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The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics

Published: Apr 2015
£25.00£60.00
Did Jesus ever do anything wrong? Judging by the vast majority of books on New Testament ethics, the answer is a resounding No. Writers on New Testament ethics generally view Jesus as the paradigm of human standards and behaviour. But since the historical Jesus was a human being, must he not have had flaws, like everyone else? The notion of a flawless human Jesus is a paradoxical oddity in New Testament ethics. According to Avalos, it shows that New Testament ethics is still primarily an apologetic enterprise despite its claim to rest on critical and historical scholarship. The Bad Jesus is a powerful and challenging study, presenting detailed case studies of fundamental ethical principles enunciated or practised by Jesus but antithetical to what would be widely deemed 'acceptable' or 'good' today. Such topics include Jesus' supposedly innovative teachings on love, along with his views on hate, violence, imperialism, animal rights, environmental ethics, Judaism, women, disabled persons and biblical hermeneutics. After closely examining arguments offered by those unwilling to find any fault with the Jesus depicted in the Gospels, Avalos concludes that current treatments of New Testament ethics are permeated by a religiocentric, ethnocentric and imperialistic orientation. But if it is to be a credible historical and critical discipline in modern academia, New Testament ethics needs to discover both a Good and a Bad Jesus.
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The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics

£25.00£60.00
Did Jesus ever do anything wrong? Judging by the vast majority of books on New Testament ethics, the answer is a resounding No. Writers on New Testament ethics generally view Jesus as the paradigm of human standards and behaviour. But since the historical Jesus was a human being, must he not have had flaws, like everyone else? The notion of a flawless human Jesus is a paradoxical oddity in New Testament ethics. According to Avalos, it shows that New Testament ethics is still primarily an apologetic enterprise despite its claim to rest on critical and historical scholarship. The Bad Jesus is a powerful and challenging study, presenting detailed case studies of fundamental ethical principles enunciated or practised by Jesus but antithetical to what would be widely deemed 'acceptable' or 'good' today. Such topics include Jesus' supposedly innovative teachings on love, along with his views on hate, violence, imperialism, animal rights, environmental ethics, Judaism, women, disabled persons and biblical hermeneutics. After closely examining arguments offered by those unwilling to find any fault with the Jesus depicted in the Gospels, Avalos concludes that current treatments of New Testament ethics are permeated by a religiocentric, ethnocentric and imperialistic orientation. But if it is to be a credible historical and critical discipline in modern academia, New Testament ethics needs to discover both a Good and a Bad Jesus.
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Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship

Published: May 2013
£19.50£70.00
In this immensely wide-ranging and fascinating study, Avalos critiques the common claim that the abolition of slavery was due in large part to the influence of biblical ethics. Such a claim, he argues, is characteristic of a broader phenomenon in biblical scholarship, which focuses on defending, rather than describing, the ethical norms encountered in biblical texts. The first part of Avalos's critique explores how modern scholars have praised the supposed superiority of biblical ethics at the cost of diminishing or ignoring many similar features in ancient Near Eastern cultures. These features include manumission, fixed terms of service, familial rights, and egalitarian critiques of slavery. At the same time, modern scholarship has used the standard tools of biblical exegesis in order to minimize the ethically negative implications of many biblical references to slavery. The second part of the book concentrates on how the Bible has been used throughout Christian history both to maintain and to extend slavery. In particular, Avalos offers detailed studies of papal documents used to defend the Church's stance on slavery. Discussions of Gregory of Nyssa, Aquinas and Luther, among others, show that they are not such champions of freedom as they are often portrayed. Avalos's close readings of the writings of major abolitionists such as Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and Frederick Douglass show an increasing shift away from using the Bible as a support for abolitionism. Biblical scholars have rarely recognized that pro-slavery advocates could use the Bible just as effectively. According to Avalos, one of the complex mix of factors leading to abolition was the abandonment of the Bible as an ethical authority. The case of the biblical attitude to slavery is just one confirmation of how unsuitable the Bible is as a manual of ethics in the modern world.
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Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship

£19.50£70.00
In this immensely wide-ranging and fascinating study, Avalos critiques the common claim that the abolition of slavery was due in large part to the influence of biblical ethics. Such a claim, he argues, is characteristic of a broader phenomenon in biblical scholarship, which focuses on defending, rather than describing, the ethical norms encountered in biblical texts. The first part of Avalos's critique explores how modern scholars have praised the supposed superiority of biblical ethics at the cost of diminishing or ignoring many similar features in ancient Near Eastern cultures. These features include manumission, fixed terms of service, familial rights, and egalitarian critiques of slavery. At the same time, modern scholarship has used the standard tools of biblical exegesis in order to minimize the ethically negative implications of many biblical references to slavery. The second part of the book concentrates on how the Bible has been used throughout Christian history both to maintain and to extend slavery. In particular, Avalos offers detailed studies of papal documents used to defend the Church's stance on slavery. Discussions of Gregory of Nyssa, Aquinas and Luther, among others, show that they are not such champions of freedom as they are often portrayed. Avalos's close readings of the writings of major abolitionists such as Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and Frederick Douglass show an increasing shift away from using the Bible as a support for abolitionism. Biblical scholars have rarely recognized that pro-slavery advocates could use the Bible just as effectively. According to Avalos, one of the complex mix of factors leading to abolition was the abandonment of the Bible as an ethical authority. The case of the biblical attitude to slavery is just one confirmation of how unsuitable the Bible is as a manual of ethics in the modern world.
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Son of Man: An African Jesus Film

Published: Apr 2013
£50.00
The remarkable, award-winning film, Son of Man (2005), directed by the South African Mark Dornford-May, sets the Jesus story in a contemporary, fictional southern African Judea. While news broadcasts display the political struggles and troubles of this postcolonial country, moments of magical realism point to supernatural battles between Satan and Jesus as well. Jesus' Judean struggle with Satan begins with a haunting reprise of Matthew's 'slaughter of the innocents' and moves forward in a Steve Biko-like non-violent, community-building ministry, captured in graffiti and in the video footage that Judas takes to incriminate Jesus. Satan and the powers seemingly triumph when Jesus 'disappears', but then Mary creates a community that challenges such injustice by displaying her son's dead body upon a hillside cross. The film ends with shots of Jesus among the angels and everyday life in Khayelitsha (the primary shooting location), auguring hope of a new humanity (Genesis 1.26). This book's essays situate Son of Man in its African context, exploring the film's incorporation of local customs, music, rituals, and events as it constructs an imperial and postcolonial 'world'. The film is to be seen as an expression of postcolonial agency, as a call to constructive political action, as an interpretation of the Gospels, and as a reconfiguration of the Jesus film tradition. Finally, the essays call attention to their interested, ideological interpretations by using Son of Man to raise contemporary ethical, hermeneutical, and theological questions. As the film itself concisely asks on behalf of the children featured in it and their politically active mothers, 'Whose world is this'?
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Son of Man: An African Jesus Film

£50.00
The remarkable, award-winning film, Son of Man (2005), directed by the South African Mark Dornford-May, sets the Jesus story in a contemporary, fictional southern African Judea. While news broadcasts display the political struggles and troubles of this postcolonial country, moments of magical realism point to supernatural battles between Satan and Jesus as well. Jesus' Judean struggle with Satan begins with a haunting reprise of Matthew's 'slaughter of the innocents' and moves forward in a Steve Biko-like non-violent, community-building ministry, captured in graffiti and in the video footage that Judas takes to incriminate Jesus. Satan and the powers seemingly triumph when Jesus 'disappears', but then Mary creates a community that challenges such injustice by displaying her son's dead body upon a hillside cross. The film ends with shots of Jesus among the angels and everyday life in Khayelitsha (the primary shooting location), auguring hope of a new humanity (Genesis 1.26). This book's essays situate Son of Man in its African context, exploring the film's incorporation of local customs, music, rituals, and events as it constructs an imperial and postcolonial 'world'. The film is to be seen as an expression of postcolonial agency, as a call to constructive political action, as an interpretation of the Gospels, and as a reconfiguration of the Jesus film tradition. Finally, the essays call attention to their interested, ideological interpretations by using Son of Man to raise contemporary ethical, hermeneutical, and theological questions. As the film itself concisely asks on behalf of the children featured in it and their politically active mothers, 'Whose world is this'?
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Constructing the Other in Ancient Israel and the USA

Published: Mar 2011
£70.00
Always spoken for, never speaking. Always the object of discourse, never the subject. Constant focus upon Israel in the biblical texts by the interpretative tradition in the modern context has resulted, whether consciously or not, in the eclipse of voices of Israel's Palestinian neighbors. Interpretations reinforce the liminality of ethnic groups like the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Samaritans effected initially through re-presentation. Stereotyping becomes an ethno-typing strategy that establishes the presumed superiority of 'Israel', the identity construction of the 'others' as anything but superior, and the placement of each group stereotyped on the 'border'. A postcolonial perspective, however, reveals that the focus of the commentary tradition extends liminality beyond the temporal. This study brings to speech the constructed voices of marginalized ethnic groups by juxtaposing those of fifth-century Yehud with those of nineteenth-century America placed there by stereotypic re-presentations. The examination of these re-presentations, though they intend to establish separation through an identity of difference, reveal instead a reflection of the identity of 'self' within 'other' despite efforts by an ethnic group identifying itself as 'Israel'.
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Constructing the Other in Ancient Israel and the USA

£70.00
Always spoken for, never speaking. Always the object of discourse, never the subject. Constant focus upon Israel in the biblical texts by the interpretative tradition in the modern context has resulted, whether consciously or not, in the eclipse of voices of Israel's Palestinian neighbors. Interpretations reinforce the liminality of ethnic groups like the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Samaritans effected initially through re-presentation. Stereotyping becomes an ethno-typing strategy that establishes the presumed superiority of 'Israel', the identity construction of the 'others' as anything but superior, and the placement of each group stereotyped on the 'border'. A postcolonial perspective, however, reveals that the focus of the commentary tradition extends liminality beyond the temporal. This study brings to speech the constructed voices of marginalized ethnic groups by juxtaposing those of fifth-century Yehud with those of nineteenth-century America placed there by stereotypic re-presentations. The examination of these re-presentations, though they intend to establish separation through an identity of difference, reveal instead a reflection of the identity of 'self' within 'other' despite efforts by an ethnic group identifying itself as 'Israel'.
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Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tides of Empire

Published: Oct 2009
£17.50£39.50
For centuries, the Bible has been used by colonial powers to undergird their imperial designs--an ironic situation when so much of the Bible was conceived by way of resistance to empires. In this thoughtful book, Mark Brett draws upon his experience of the colonial heritage in Australia to identify a remarkable range of areas where God needs to be decolonized--freed from the bonds of the colonial. Writing in a context where landmark legal cases have ruled that Indigenous (Aboriginal) rights have been 'washed away by the tide of history', Brett re-examines land rights in the biblical traditions, Deuteronomy's genocidal imagination, and other key topics in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament where the effects of colonialism can be traced. Drawing out the implications for theology and ethics, this book provides a comprehensive new proposal for addressing the legacies of colonialism.
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Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tides of Empire

£17.50£39.50
For centuries, the Bible has been used by colonial powers to undergird their imperial designs--an ironic situation when so much of the Bible was conceived by way of resistance to empires. In this thoughtful book, Mark Brett draws upon his experience of the colonial heritage in Australia to identify a remarkable range of areas where God needs to be decolonized--freed from the bonds of the colonial. Writing in a context where landmark legal cases have ruled that Indigenous (Aboriginal) rights have been 'washed away by the tide of history', Brett re-examines land rights in the biblical traditions, Deuteronomy's genocidal imagination, and other key topics in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament where the effects of colonialism can be traced. Drawing out the implications for theology and ethics, this book provides a comprehensive new proposal for addressing the legacies of colonialism.
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Incarnate Word, Inscribed Flesh: John’s Prologue and the Postmodern

Published: Aug 2007
£50.00
The pre-existent, transcendent Logos, the principal character in the prologue of John's Gospel, is a prime example of a unified and centred concept, such as denounced as illusory by deconstruction. In this ground-breaking study, Nutu offers an unremittingly postmodern scrutiny of the Logos as the incarnate word that becomes visible as it is inscribed in human flesh. Within view also is the reverse process, of becoming 'children of God', which signifies human beings willingly accepting God's word, his tattoo, upon their flesh in order to pertain to the realm of the Logos. A second strand of this book is Nutu's tracing the fragmented afterlives of John's Prologue and their different effects on the formation of subjects (with a particular focus on homo religiosus and feminine 'I's) through postmodern film. At the dawn of a new millennium, films continue to play an important role in the cultural development of society; even moving away from the self-confessed biblical films, new productions like The Pillow Book, The Fifth Element and The Matrix (all engaged here) mediate elements of biblical narrative, theology, allegory, ethics and identity. As the Bible continues its influence on society and the formation of subject positions, biblical texts are re-interpreted, recycled within many discourses. This is a study that skilfully interweaves a number of contemporary theoretical currents such as deconstruction, psychoanalytical criticism, gender and cultural studies and initiates a new approach to interpretation, namely postcommunist, influenced by the writer's own experience of growing up in Romania.
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Incarnate Word, Inscribed Flesh: John’s Prologue and the Postmodern

£50.00
The pre-existent, transcendent Logos, the principal character in the prologue of John's Gospel, is a prime example of a unified and centred concept, such as denounced as illusory by deconstruction. In this ground-breaking study, Nutu offers an unremittingly postmodern scrutiny of the Logos as the incarnate word that becomes visible as it is inscribed in human flesh. Within view also is the reverse process, of becoming 'children of God', which signifies human beings willingly accepting God's word, his tattoo, upon their flesh in order to pertain to the realm of the Logos. A second strand of this book is Nutu's tracing the fragmented afterlives of John's Prologue and their different effects on the formation of subjects (with a particular focus on homo religiosus and feminine 'I's) through postmodern film. At the dawn of a new millennium, films continue to play an important role in the cultural development of society; even moving away from the self-confessed biblical films, new productions like The Pillow Book, The Fifth Element and The Matrix (all engaged here) mediate elements of biblical narrative, theology, allegory, ethics and identity. As the Bible continues its influence on society and the formation of subject positions, biblical texts are re-interpreted, recycled within many discourses. This is a study that skilfully interweaves a number of contemporary theoretical currents such as deconstruction, psychoanalytical criticism, gender and cultural studies and initiates a new approach to interpretation, namely postcommunist, influenced by the writer's own experience of growing up in Romania.
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Wrestling with Textual Violence: The Jephthah Narrative in Antiquity and Modernity

Published: Oct 2006
£50.00
A story of a judge who sacrifices his virgin daughter is of course an issue both in ethics and in gender studies. Such is the biblical narrative of Jephthah. Sjöberg undertakes a comparative analysis of six different versions of the Jephthah narrative: the biblical tale in the book of Judges, the Jewish telling in Pseudo-Philo's Liber antiquitatum biblicarum (first century CE), Josephus's report in his Jewish Antiquities (also first century CE), Handel's oratorio Jephtha (1751), the British author E.L. Grant Watson's novel A Mighty Man of Valour (1939), set in Australia, and the short story by the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, 'Upon This Evil Earth' (1981). Five main interpretative strategies are uncovered in this remarkable analysis: condemnation, identification, glorification, alienation and censure. Each strategy affects in different ways the reader's assessment of power relations in the story and the reader's own willingness to change. In a final move, Sjöberg embarks on a critical discussion of the programmes of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Daniel Patte for an ethics of biblical interpretation. Sjšberg advocates an interpretative pluralism, arguing that biblical studies should stand in the service of the general public.
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Wrestling with Textual Violence: The Jephthah Narrative in Antiquity and Modernity

£50.00
A story of a judge who sacrifices his virgin daughter is of course an issue both in ethics and in gender studies. Such is the biblical narrative of Jephthah. Sjöberg undertakes a comparative analysis of six different versions of the Jephthah narrative: the biblical tale in the book of Judges, the Jewish telling in Pseudo-Philo's Liber antiquitatum biblicarum (first century CE), Josephus's report in his Jewish Antiquities (also first century CE), Handel's oratorio Jephtha (1751), the British author E.L. Grant Watson's novel A Mighty Man of Valour (1939), set in Australia, and the short story by the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, 'Upon This Evil Earth' (1981). Five main interpretative strategies are uncovered in this remarkable analysis: condemnation, identification, glorification, alienation and censure. Each strategy affects in different ways the reader's assessment of power relations in the story and the reader's own willingness to change. In a final move, Sjöberg embarks on a critical discussion of the programmes of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Daniel Patte for an ethics of biblical interpretation. Sjšberg advocates an interpretative pluralism, arguing that biblical studies should stand in the service of the general public.
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Acts and Ethics

Published: Dec 2005
£50.00
This volume, the fruit of the sessions on the Book of Acts at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, in San Antonio, Texas, in November 2004, contains these papers: Stanley E. Porter, 'The Genre of Acts and the Ethics of Discourse' Robert L. Brawley, 'Social Identity and the Aim of Accomplished Life in Acts 2' F. Scott Spencer, 'Wise Up, Young Man: The Moral Vision of Saul and Other "Neaniskoi" in Acts' Thomas E. Phillips, 'Paul as a Role Model in Acts: The "We"-Passages in Acts 16 and Beyond' Richard P. Thompson, "What Do You Think You Are Doing, Paul?" Synagogues, Accusations, and Ethics in Paul's Ministry in Acts 16-21' Matthew L. Skinner, 'Unchained Ministry: Paul's Roman Custody (Acts 21 —28) and the Sociopolitical Outlook of the Book of Acts' C. Kavin Rowe, 'Authority and Community: Lukan Dominium in Acts' Robert C. Tannehill, 'Do the Ethics of Acts Include the Ethical Teaching in Luke?' Pamela Hedrick, 'The Good Samaritan, Cornelius, and the Just Use of Force'
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Acts and Ethics

£50.00
This volume, the fruit of the sessions on the Book of Acts at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, in San Antonio, Texas, in November 2004, contains these papers: Stanley E. Porter, 'The Genre of Acts and the Ethics of Discourse' Robert L. Brawley, 'Social Identity and the Aim of Accomplished Life in Acts 2' F. Scott Spencer, 'Wise Up, Young Man: The Moral Vision of Saul and Other "Neaniskoi" in Acts' Thomas E. Phillips, 'Paul as a Role Model in Acts: The "We"-Passages in Acts 16 and Beyond' Richard P. Thompson, "What Do You Think You Are Doing, Paul?" Synagogues, Accusations, and Ethics in Paul's Ministry in Acts 16-21' Matthew L. Skinner, 'Unchained Ministry: Paul's Roman Custody (Acts 21 —28) and the Sociopolitical Outlook of the Book of Acts' C. Kavin Rowe, 'Authority and Community: Lukan Dominium in Acts' Robert C. Tannehill, 'Do the Ethics of Acts Include the Ethical Teaching in Luke?' Pamela Hedrick, 'The Good Samaritan, Cornelius, and the Just Use of Force'
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