#Book Review Part 1: From Text to Performance

From Text to Performance: Narrative and Performance Criticisms in Dialogue and Debate (Biblical Performance Criticism)

Edited by Kelly R. Iverson

About the Author

Kelly R. Iverson is Associate Professor of New Testament at Baylor University. He is the author of Gentiles in the Gospel of Mark (2007), and coeditor of Mark as Story (2011) and Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul (2012).


  • Series: Biblical Performance Criticism
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cascade Books (October 31, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1625649878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1625649874

I’d like to thank the kind folks at Wipf & Stock for providing me the a review copy of this volume in exchange for my honest review.

A hat tip goes to Dr. Christopher Skinner who blogged about this book here. I also want to mention for those who may not be familiar with Narrative and Performance Criticism (like me) there is a website devoted to this genre, click here to enjoy the site.

There are 8 essays in this volume.

The first essay it Titled:

Performance Criticism: A Paradigm Shift in New Testament Studies. By David Rhoads & Joanna Dewey.

The essay explains the genre of Performance Criticism is all about informing the reader that the paradigm shift comes as a result or our recognition of the 1st century biblical words as cultures in which orality and memory predominated over writing. Lets face it, if most of the ancient world didn’t have the means to read and write, it’s really not that much of a jump to agree with this opening introduction.

As the essay unpacks the details, using Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolution to understand the nature of paradigm shifts. I really liked how the authors’ provided clarity (on pages 7-8) explaining the importance of observing how they are indeed not setting up an oral/written divide or a binary opposition but a model that encompasses interrelationships of speech, memory and writing. They are advocating a major shift in gravity to a focus on orality, memory and writing that are actualized performances. As I read this, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus and the Apostles in theaters, and places they visited, having emotionally charge speeches and debates, loved it.

The 2nd essay is from Philip Ruge-Jones and is titled:

Those sitting around Jesus, subtitled Situating the Storyteller within Mark’s Gospel.

What this essay does is explain the details of the orator and the narration methods as the story teller using the Gospel of Mark. An example of this (on page 37) gave me clarity, when speaking about the narrative stance of the narrative that comes out of the storyteller’s (The Gospel of Mark) narrating the shapes your portrayal of various characters’ speech and actions. If this sounds like acting, to me, you’d be correct. This doesn’t downplay the high view of Scripture one may have.

The 3rd essay is from Holly E. Hearon and is titled:

The Gospel of John

The author explains how the Canonical Gospels are  considered and how the characters in the Forth Gospel stand out. The reasoning is, in part, several characters who engage in sustained and sometimes complex conversations with Jesus, giving them a high level of visibility and individualism. In the essay the author focuses on Nicodemus her reasoning is regarding the variety of interpretations of Nicodemus’s character are to be found. This makes him a particularly interesting character to explore from the perspectives of both narrative and performance criticisms. Also, noting this essay was completed prior (and didn’t have access) to Characters and Characterization in the Gospel of John, edited by Chris Skinner. Holly’s hope is to give readers a sense of how each methodology works, what is to be gained from each approach, and how the two, at many points, compliment each other.

The forth essay is from Thomas E. Boomershine and is titled:

Audience Asides and the Audiences of Mark, subtitled The Difference Performance Makes

The author explains the reassessment of Mark as performance literature, rather than as a text read by the readers, invites a reexamination of some details that have been foundational for the identification of Mark’s audience in recent Markan scholarship. Thomas uses two statements in Mark that have a central role in the definition of Mark’s original historical context: Mark: 7:3-4 (Jewish ceremonial washings) and Mark 15:21 (identification of Simon of Cyrene as the father of Alexander and Rufus). The thesis here is that these statements were not narrative comments by the author/narrator to readers, but were storyteller asides to the audiences to whom Mark’s story was told. So when the audience asides are heard in the context of ancient performance, the exegetical focus shifts from private communication for the readers to public communication for multifaceted audiences and points to a larger setting and purpose for the whole story.

Part two will be completed tomorrow.

You can purchase this volume at Amazon & Wipf & Stock Publishers

Really Recommended Posts 1/8/16- Hyperbole, Voluntarism, commentaries, and more!

Shared from J.W. Wartick, a snippet, great post.


Happy New Year! Let’s kick off the year with another round of “Really Recommended Posts.”

It’s cold so we’re doing an owl post edition. The topics I have for you, dear readers, include divine voluntarism (what?), hyperbole and the Canaanite conquest narratives, Leibniz’s contingency argument for God, bible commentaries, and Star Trek.

Hyperbole Interpretation is Not Helpful for Canaanite Conquest– Clay Jones argues that the recent apologetic turn towards arguing that the conquest narratives in the Bible feature hyperbole is not as fruitful an apologetic as some have thought. Although some of his argument resonates with me, I think he misses a crucial point in his counter-examples by having different categories of act.

I hope to write a response to this… some day… when I have time.Leibniz’s Contingency Argument (Video)– A relatively short video explaining the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument. I’m not as sold on how the argument is presented here, because I think the premise about the universe and God makes it tougher to defend, but I think this video does a good job of explaining the most important issues. Check out my post on the argument for more details, as well as the version I think is stronger.

Francis Turretin on Divine Voluntarism: Most Reformers Follow Aquinas– I found this an interesting read on the topic of divine voluntarism, which is an intriguing problem within some theological systems…

Source: Really Recommended Posts 1/8/16- Hyperbole, Voluntarism, commentaries, and more!

The Cloud Rider

Shared from Spoiledmilks, a snippet of Lindsay’s excellent review of Dr. Mike S Heiser’s amazing book The Unseen Realm.


One of the biggest enemies of God’s people was another god called Baal. Israel was a monotheistic community, but they usually didn’t live like it. Baal was the storm and fertility god. So if his followers needed crops, they would pray for rain and grain. In some ways it was easier to be polytheistic, at least for the placebo affect. You don’t just pray to one god because, really, how can one God do it all? So you pray to all gods to get all of your prayers fulfilled.

Yet Baal wasn’t just another face in the crowd. He was one of the higher deities in the polytheistic pantheon. And Israel like to worship him, especially since one form of worship involved sexual rituals. Who could say no to that?

In some of the texts of Ugarit, Israel’s northern neighbor, Baal is called “the one who rides the clouds.” It pretty much became his official title. LeBron James shoots hoops, Baal rides cloud.

Yet, it wasn’t just Baal who rode clouds. To turn all the attention back to Yahweh instead of Baal, the biblical authors “occasionally pilfered this stock description of Baal… and assigned it to Yahweh…” (251). 

There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty (Deut 33.26)

O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah
to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice (Ps 68.32-33)

Bless the Lord, O my soul!… He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire (Ps 104.1-4)

An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them (Isa 19.1)

“The effect was to… hold up Yahweh as the deity who legitimately rode through the heavens surveying and governing the world” (252).

Every instance in the OT where someone is riding the clouds, that “someone” is Yahweh. Except, there is… one exception. There is a second figure. A human figure…


Source: The Cloud Rider

The “At’s” of the Second Coming

Shared from Mike’s Place on the Web, a snippet, excellent piece!

The very tiny Greek word, en, is used a lot in Scripture, especially in relation to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It means “at,” and yet it means a little more than just “at.” It has to do with a fixed point in space and time. Certain things will happen “at” the Second Coming. Or, more accurately, our Lord’s much-anticipated Second Coming will trigger a series of events that will happen. They can’t happen any time before He returns, but they will happen “at” His return. His return is the fixed point in space and time when these events will occur.

Let’s take a quick survey of all the “at’s” of the Second Coming.

Resurrection at His coming

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23 KJV)

This verse comes in the midst of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, in which he was addressing one of many problems this great, metropolitan church had. The good folks in this congregation were worried about the resurrection – whether or not there would even be one. The resurrection was then as it is now, a key part of the Gospel – Christ’s resurrection and our eventual resurrection. Some in the church wondered about it.

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12 – 14 KJV..

Source: The “At’s” of the Second Coming

Book Review: “American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion” by John Wilsey

Shared from J.W. Wartick, a snippet, excellent review!

John D. Wilsey’s American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion sheds light on the ways that Americans through history have conceived of the United States as a blessed nation.

The book is organized around various historical periods, from the origins of exceptionalism in the earliest colonial periods to modern times. One aspect of American exceptionalism is “the idea that Americans are a people specially chosen by God and given a destiny to fulfill by him…” (16, cited below).  Throughout the book, Wilsey shows how this idea has developed and how it has negatively impacted not only our theology but also the way the country developed politically and ethically.

Wilsey traces the sad history of slavery and expansion into North America, highlighting how the ideology of American Exceptionalism played into the whole endeavor. Because that which was deemed “American” was theologically tied to a concept of chosen nation and a skewed view of manifest destiny, people from the lowliest white farmer to the President of the United States were able to justify heinous acts upon fellow human beings. Furthermore, due to the concept of chosen nation that theologians lifted from the pages of the Bible and applied to the United States, many of these atrocities were dismissed as aspects of a new eschatological narrative pointing towards the concept of America’s growth and civil religion.


Source: Book Review: “American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion” by John Wilsey

Brief response to Scot McKnight’s latest

Shared from Dr. Chris Tilling’s blog, a snippet of this excellent review!

I’m a big fan of Tom Wright even if I’m largely convinced by certain apocalyptic readings of Paul. So I am invested in these conversations at numerous levels. Here’s a few thoughts, then, in response to Scot McKnight’s most recent review post of Sam Adams’ The Reality of God and Historical Method. I’ve grow a little frustrated with Scot’s reading of Adams, you see, but I don’t have time to read and comment on them all. I’m sure Sam is honoured that Scot is spending so much time on his book, though. I would have been blown away if Scot had done the same for my published PhD!…


Source: Brief response to Scot McKnight’s latest

Book Review | Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage

Shared from Heather C King, a snippet, book review.

Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage by Greg Smalley and Erin Smalley

Greg and Erin Smalley share what they call 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance in their new book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.   Each chapter offers up a tip/secret/marriage principle, such as honoring one another, communication strategies, serving each other, and being committed to each other and to the relationship.  The Smalleys specifically combat some of the lies we buy into about marriage like “marriage is easy when you find ‘the one’ or ‘marriage is about being happy.’  crazylittlethingcalledmarriage

The book is written with a great deal of humor and honest stories from their own marriage.  Most of it seems written from Greg Smalley’s perspective with Erin jumping in occasionally.  I thought some of the best content in the book covered the area of the husband struggling as the spiritual leader in a marriage.  For so many women, when we say we want our men to be spiritual leaders, we define that very specifically:  He needs to initiate prayer time with us every day.  He needs to lead us in family devotions and devotions for us as a couple.  He needs to have daily quiet times that include a prayer journal and then talk about those spiritual insights with us…


Source: Book Review | Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage

And He Struggled With the Angel

Shared from Spoiledmilks, a snippet of this excellent book review!


Since I didn’t want you to think The Unseen Realm was only about Nephilim, I wanted to write about the Trinity as seen in the Old Testament. Last time I looked at the blurring between the Angel of YHWH and YHWH himself in Genesis 22. In this post I’ll look at a few texts that deal with God appearing to Jacob. He Struggled With the AngelGenesis 32.24-30 says, 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”…

Source: And He Struggled With the Angel

Book Review: A Reader’s Greek New Testament (3d ed)

Shared from Eis Doxan, a snippet of this excellent review.


Zondervan has recently released the third edition of its Reader’s Greek New Testament and I will say, having used it for a little while now, it is a noticeable improvement over the previous edition. On the one hand, there are no drastic changes. The same eclectic Greek text still underlies this edition, the same lexicon and the same maps are included in the back, and the same disappointing layout for the definitions below the Greek text, etc. The most obvious difference in this third edition is the aesthetic change, namely a different font was used. While this may seem a small matter, it makes a noticeable difference in the appearance of the text and the difference is much better. I’m not sure what font was used in the second edition, but it was too narrow and the paper used for bibles already thin, this font made it more difficult to read, thus in a sense undermining the volume’s ultimate purpose. The font choice in this edition is much better…

Source: Book Review: A Reader’s Greek New Testament (3d ed)