viii + 186 pp.
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An Unsuitable Book
The Bible as Scandalous Text
Hugh S. Pyper
The real 'scandal' of the Bible, suggests Hugh Pyper, lies not in any salaciousness it may contain but in its deep impropriety as a venerable book, and the 'unsuitability' of its reality to the expectations of its readers.
This collection of essays, published and previously unpublished, will delight readers with its wit and profundity. Among them, 'The Selfish Text: Memetics and the Bible' deploys Richard Dawkins's notion of memes to advance the half-teasing, half-serious thesis that western culture is the Bible's way of making more Bibles, 'The Bible in Bloom' examines the usefulness or otherwise of Bloom's concept of the 'anxiety of influence' in biblical studies, and 'The Bible as Wolf: Tracking a Carrollian Metaphor in Biblical Studies', a tribute to Robert Carroll, the author's mentor, uncovers the polyvalence of the wolf metaphor in biblical and literary traditions and calls for the recovery of the 'wild' text.
Other papers are on women and silence (with a nod to Isak Dinesen and to Freud), on the violence in Lamentations as a deflection of anger from God and so a survival strategy for the community, and on modern 'gospels of Judas' which symptomize resentment against the canon.
Hugh S. Pyper is Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield.
Pyper uses a discursive style, a thick dose of Scottishness, wry humor, a generous sprinkling of analogies to literature and postmodern theory, and a steady attention to features of the Bible that are uncanny, off-putting, and problematic in order to make the tour deeply and surprisingly satisfying. The theme that unites the essays is that the strength of the Bible--that is, its durability and ‘inescapability’ (Harold Bloom)--is a result of its conventional ‘unsuitability’.--Gregory Mobley, Catholic Biblical Quarterly.
Scholars of literature, religion and theology as well as biblical scholars … will find this learned, provocative and often witty and entertaining book anything but a scandal.--Eric Ziolkowski, Literature and Theology.