The Bible in the Public Square: Reading the Signs of the Times

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The Bible in the Public Square: Reading the Signs of the Times. Edited by Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, and Jonathan A. Draper. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2008. vii + 267 pages. $26.00 (cloth).

"Interpreting the signs of the times" (Matt. 16:3b) reflects the ambition of this volume: to use knowledge of the Bible and its context to construct critical perspectives in regard to the current political climate. This means taking seriously the political context in which we read the Bible, in addition to the political context of the Bible's production. Written in dedication to Richard A. Horsley, this book consists of fifteen contributions by prominent scholars on topics concerned with the intersection of the Bible, the academy, and the church with life in the public domain.

The first section, "Biblical Insight into the Present Moment," includes essays that draw links between features of political significance in the biblical text and our contemporary situation, such as ancient systems of oppression like Babylonian and Roman imperialism with the hegemonic regime at work in the United States. Warren Carter, for example, is interested in developing reading strategies that enable mainline church groups to interpret the Bible as negotiating imperialism. He looks to John's gospel as a site of considerable contestation given prevailing spiritualized readings that focus on individual salvation rather than on what he identifies as obvious points oí negotiation between the Johannine community and imperial Rome. Similarly. Cvnthia Briggs Kittredge analyzes the rhetoric of George W. Bush's presidential speeches in conversation with Paul and rhetorical criticism. She intriguingly identifies the si mi lari tv of language employed in relation to positions of power; Paul as a spokesperson lora minority religion in conflict with Roman authority, as opposed to Bush as the president of a world superpower.

The second section, "Questioning the Ekklesia and the Academy." assesses the presuppositions and interpretive trends of those in the church and the academic guild. Steven J. Friesen, for example, presents a radical survey of twentieth -ecu tu rv Pauline scholarship to reveal how issues of economic inequality affecting Pauline assemblies ? …