acts narrative share the same theological and conceptual world regarding their understanding of God.

KEYWORDS: Achan, Ananias and Sapphira, Theology: Views of God, Violence of God, Punishment, Ḥerem, Intertextuality, Joshua, Luke-Acts

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Christ Our Peace: Violence, Shame, and Glory in Early Christian Reception of Ephesians 2:11-22 by Kristin Caynor

ABSTRACT: This article is an interdisciplinary exploration of early Christian interpretations of Eph. 2:11-22, aimed at applying early Christian reflections on violence and peace to the practical concerns of the 21st century. First, it examines recurring themes in early Christian reception of Eph. 2:11-22, which include combatting gnosticism, cosmic reconciliation, the royal glory and honor of Christ, and the diversity of the church. The early Christian connection between glory, peace, Christology, and social realities is read alongside research in sociology and psychology, pointing to the key role that shame plays in cycles of violence—both against oneself and others, and both on the individual and group levels. Finally, the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and trends in U.S. culture are looked at in light of these insights, and reflections are made on how all of this can practically equip any Christian for the work of building peace in divided times.

KEYWORDS: Glory, Christology, Peace, Peacemaking, honor, shame, American culture, evangelicalism, far-right, January 6th, gospel of peace, gnosticism, reconciliation, diversity, Trump

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L. Daniel Hawk. The Violence of the Biblical God: Canonical Narrative and Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019. - Review by Paul Béré, S.I.

Lisa M. Bowens. African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance and Transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019. - Review by Benjamin M. Leighton

Esau McCaulley. Reading While Black: African American biblical interpretation as an exercise in hope. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2020. - Review by Eleasah Phoenix Louis

Andrew Naselli. The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020. - Review by Mark Mallet

Johanna Stiebert. Rape Myths, the Bible, and #MeToo. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2020. - Review by Will Moore

Valerie Hobbs. An Introduction to Religious Language: Exploring Theolinguistics in Contemporary Contexts. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021. - Review by John Reader

Chris Greenough. The Bible and Sexual Violence Against Men. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2020. - Review by Charlotte Thomas

Brad E. Kelle. The Bible and Moral Injury: Reading Scripture Alongside War’s Unseen Wounds. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2020. - Review by Kenneth Wilkinson-Roberts

Read more and download here.