Isaiah as horror story

What moves me in the Bible — in any religious text — is mythic meanings. I mean this in the high sense, the “myth is truer than literal truth” sense. And one way to access and work with this is through a reader-oriented approach that focuses on how you’re interacting cognitively and emotionally with the text at the moment. Reader-response criticism is an accepted and respected critical methodology, and I combined it with a literary-esque approach to understand how and why the Isaian text was hinting to me that it could be validly read as a cosmic horror story of a quasi-Lovecraftian sort.

Matt Cardin interviewed at TheoFantastique

[read more]

This interview is interesting for its own sake but I especially liked the idea of Reader-Response Criticism. This sounds to me a little like “exegesis on the fly.” And I wonder about the implications of that with regard to the more macabre and fantastic sections of the Scriptures. Do we fail to appreciate stories like the death of Ehud or Daniel’s vision because we’re approaching the text as a didactic text rather than a fantastic text? I don’t wish to suggest that historical narratives or apocalyptic visions can’t have didactic elements. In fact, I tell my exegesis students that all Bible genre are didactic beneath the surface. Perhaps this is where illustrations, woodcuts, anime and creative typesetting can help modern readers to appreciate just how strange and wonderful the Bible can be.

HT: Sam Norton on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Isaiah as horror story

  1. sidleejr says:

    “Reader Response Criticism” is diametrically opposed to the Bible message.

    It is extremely ridiculous and far fetched.

    If true, this would mean that God has a different message for every persdon. We would have no “good message” for the world.

    “For the natural man seeks not the things of the Spirit of the God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know for they are spiritually discerned” – 1 xCor 2.14.

  2. Kirsty says:

    I don’t see Isaiah as a horror story, but I see the general point.
    If all God had wanted to do was convey information, he really wouldn’t have done it with poems and weird visions and true stories of messed-up people. As a child, my second favourite* Bible books were Ezekiel and Revelation – because of the weird visions. Did I get anything spiritual out of them? Probably not – except that the Bible is interesting and full of cool stuff. Imagination captured first; later begin to understand what it means.
    *My top favourite was Leviticus. Honestly.

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