Dr. Everett Fox Scholar-in-Residence Topics
WHAT FOLLOWS THE TORAH (JOSHUA THROUGH KINGS): HISTORY, FICTION, OR SOMETHING ELSE?
How should we read the Early Prophets: as a factual record of the past or as a made-up story with no basis in archaeological or historical fact? Who wrote this part of the Bible and why? The answers may not be self-evident. But the way we read these books tells us a great deal about who we are.
FINDING CLUES, CRAFTING WORDS: RE-TRANSLATING THE BIBLE
Since the 1970s, I have been publishing a radically different Bible translation that, like its predecessor, the Buber-Rosenzweig translation, seeks to echo the Hebrew text in its use of sound and structure. Starting with The Five Books of Moses in 1995, and now continuing with The Early Prophets, the translation has enabled individuals, study groups, and congregations to become active participants in the ongoing Jewish process of wrestling with the Bible.
Using some familiar biblical stories, I’ll share my own journey through the Hebrew text, and how such an approach can help us reclaim a vital, active relationship to the Bible, allowing us to become front-line interpreters ourselves.
SAMSON AND DELILAH: SEDUCTION AND SENSE IN A BIBLICAL TALE
Samson is one of the most enigmatic characters in the Bible—a holy man who is anything but holy, and a leader who never leads. Using Samson’s final astounding adventures, we will unpack a story full of wrong turns and secrets, to see how it fits in this juncture in the Bible and what it says to us today.
THE BIBLE’S BEST GHOST STORY
The night before King Saul’s last battle, he is desperate to find out God’s plans for his future. We will read his eerie encounter with the dead prophet Samuel, which will tell us much about how the Bible understands both Saul and the realm of the dead. Along the way we will experience a startling modern use of this scene, dating back to the First World War.
If a fifth presentation is wanted during the weekend, either of these alternative teachings can be adapted to another setting, including being shortened into a Shabbat morning pulpit sermon
DAVID AND BATHSHEBA: WHY BIBLICAL CHARACTERS AREN’T PERFECT
The Bible’s greatest pure hero, King David, commits the double crime of adultery and murder in II Samuel 11-12. How does the Bible treat the crime and the punishment? What does it mean for the rest of David’s reign, and for his name in history and tradition? And why doesn’t he lose his throne? We will probe the meaning of the story for ancient audiences and for our world today.
SOLOMON’S GLORIOUS TEMPLE, PAST AND PRESENT
Although virtually nothing remains of the First Temple, modern scholars can tell us a great deal about its structure and its meaning. Using the tools of comparative archaeology, and reading the text of the book of Kings closely, we can get a glimpse of the Temple’s significance for biblical Israel. At the same time, we can examine how its image has persisted through the centuries, inspiring contemporary Jewish and Christian groups as well.
HOW JEWS AND CHRISTIANS READ THE SAME BIBLE THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES
It’s often remarked how Jews and Christians share at least part of the same Bible—the books of the Jewish Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. But the same text does not mean the same message. We will look at some familiar stories—the near-sacrifice of Isaac, Samson’s exploits, and Jonah’s journey—to see how the two communities have understood them quite differently. And we’ll talk about how arranging the books differently has a profound effect on what they are trying to say.
A BIBLE SCHOLAR IN HOLLYWOOD: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A BIBLICAL STORY BECOMES A MOVIE?
What happens when we transfer a well-known biblical story to modern media? We’ll look at selections from two movies, The Prince of Egypt (for which I was a consultant) and Noah, to see how creative decisions affect the original text, and how this process can resemble the making of Midrash, ancient and modern.