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Performing Habakkuk

Performing Habakkuk

by Jeanette Mathews


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Scripture, like any performance, aims for transformation of its audience. In this new study Jeanette Mathews demonstrates how literature from the diverse field of performance studies can be applied to the prophetic book of Habakkuk in order to draw out themes and features that are common to both. Mathews offers a fresh new translation of Habakkuk that emphasizes and celebrates its intrinsic dramatic features. This translation provides the ""script"" for the performance of Habakkuk. The attitudes and actions of the ""actors"" in the performance become models for their ""audience,"" such that the audience members are drawn into the performance and do not remain impartial spectators. The context of crisis that forms the book's ""setting"" is of crucial importance, ensuring that genres such as complaint and lament are taken seriously as expressions of faith in the midst of traumatic experience. The open-ended script makes explicit the drama of faithfulness in the midst of cultural trauma and public crises--a faithfulness that is ready to be reenacted in our own settings.

""Performance criticism is a developing critical methodology providing new insights into the Hebrew prophets . . . Performing Habakkuk provides a clear and thorough application of performance criticism in a way that breathes new life into the book of Habakkuk. A must-read for those interested in the Hebrew prophets!""
--Terry Giles, Charles Sturt University

""Mathews carefully and creatively engages performance criticism as a lens for interpreting prophetic literature. She highlights performative elements within Habakkuk that both aid in its interpretation and serve as clues for a script that can be re-enacted for today's communities of faith.""
--James D. Nogalski, Baylor University

""This pioneering work illustrates the use of performance criticism to present a holistic understanding of the composition and implied rhetorical impact of Habbakuk. In addition to a helpful review of secular and biblical performance studies, Mathews develops a step-by-step procedure to explore the sounds, emotions, characters, images, and audience of Habbakuk . . . In so doing, she brings considerable insight to the artistry and meaning of this prophetic composition.""
--David Rhoads, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

""Readers wanting the best biblical criticism will find it here, as Mathews gives new life to Habakkuk through the lens of performance criticism. Habakkuk becomes a dramatic script enlivened with sight and sound, awakening modern readers to participate in the drama. Mathews draws us into the heart of Habakkuk, the struggle to live faithfully in crisis. Habakkuk is not simply to be read, but heard, seen, and lived by all communities seeking to live faithfully. Mathews shows us how.""
--Kandy Queen, Stetson University

""The prophetic book of Habakkuk aims, as does all Scripture, at the transformation of its audience. Mathews has creatively used performance criticism to highlight the drama of Habakkuk and retrieve its message of faithfulness in the midst of cultural trauma and public crises. She has also provided a new translation that provides the 'script' for the performance of Habakkuk. I highly recommend this book.""
--Thorwald Lorenzen, Charles Sturt University

About the Contributor(s):
Jeanette Mathews teaches Old Testament at the School of Theology of Charles Sturt University in Australia. She is an ordained Baptist minister.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498261197
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 05/23/2012
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

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