Monsters and Empires (BIBL418)
The biblical traditions emerged in the shadows of the empires of the ancient Near East, including Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Thus, the biblical writers had to navigate the terrains of accommodation and resistance to these empires and their hegemonies. Quite often there is protest against imperial and colonial ideologies to subversively inspire hope in the imagination of those who are colonized and oppressed. One common motif that biblical traditions have appropriated is the combat myth motif in which the Deity fights against monsters of chaos. In the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Revelation, empires are portrayed as monsters. As these traditions construct empires as monstrous, a theology of God’s reign emerges, and a theology of decolonization is put forth. The fascination with monsters and empires has continued to the present day, adding legitimacy to imperial expansions in the contemporary world, and it has equally inspired faith in the face of the horrors of the empire. This course will study the biblical traditions that deal with monsters and empires, and it will address how these traditions were received in popular culture by employing insights from monster theory and postcolonial criticism.