Articles & Explorations

“Not Like Cain”: Marking Moral Boundaries through Vilification of the Other in 1 John 3:1–18

James D. Dvorak |

This article explores the heuristic value of a linguistic model of Appraisal that has been informed by the complementary Bakhtinian notions of heteroglossia and dialogism for the interpretation of biblical text. The model is briefly described, which includes a discussion of how heteroglossia and dialogism help to shape the model. Finally, the model is deployed to analyze 1 John 3:1–18.

Who Is Watching the Children? Ethics of Responsibility in Genesis 4:1-16

Charles M. Rix |

The Bible’s first question dealing with fraternal relationships “Am I my brother’s keeper?” raises key questions about relational responsibility: who is “the keeper” of whom and why does it matter? As the notion of being a “keeper” and a “watcher” is elsewhere associated with YHWH in the Hebrew scriptures, the issue arises as to whether or not Cain’s question suggests that in some way YHWH shares responsibility for Abel’s demise. This paper employs Mikhail Bakhtin’s literary theories of dialogism and heteroglossia to illuminate ways in which Cain’s question may be heard and interpreted and the attending ethical implications of each reading.

Perspective Criticism: An Emerging Methodology for Analyzing Biblical Narrative

Gary Yamasaki |

Perspective Criticism is a methodology for uncovering the interpretative significance of point-of-view strategies utilized in biblical narrative material. This article traces its recent emergence from Narrative Criticism, highlighting the intriguing suggestion that point-of-view crafting has the capacity to prompt readers to empathize with particular characters, even negative ones. An overview is provided of narrative devices that impact the point-of-view crafting in biblical stories, and this is followed by a perspective-critical treatment of Genesis 22:1-19, an analysis that results in a new interpretation of this account of God's commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

God of the Exodus: Light from Botticelli's "Venus and Mars"

Chris Rosser |

This essay examines how ancient Israel’s traumatic and polytheistic past left definite scarring upon characterizations of God in Exodus. Drawing on Bernhard Lang’s discussion of “trifunctional theory” of deity as applied to ancient Israel’s polytheistic context, the essay asserts that fractured narratives in Exodus signify a messiness for monotheism: “God” signifies a profoundly complex character (e.g., God is healer yet erupts as destroyer). The essay concludes by arguing that fractured characterizations of God perform similarly to Botticelli’s allegorical depiction of Venus and Mars, balancing three natures of deity. Aesthetic appreciation of God’s complex performance is helpful for making sense of the fractured-ness of both God and text in Exodus.