• Abraham, Testament of: Reception in Literature

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2009-06-01)
      Encyclopaedia article on the reception of the Testament of Abraham in literature.
    • Ahithophel (DBWC)

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012-10-22)
      Dictionary article on Ahithophel for the Dictionary of the Bible and Western Culture.
    • Ahithophel: Reception in Literature

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2009-07-01)
      Encyclopaedia article on the reception of Ahithophel in literature.
    • Alexander Jannaeus (King of Judaea)

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2009-06-01)
      Encyclopaedia article stub on Alexander Jannaeus.
    • Asmodeus (DBWC)

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012-10-22)
      Dictionary article on Asmodeus for the Dictionary of the Bible and Western Culture.
    • Asmodeus: Reception History

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2009-07-01)
      Encyclopaedia article on the reception of Asmodeus in popular culture.
    • Depicting the Divine: The Ambiguity of Exodus 3 in Exodus: Gods and Kings

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016-12-01)
      Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings offers a distinctly innovative approach to the perennial problem of how to depict the divine in film. This article first briefly considers some of the ways in which previous directors have grappled with the issue of depicting the divine, before assessing the effectiveness of Scott’s own ‘solution’, focusing in turn on questions of implied identity, tangibility, and character/imagery. In particular it is argued that, whether intentional or not, the ambiguity as to the specific identity of the divine character mirrors rather precisely an ambiguity present in the biblical text itself. Similarly, the manner in which the character is portrayed, while adopting and adhering to a number of modern tropes and keeping the door open to more naturalistic interpretations, likewise reflects (and indeed, can shed light upon) much that is in the textual tradition. Ultimately it is argued that Scott’s representation of the divine can be said to (perhaps unintentionally) reflect simultaneously both the most progressive and the most successfully ‘biblical’ depiction to date.
    • Examining the Reception and Impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Some Possibilities for Future Investigation

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Brill, 2011-01-01)
      The last sixty years afford us a remarkable, though largely unexplored, opportunity to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls from the perspective of “reception history.” This article first provides an overview of what has already been done with regard to this goal and highlights the importance and timeliness of such an approach, suggesting that it is furthermore a necessary endeavor if Qumran Studies is to keep pace with developments in the wider world of Biblical Studies. It continues by outlining some possible directions for future investigation, identifying academic reception, popular reception, and processes of knowledge transfer as three main areas or categories into which such examinations could helpfully be divided. The internal processes of scrolls scholarship, the relationship between Qumran Studies and Biblical Studies, gender issues, the scrolls in literature, film, music, and art, and the role of exhibitions, documentaries, and newspapers, are all highlighted as potential areas for future research.
    • The First World War and the Mobilization of Biblical Scholarship

      Collins, Matthew A.; Mein, Andrew; MacDonald, Nathan; University of Chester; University of Durham; University of Cambridge (T&T Clark, 2019-03-07)
      This fascinating collection of essays charts, for the first time, the range of responses by scholars on both sides of the conflict to the outbreak of war in August 1914. The volume examines how biblical scholars, like their compatriots from every walk of life, responded to the great crisis they faced, and, with relatively few exceptions, were keen to contribute to the war effort. Some joined up as soldiers. More commonly, however, biblical scholars and theologians put pen to paper as part of the torrent of patriotic publication that arose both in the United Kingdom and in Germany. The contributors reveal that, in many cases, scholars were repeating or refining common arguments about the responsibility for the war. In Germany and Britain, where the Bible was still central to a Protestant national culture, we also find numerous more specialized works, where biblical scholars brought their own disciplinary expertise to bear on the matter of war in general, and this war in particular. The volume’s contributors thus offer new insights into the place of both the Bible and biblical scholarship in early 20th-century culture.
    • Introduction

      Collins, Matthew A.; Middleton, Paul; University of Chester; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
      Introduction to the volume Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety – A Tercentenary Celebration (London: T&T Clark, 2019).
    • Loss of the Bible and the Bible in Lost: Biblical Literacy and Mainstream Television

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2015-02-26)
      Recent well-publicised efforts to encourage biblical literacy have emerged as a direct response to its perceived ‘decline’. The assumed (or feared) gradual ‘loss’ of the Bible to modern society at large has given rise to a renewed determination in some quarters to ensure an ongoing engagement and familiarity with what ex-Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion calls ‘an essential piece of cultural luggage’. The present examination addresses the question of biblical literacy from the perspective of mainstream television, problematising a straightforward assumption of its decline. Focusing on the popular U.S. television series Lost (2004–2010, ABC), it highlights the surprising prominence of biblical allusion (both implicit and explicit) throughout. This in turn raises questions about biblical literacy among the writers and, more crucially, the extent to which biblical literacy is assumed (or not) on the part of the audience. This examination, however, goes one step further by suggesting that, since the very nature of the programme deliberately encourages a close attention to detail on the part of its viewers and (over-)analysis of what is seen and heard, it may be that, whether or not Lost assumes continued familiarity with the biblical text, it would intriguingly appear to play a (perhaps unintentional) part in actively encouraging and promoting it.
    • Lot’s Daughters (DBWC)

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012-10-22)
      Dictionary article on Lot's daughters for the Dictionary of the Bible and Western Culture.
    • Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety– A Tercentenary Celebration

      Collins, Matthew A.; Middleton, Paul; University of Chester; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
      Three hundred years after his death, Matthew Henry (1662–1714) remains arguably the best known expositor of the Bible in English, due to his six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. However, Henry’s famous commentary is by no means the only expression of his engagement with the Scriptures. His many sermons and works on Christian piety — including the still popular Method for Prayer — are saturated with his peculiarly practical approach to the Bible. To mark the tercentenary of Henry’s death, Matthew A. Collins and Paul Middleton have brought together notable historians, theologians, and biblical scholars to celebrate his life and legacy. Representing the first serious examination of Henry’s body of work and approach to the Bible, Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety opens a scholarly conversation on Matthew Henry’s place in the eighteenth-century nonconformist movement, his contribution to the interpretation of the Bible, and his continued legacy in evangelical piety.
    • Micah, Pesher of (ESTJ)

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester
      Encyclopaedia article on the Pesher of Micah.
    • On the Trail of a Biblical Serial Killer: Sherlock Holmes and the Book of Tobit

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-01-24)
      In the book of Tobit, Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, is tormented by the demon Asmodeus. She has been married seven times, but each time the demon kills her husband on her wedding night. In despair, she contemplates suicide and prays for deliverance. In the course of the narrative, Tobias, the son of Tobit, travels from Nineveh to Ecbatana and, with the help of the archangel Raphael, defeats the demon and marries Sarah. Between 1939 and 1946, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred together in The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a series of radio plays broadcast in the United States. One episode, aired on 26 March 1945, was titled ‘The Book of Tobit’ and featured Holmes and Watson investigating the deaths of a woman’s previous three husbands, each of whom, prior to his death, had received a threatening letter signed ‘Asmodeus’. Though substantially different in both content and context, throughout the case numerous comparisons are made with its scriptural forebear. This essay first explores the use of and engagement with Tobit in this wartime murder mystery before turning to re-examine the biblical text in the light of Holmes’ namesake investigation. By effectively transposing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s celebrated detective to ancient Ecbatana, the inherently murderous nature of the biblical tale comes into sharper focus and the peculiarities of the narrative and its folkloric origins are both reassessed and illuminated from a perspective informed by crime fiction. In doing so, this essay further illustrates the extent to which the ‘genre lens’ through which we approach a text may govern our reading of it. Putting Sherlock Holmes on the case, a rather different interpretation of the text emerges – one in which there is a serial killer on the loose in the book of Tobit, and Sarah may not in fact be as innocent as she seems.
    • An Ongoing Tradition: Aronofsky’s Noah as 21st-Century Rewritten Scripture

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-05-09)
      Described by its director, Darren Aronofsky, as “the least biblical biblical film ever made,” Noah (2014) generated a huge amount of controversy among some Christian groups for its perceived radical departure from the biblical text. This article argues (i) that the departure is not in fact so great as some have claimed (with many apparent innovations grounded in pseudepigraphal and rabbinic literature), and (ii) that the strategies employed by the filmmakers reflect a retelling of the story which is in fact very much in line with the motivation and literary techniques of an expanded ancient tradition. It begins by noting the origins and development of the Israelite flood narrative, from its ancient Near Eastern roots through to the biblical account, before examining its continuing evolution through extrabiblical Second Temple and rabbinic literature (e.g., Jubilees, the Genesis Apocryphon, Genesis Rabbah, etc.) as part of an ongoing process of elaboration, clarification, interpretation, explanation, and harmonization. Through a close examination of the “innovative” material in Aronofsky’s film, the aims, techniques, and execution of the biblical epic in general, and Noah in particular, are shown to be thoroughly in line with those of so-called rewritten scripture, such that the film sits comfortably on a spectrum/continuum of “rewriting” the flood narrative that stretches back to the biblical text itself and beyond. Accordingly, this article considers what it means for a film to be “biblical”, arguing with regard to Noah that instances of departure from the text are in fact anticipated in, and/or entirely consistent with, an expanded “biblical” tradition, effectively rendering the film an example of 21st-century rewritten scripture.
    • Professors of Religion and their Strange Wives: Diluvian Discord in the Eyes of Matthew Henry

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
      The summer of 2014 marked the tercentenary of the death of Matthew Henry (1662–1714), a leading figure among early eighteenth-century Dissenters and author of the six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1707–1714/25). This monumental work, which by 1855 had already been published in twenty-five different editions, attempted a peculiarly practical approach to the biblical text and continues to be widely used and readily accessible even today in both print and online versions. The theme of foreign (or ‘strange’) wives and Israelite intermarriage is one which occurs throughout the Hebrew Bible and, accordingly, throughout Matthew Henry’s commentary upon it. Where it appears, the practice of intermarriage is characterized by Henry as (at best) unwise and (at worst) a very real threat to both social and religious cohesion. This essay explores how Henry deals with the issue of ‘strange wives’, why he believes they continue to pose a threat, and (in view of the overall intention of his commentary) what ‘practical observations’ he offers to his reader as a result. In doing so it is argued that Henry’s commentary traces a thematic thread from the ante-diluvian age to the post-exilic period of calamities resulting from mixed marriages between ‘professors of religion’ and their ‘strange wives’.
    • Scholarly and Popular Reception

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Bloomsbury / T&T Clark, 2018-09-20)
      For more than two-thirds of a century, the Dead Sea Scrolls have left a trail of intrigue and controversy in their wake. They have had an immeasurable impact, not only within the realms of academia and scholarship, but also upon the wider world, thanks to the widespread permeation of the scrolls into popular culture. On the one hand, they have provided scholars with a previously unimaginable wealth of textual material from the Second Temple period (shedding light, for instance, on the literature and social, political and religious world of the intertestamental era, as well as the transmission history of the scriptural texts), while on the other, the infamy resulting from years of restricted access and the consequent perceived secrecy surrounding their content has made them attractive to a fascinated public, for whom ‘the Dead Sea Scrolls’ constitutes ‘a cultural “buzz-phrase” signifying mystery, conspiracy, and ancient or hidden knowledge’ (Collins, 2011, p. 227). How have the Dead Sea Scrolls come to occupy this conceptual space in the public consciousness, and how might we begin to examine and explain the impact they continue to have upon both the academic and popular spheres?
    • SOTS, SBL, and WWI: Anglo-American Scholarly Societies and the Great War

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-03-07)
      In January 1917, in the midst of the First World War, a small group of biblical scholars gathered at King’s College London for the inaugural meeting of the newly-formed Society for Old Testament Study (SOTS). The decision to create such a society had been taken the previous summer at Queens’ College, Cambridge, on 29 June 1916, just two days before the commencement of the Battle of the Somme. Thus the origins of this British-based society are to be found firmly (and somewhat peculiarly) planted in the context and conflict of the Great War. As a result, the records and history of the early years of the society afford us a valuable window through which to view the landscape of biblical scholarship of the period. Likewise, the detailed minutes and papers of the wartime meetings of the larger and already established US-based Society of Biblical Literature (SBL; founded in 1880) offer a similar (yet distinct) insight into academic attitudes on the other side of the Atlantic and especially the challenges to biblical scholarship (both ideological and practical) posed by the outbreak of war. Accordingly, in thinking about the wartime mobilization of biblical studies, this essay takes as its focus the effect of the war upon British and American scholarly societies (epitomized here by SOTS and SBL) and the response(s) of those societies as indicative of shifts and trends in both wartime and post-war biblical scholarship. Although predominantly a historical survey, drawing upon the records and minutes of the two groups in order to reconstruct events, it is argued that, in both their rhetoric and the practical steps taken towards scholarly reconciliation, these societies may be seen as having actively resisted the idea of 'the enemy' prevalent in propaganda material of the time. In doing so, they were subsequently well positioned to play a significant role in the swift re-establishment of international scholarly relations after the First (and indeed later, the Second) World War. Thus, it is argued that, during wartime, these scholarly societies performed a potentially unintentional yet vital regulatory function as tools enabling and encouraging the maintenance, preservation, recovery, and continuity of international biblical scholarship.
    • Television and the Bible in American Popular Culture

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester
      This essay examines the Bible in American television, focusing in particular on the twenty-first century. It suggests that there are three broad categories which may helpfully illustrate and encompass the diverse ways in which the Bible appears and/or is utilized: (i) educating about the Bible (e.g., documentaries); (ii) dramatizing the Bible (renditions of biblical stories); and (iii) drawing on the Bible (the impact or use of the Bible in other television programs). Examining each of these in turn, this essay highlights the prevalence of the Bible within television and thus within American popular culture more generally, as well as considering some of the myriad ways in which it has been read, used, and interpreted. In particular, it endeavors to show how the medium can function as a tool for both reflecting and promoting levels of biblical literacy among its audience.