Teaching and Speaking
I teach several Biblical Studies units at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University. My primary teaching interests are in the following areas, although I am open to opportunities to explore other related fields:
When is a prophet not a prophet?
The biblical book of Jonah (which is, strictly speaking, not a 'book' at all but part of a collection of writings known as 'The Twelve Prophets') has attracted the attention of scholars for centuries. This short work is important for Jews, who read it during the holiest day of the year (Yom Kippur) and for Christians because it was quoted by Jesus. However, opinions are divided as to the meaning and purpose of this enigmatic work. It's a strange book, different to any other 'prophetic' book, and its key character is the opposite of what we'd expect of a biblical prophet.
I argue that by understanding how biblical writers used satire, humour and parody we discover some clues about the intention of the writers(s) of Jonah. Read in this light, the message of Jonah may be as relevant to a modern audience as it was when it was first written.
Jonah and the problem of theodicy
Job and the problem of suffering
Jesus' teaching methods
Three men walked into a bar [mitzvah]: or, how to spot a joke in the Bible.
Some of my primary research interests include:
Humour in the Hebrew Bible: It has been said that the Bible is the largest book in which there is absolutely no humour. However, some of the difficult or puzzling texts in the Bible make a great deal more sense once we allow for the possibility that the writers were using various forms of humour to make their points. My current research is focussing on the purpose of humour in the Bible, and what it tells us about the politics, theology and primary concerns of its writers.
To book me for teaching or speaking appointments click here:
I have presented the following papers at academic conferences:
Here are links to some of my blog posts related to recent research projects:
The biblical book of Jonah: I argue that Jonah contains several comic elements including parody, satire and ridicule. Who is the target of this parody, and what was their purpose in using this form of humour? Does understanding this shed any light on who wrote this little book, and why?
Job and the problem of suffering: The biblical book of Job is mostly poetry and is often ranked in polls as a favourite part of the Bible. Yet few people could explain what it's really about. A major part of the book is a debate between Job and three friends regarding the causes of human suffering and the theological connection between sin and sickness. The book moves on to a challenge by Job to God to answer his questions, yet, after a lengthy reply by God (containing some superb poetry!) the reader is left as puzzled as when they began.
I argue that Job is one of the earliest known theatrical works. It is a courtroom drama with God as the defendant as well as the judge. Click here to request a copy of my article in the journal Literature and Aesthetics (24 (2) December 2014) titled
"A Reading of Job as a Theatrical Work: Challenging a Retributive Deuteronomistic Theodicy".