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Loitering with Intent: Biblical Texts in Public Places

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image of Biblical Interpretation

This essay is about the effect of the Bible in the public arena. It explores the fate of biblical texts as they find themselves in the popular press. Secular newspapers are not the natural place to look for biblical citations but now and then they make appearances either to support or subvert issues ranging from asylumseekers to the use of corporal punishment for children. At a time when biblical allusions and imagery have all but evaporated from the Western consciousness, the intermittent showing up of sacred texts in the secular print media is a sign that the scriptures still have some hermeneutical hold. The essay looks at four areas—international conflict, sexual orientation, law and order and bringing-up children—where biblical texts are being summoned either to endorse or to repudiate. The essay raises hermeneutical issues such as how biblical texts are used in print media, the nature of the texts employed, the interface between popular and professional reading, the role of the common reader as a biblical commentator, and concludes with an examination of the standing and sway of the Bible as it moves outside its own natural habitat.

Affiliations: 1: University of Birmingham


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