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Interfaces: Ahab

The Construction of a King

Jerome T. Walsh

Ahab, king of Israel during the ninth century B.C.E., "did evil in the sight of the Lord more than of his predecessors" and "did more to anger the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the kings of Israel before him" (1 Kings 16:30, 33). With this less-than-flattering introduction, modern readers meet Ahab. And that first impression is only underscored in the remaining biblical account of the notorious king’s reign. In Ahab: The Construction of a King, Walsh sheds new, if not always more positive, light on this character. He begins by pointing out that the historical Ahab, insofar as we can retrieve him, seems to have been a stabilizing and successful political leader. Walsh then uses narrative criticism to examine more closely how the biblical text paints its generally negative portrait of Ahab. Finally, Walsh uses source and redaction criticism to trace how the king’s positive image might have been transformed into the negative one we encounter in the text. In the end, Walsh leads readers to a greater appreciation for both the richness of the biblical text and the complexity of the truths contained therein. Jerome T. Walsh, SSL, PhD, is editor of the series Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry. He is author of 1 Kings in that series (Liturgical Press, 1996). More recently Walsh authored Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative (Liturgical Press, 2001). He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, and currently holds the Tschoepe Chair of Homiletics in the Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies of the University of Dallas.

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Interfaces: John the Baptist

Prophet of Purity for a New Age

Catherine M. Murphy

How did Gospel authors Matthew and Luke shape the story of John the Baptist around the story of Jesus? Why was the historical Baptist so popular? In John the Baptist: Prophet of Purity for a New Age, Catherine Murphy explores the character of John the Baptist and compares what the foundational Gospels yield: not only the perspectives of the synoptic authors, but also a sketch of the historical figure of John the Baptist, which is then placed within the religious, political and economic context of first-century C.E. Judea. Special attention is given to the interface between John and the Qumran community, which scholars have proposed ever since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Chapters are "Will the Real Baptist Please Stand Up?" “Redaction Criticism: How and Why Authors Shape Their Stories,” “Baptist Vignettes in the Gospels: A Redaction-Critical Approach,” “Another Angle on the Baptist Movement: Social-Scientific Criticism,” “Purification Movements in the First-Century C.E. Judea,” and “Conclusion.” Receive From Earth's Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. Catherine M. Murphy, PhD, is assistant professor in the department of religious studies at Santa Clara University. She has co-published three editions of Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts, and has written journal articles on the Scrolls and the New Testament.

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Interfaces: Jezebel

Portraits of a Queen

Patricia Dutcher-Walls

Powerful. Assertive. Evil. What we know of Jezebel, queen of Israel, seems pure malevolence. What we know is what ancient writers, in their attempt to shape a theological history, considered important. More than just an intriguing story, Jezebel: Portraits of a Queen provides insight into a character used (and portrayed) by biblical writers as a negative example. Two portraits of Jezebel are created: that of Jezebel the story character, taken from narrative criticism, and Jezebel the queen, drawn from a sociological study. From two combined portraits, the reader can begin to understand the ancient writers' worldviews, theologies, values, and loyalties. Jezebel’s story gives readers a new perspective with which they may approach all biblical texts. The focuses on social organization and monarchy will help students study the text within a framework of biblical society. Chapters are "Method Overview: Narrative Method with a Focus on Rhetoric," “Narrative Method Applied: A Portrait of a Character,” “Method Overview: Sociological Criticism with a Focus on Ancient Monarchy,” “Sociological Method Applied: A Portrait of a Queen” and “The Methods Interfaced: The Portraits of Compared.” Receive From Earth’s Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. The Reverend Dr. Patricia Dutcher-Walls, PhD, is Associate Professor of Hebrew Scripture and Old Testament at Knox College, at the University of Toronto, as well as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

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Interfaces: Inquiring of Joseph

Getting to Know a Biblical Character through the Qur'an

John Kaltner

The account of Joseph that is found in Genesis 37-50 is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Its classic rags-to-riches plot explores themes that have intrigued people throughout history: murder, betrayal, sibling rivalry, greed, natural disaster, and mistaken identity. In Inquiring of Joseph, John Kaltner shows there are two ways to tell this story, and both are worth reading. Inquiring of Joseph puts the biblical Joseph in conversation with his Qur'anic self. The Islamic text is a clear parallel to the biblical story in the events of Joseph’s life, but there are some important differences between them that result in two distinct versions of the tale. This interface allows for a new understanding of the familiar biblical tradition as aspects that are often missed become more prominent and puzzling elements are seen in a new light. Chapters are "Introduction," “Beginnings: Joseph and his Family (Genesis 37; Qur’an 12:1-20 ),” “The Narrators and Characters: Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (Genesis 39:1-20; Qur’an 12:21-34;),” “Events: Joseph and the Prisoners (Genesis 39:21-40:23; Qur’an 12:35-42),” “Repetition: Joseph and Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1-45; Qur’an 12:43-57),” “Gaps: Joseph and His Brother (Genesis 42:1-44:17; Qur’an 12:58-86),” and “Endings: Joseph and His Family (Genesis 44:18-50:21; Qur’an 12:87-101).” Receive From Earth’s Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. John Kaltner, PhD, is associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Ishmael Instructs Isaac: An Introduction to the Qur’an for Bible Readers of the Connections series published by the Liturgical Press.

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Interfaces: My Name is Legion

The Story and Soul of the Gerasene Demoniac

Michael Willett Newheart

Can a "legion" of demons convey a message? As Michael Willett Newheart asserts, a study of the Gerasene (Mark 5:1-20) and the demons Jesus cast from him can indeed carry an important message of faith. Although the Gerasene may have suffered from mental illness, he (like other minor characters with major significance) exercised faith in a way the disciples did not. Newheart interfaces narrative and psychological criticism with historical perspectives, cultural examination, and poetic reflection to create the first book-length treatment of the Gerasene demoniac. Chapter One, “The Gerasene's Story: Literary Criticism,” focuses on the narrative analysis, and discusses the story through the angle of Jesus as teacher, healer, and Gerasene the healed follower. Chapter Two, “The Gerasene’s Soul: Psychological Criticism,” brings to light the psychoanalytic perspective of Mark 5:1-20. Ideal for students of the Bible, Gerasene’s story demonstrates faith in a way that may help readers vicariously experience relief from their maladies. Michael Willett Newheart, PhD, is associate professor of New Testament language and literature at the Howard University School of Divinity. He is the author of Word and Soul, published by Liturgical Press.

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Jesus Ben Sira of Jerusalem

A Biblical Guide to Living Wisely

Daniel J. Harrington, SJ

Questions of vocation and character formation become important to students as they continue to receive higher education. Jesus Ben Sira combines secular wisdom from Near Eastern wisdom sources and divine revelations from the Hebrew Bible to create the Book of Sirach. By applying form criticism to Ben Sira’s book, Daniel J. Harrington provides students with historical information of the psychological and sociological context underlying Ben Sira’s teachings, as well as an understanding of how Ben Sira’s ancient wisdom can contribute to personal and social formation in the 21st century. Chapters include Ben Sira and His Book, Ben Sira and Other Wisdom Books, Reading Ben Sira’s Book, Ben Sira’s Ways of Teaching, Ben Sira’s Social World, Ben Sira’s Abiding Wisdom, as well as references, suggestions for further study, and an index. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., Ph.D., is a professor of New Testament at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has written numerous scholarly works, including Paul on the Mystery of Israel, The Gospel of Matthew, and The Gospel According to Matthew published by the Liturgical Press. This book is part of the series Interfaces.

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Interfaces: Nameless, Blameless, and Without Shame

Two Cannibal Mothers Before a King

Gina Hens-Piazza

Nameless, Blameless, and Without Shame is a character study of two obscure women before a king (2 Kings 6:24–33). It explores the violence encoded in the texts by the privileged powerful. The character study connects these cannibal mothers to portraits of other pairs of biblical mothers and their plight—the two mothers before Solomon, Sarah and Hagar, Rachel and Leah. This prompts us to search for counter-stories in the biblical tradition and in our own lives opposing the violence embedded there. The text and the tradition of interpretation would urge us to disregard, scorn, or even indict these two women and all they represent. However, the character analysis emerging out of this literary assessment argues in favor of elevating these nameless mothers as blameless. Chapters are "Building Character," “A Story Within Stories,” “Literary Criticism and the Tale of Two Cannibal Mothers,” “A Postmodern Literary Study of Two Cannibal Mothers Before a King,” “Stories Speak of Other Stories,” and “Character, Counter Texts, and Conclusion.” Receive From Earth's Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. Gina Hens-Piazza, PhD, is an associate professor of biblical studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She has written and lectured extensively on topics of literary studies, women, and social justice in relation to biblical texts.

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Jeremiah

Preacher of Grace, Poet of Truth

Carol J. Dempsey, O.P.

What does it mean to be deeply in love with God and, at the same time, with a person, a group, or a nation that is at odds with God? Such is the dilemma of the prophet Jeremiah, and it is an experience not unfamiliar to many in our own day. The lesson of Jeremiah’s story is that, no matter how unfaithful humans may be, God remains always faithful, always ready to forgive and to right the wrongs humans have wrought. Using the tools of rhetorical and narrative criticism, Carol Dempsey develops the character Jeremiah as a literary figure, a messenger not only to his own people but to all readers of his book. In keeping with the purposes of the Interfaces series, she helps us sharpen our critical skills by examining the text’s presentation of a biblical character not in isolation but interacting, interfacing, with others in his milieu and, implicitly, in ours. Jeremiah is both prophet and poet, as Dempsey shows. She examines the prophet as both gifted and burdened by his mission and the word given to him, a word personal to himself and repugnant to his audience. Ultimately, it is Jeremiah’s relationship with God, in its depth and its tension, that shapes his character—and that of his audience as well. In the end, Jeremiah’s struggles move him from pathos to trust, from imprisonment to freedom, from desperation to conviction, leaving him and his readers with a sense of wonder at the mystery of God. Carol J. Dempsey, OP, PhD, is Associate Professor of Theology (Biblical Studies) with particular expertise in Old Testament and Prophets at the University of Portland, OR.

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Four Times Peter

Portrayals of Peter in the Four Gospels and at Philippi

Richard J. Cassidy

Because he plays such a prominent role in the New Testament and the tradition of the church, the apostle Peter has been the focus of much scholarship over the centuries. One wonders whether there can be anything more to say about Peter. Indeed, there is. In Four Times Peter Richard Cassidy takes a narrative critical look at Peter in the story of each gospel individually (rather than studying Peter via a side-by-side analysis of the gospels). Cassidy looks first to the character of Jesus in each of the gospels and then to the group of apostles as a whole before turning to Peter. In the end, Four Times Peter allows an intriguing portrait of this apostle to emerge. Readers discover a portrait of Peter that would have been familiar to the earliest Christian communities. And it is this ancient portrait that gives modern readers a refreshing new sense of Peter. Richard J. Cassidy, STL, PhD, is Professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan. This book is part of the series Interfaces.

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Interfaces: Pontius Pilate

Portraits of a Roman Governor

Warren Carter

Pontius Pilate examines the portraits of this Roman governor found in the Gospels. Unlike some discussions of Pilate, this one takes Pilate's role as governor and representative of Roman imperial power seriously. It views Pilate predominantly as a strong, efficient, and astute governor, not as a weak and indecisive man, pressured into killing Jesus against Pilate’s convictions. The conclusion considers some of the ethical and theological issues the scenes involving Pilate raise for contemporary readers. Chapters are "Would the Real Pilate Please Stand Up?" “Reading the Gospel Accounts of Pilate,” “Governors and the Roman Imperial System,” “Mark’s Pilate,” “Matthew’s Pilate,” “Luke’s Pilate,” and “John’s Pilate.” Receive From Earth’s Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. Warren Carter, Ph.D., is professor of New Testament at Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri. He has published numerous scholarly and ecclesial publications.

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Interfaces: James Of Jerusalem

Heir to Jesus of Nazareth

Patrick J. Hartin

Through the world of James of Jerusalem we discover the development of Christianity and its struggle for self-definition amidst Jewish roots and a rising congregation of newly converted Gentiles. In this time of early Christianity, James' presence testified to the church’s diversity and he influenced Christianity beyond the literature of the New Testament. Patrick J. Hartin studies the character of James in his various life-roles: as a member of Jesus’ family, as a leader and spokesperson of Jerusalem, and as an important figure in early Christian writing, including that of Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles. The use of historical critical method illustrates for students the growth of traditions and the sources behind the texts. Chapters are "Jesus, James and his family," “James as leader of the Jerusalem Community,” “James and Paul,” “James in Tradition,” and conclusion. Receive From Earth’s Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. Fr. Patrick J. Hartin, Ph.D., is a priest of the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, where he is also a professor of New Testament at Gonzaga University. He is the author of A Spirituality of Perfection, published by Liturgical Press.

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Interfaces: King Saul's Asking

Barbara Green, OP

Who should lead us? Who should we, as a community, look to for guidance? These questions, as old as humankind, followed the Israelite community upon their return from the Exile: Should they return with Davidic kingship or without it? Their answer was King Saul. Reading Israel's first king as a riddle or the epitome of Israel’s experience with kingship, King Saul’s Asking explores the characterization of the figure Saul, the question of the apparent silence of God, the multiple complexities of responsibility for kingship, and the readers’ opportunities for transformation. It provides a new approach to the Old Testament, supplying the reader with not only an in-depth character study but also an interesting, insightful read, and opportunity for transformation. Chapters are "Asking a Child (1 Samuel 1-3)," “Seeking a Refuge (1 Samuel 4-7),” “Request for a King (1 Samuel 8-12),” “Obedience Wanted, Wanting (1 Samuel 13-15),” “Suspecting the Dreaded (1 Samuel 16-19),” “Futile Searching (1 Samuel 20-23),” “Sensing the Silent (1 Samuel 24-26),” and “Final Questions.” Receive From Earth’s Creation to John’s Revelation FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. Barbara Green, OP, PhD, is a professor of biblical studies and a member of the core doctoral faculty at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. Editor of the Interfaces series, she also wrote Like a Tree Planted, published by Liturgical Press.

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Interfaces: From Earth's Creation to John's Revelation

The Interfaces Biblical Storyline Companion

Barbara Green, OP, Carleen Mandolfo, Catherine M. Murphy

As an introductory text and companion for the Interfaces series, From Earth's Creation to John’s Revelation gives an overview of the basic material necessary for an introductory undergraduate course in Old or New Testament. It helps readers locate the biblical characters within the biblical timeline and introduces the characters in ways that students of the Bible will find informative and vital. It is organized chronologically and includes maps for further study. Chapters are "Origins Stories (Set Pre-1000 B.C.E.)," “(Re-)Settlement in the Land (Set Pre-1000 B.C.E.),” “The Monarchic Period (Just Pre-1000–587 B.C.E.),” “Exile: Exilic-Diaspora Setting (Sixth Century B.C.E.),” “Post-Exilic Early Second Temple Persian Judah: Persian Period (Sixth–Fourth Centuries B.C.E.),” “Late Second-Temple Judaism: Hellenistic Period (Second–First Centuries B.C.E.),” “Intertestamental Period (The First Centuries B.C.E. and C.E.),” “New Testament Period (Mid-First Century C.E.),” “New Testament Period (Late First Century C.E.)” Receive this title FREE with the purchase of two or more Interfaces volumes. Mention this offer in the comment section of the order form when placing your order or call 1.800.858.5450. Barbara Green, OP, PhD, Interfaces editor, is a professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Carleen Mandolfo is assistant professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. Catherine M. Murphy is assistant professor at Santa Clara University in California.

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Jonah's Journey

Barbara Green, O.P.

The book of Jonah has been richly commented upon by centuries of Christians and Jews. Writers of prose and poetry have loved it as well as those interested in liturgy. Jonah is a small book, and yet it is placed with issues that have shown themselves existentially powerful over time and among readers of many types and cultures. In essence, Jonah’s journey’s among interpreters have had a great deal of territory to explore. In Jonah’s Journey’s, Barbara Green, O.P., focuses on the character Jonah and explores the variety of ways in which the prophet and the book have been represented and understood by various interpreters. The question of how readers construct meaning is central to the text. Barbara Green, O.P., Ph.D., is professor of Biblical Studies at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is editor of the Interfaces series published by Liturgical Press and author of several books within the series including: King Saul’s Asking and From Earth’s Creation to John’s Revelation: The Interfaces Biblical Storyline Companion.

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Dining with Pharisees

J. Patrick Mullen

Were the Pharisees unfairly portrayed in the New Testament? What would a wider reading of Luke's Gospel reveal? To begin dialoguing with these questions, J. Patrick Mullen focuses on Simon, the Pharisee of Luke 7:36-50, to study and "redeem" the Pharisees of early Judaism. With two methodologies, redactional and anthropological, Mullen discusses these questions and analyzes the Pharisaic movement and first-century Judaism by placing the issues within cultural context. Other topics that arise are the fractures between the Christian and Jewish communities, the development of tradition, and the issues of comparing the various Gospels, especially Luke and Mark. To arrive at a unified reading of Luke, Mullen studies how Luke combines various sources to create a thematic focus and uniquely Lukan portrayal of Jesus. Posing and resolving questions, Dining with Pharisees will help bring readers and students to a deeper understanding of the early Jewish and Christian faith communities. J. Patrick Mullen, PhD, is assistant professor of biblical studies, New Testament, and associate director of pastoral formation/field education at St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California. This book is part of the series Interfaces.

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