In the past month, I interviewed Sarah Ruden about her new book, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible (published by Pantheon Books), and her new translation of St. Augustine’s Confessions (published by The Modern Library). The two interviews can be found here and here, respectively.
In the run up to the interviews and in their wake, Sarah and I traded messages about Augustine, the Bible, and other topics. Sarah kindly granted me permission to reproduce parts of our exchange here in an edited format.
Garrett: I can’t help but begin by asking: Is there a work of Greek or Latin literature that is unduly overlooked? Or, to put a different spin on the question, is there a work of Greek or Latin literature that should be better known or more widely read by Christians?
Sarah: I’m an interested party, because I’ve translated this work myself, but still I can’t resist recommending Apuleius’s Golden Ass, a comic novel of the mid-second century A.D. The book gives vivid pictures of ordinary people’s lives at a time of great growth in Christianity. Also, the story is full of moral and religious themes and offers the most detailed account to date of a religious conversion; the conversion is to the worship of the goddess Isis, but the differences from and similarities to Christian conversions are fascinating in themselves. Continue reading “Interview with Sarah Ruden”→
I recently stumbled across an old audio recording of Tim Keller’s sermon, “Hannah’s Prayer for Family,” from October 2007. At minute 31:40, he makes an astonishing observation about the role of women of the Old Testament in the anticipation of the Messiah:
If you look at the forefathers of the Messiah, the penultimate forerunners of the Messiah—the forefathers of the Messiah were Samuel and Sampson and David and Gideon—they all brought salvation by being strong and getting glory. And so they [their descendants] looked at Jesus and said, “That can’t be the Messiah. The Messiah wouldn’t be weak. The Messiah wouldn’t be disgraced.”
Do you know what their problem was? They were looking at the forefathers of the Messiah but not the foremothers; they were looking at the men who were the forerunners of Jesus but not the women.
Because over and over again God gave a foretaste of the real gospel and the work of Jesus Christ in the fact that he continually brought his salvation of the world through the barren, through the rejected, through the unwanted women.
It’s old barren Sarah not beautiful fertile Hagar through whom God brings the royal messianic saving seed of Isaac.
It’s through Leah, the girl that nobody wanted, the wife that Jacob didn’t want, not Rachel the beautiful and the wanted; it’s through Leah that God brings the royal messianic saving seed of Judah.
Sampson is born to a barren woman who shouldn’t be able to have children.
Samuel is born to a suffering, disgraced woman, but through through the suffering and disgrace of Hannah salvation comes.
If you had looked at the foremothers, you would have known that Isaiah was talking about the Messiah when he said that the one who comes to save us will suffer disgrace and be crushed for our iniquities. Jesus experienced the reversal that Hannah was talking about. . . .
The women in the Old Testament show that Jesus Christ is not just a coming King but a suffering servant.
On June 4, 2016, Garrett Brown recorded an interview with Richard B. Hays, which was initially released as an hour-long podcast on the New Books Network. The transcript below, which includes 20 additional minutes of conversation, has been edited and revised by the authors. An abridged version of it first appeared in the November/December issue of Books and Culture.
The authors would like to thank Carey Newman of Baylor University Press for his comments on an early draft of this transcript and John Wilson of Books and Culture for his support and enthusiasm for the project.
About Richard B. Hays
Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, is internationally recognized for his work on the Gospels, the letters of Paul, and on New Testament ethics. His scholarly work has bridged the disciplines of biblical criticism and literary studies, exploring the innovative ways in which early Christian writers interpreted Israel’s Scripture. He has also consistently sought to demonstrate how close reading of the New Testament can inform the church’s theological reflection, proclamation, and ministry.
Hays’s book The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation (1996) was selected by Christianity Today as one of the 100 most important religious books of the twentieth century. His more recent books include The Art of Reading Scripture (2003, co-edited with Ellen Davis), The Conversion of the Imagination (2005), Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (2008, co-edited with Beverly Roberts Gaventa), Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation (2012, co-edited with Stefan Alkier), Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (2014), and Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (2016).
Professor Hays has lectured widely in North America, Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Japan. An ordained United Methodist minister, he has preached in settings ranging from rural Oklahoma churches to London’s Westminster Abbey. Professor Hays has chaired the Pauline Epistles Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as the Seminar on New Testament Ethics in the Society for New Testament Studies, and has served on the editorial boards of several leading scholarly journals. Professor Hays received an honorary doctorate (Dr. theol. honoris causa) from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2009. He served as dean of Duke Divinity School from 2010 to 2015.
Garrett Brown: Would you start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
Richard B. Hays: I grew up in Oklahoma, went to an Episcopal day school as a high school student, and had a rich education there that included daily chapel. That had the effect of getting the Book of Common Prayer into my bones, although I was a Methodist by family upbringing.
I went to Yale as an undergraduate and ended up being an English major. I was particularly immersed in poetry and drama of the 16th and 17th centuries. After that, I went to seminary, graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1977, and continued on to a PhD at Emory in New Testament Studies. Continue reading “Interview with Richard B. Hays”→