Monday, February 20, 2012

Review of Schipper & Moss, eds. Disability Studies and Biblical Literature

Jeremy Schipper and Candida R. Moss, eds. Disability Studies andBiblical Literature. New York Macmillan, 2011. 248 pp. $90.00
(cloth), ISBN 978-0-230-33829-6.

Reviewed by Amos Yong (Regent University)
Published on H-Disability (February, 2012)
Commissioned by Iain C. Hutchison

Disability Studies and Biblical Interpretation: Toward Emancipation?

The establishment of the Biblical Scholarship and Disabilities program unit within the Society of Biblical Literature in 2004 (since renamed at least twice, now going under the title Healthcare and Disability in the Ancient World) has begun to generate a steady stream of scholarship, both monographs and edited volumes, at the interface of these two disciplines. The goal of _Disability Studies and Biblical Literature_, edited by Candida R. Moss (University of Notre Dame) and Jeremy Schipper (Temple University), is "to familiarize the reader with research on disability and the Bible done by scholars who specialize in biblical studies" (p. 2). Besides the editors' introduction, which surveys and situates this volume within the state of the discussion at this intersection, there are twelve chapters by biblical scholars who each draw innovatively from the discipline of disability studies in order to illuminate the scriptural material. In particular, social and cultural models of disability prevalent in the field of disability studies provide alternative perspectives that, on the one hand, distinguish between bodily impairments and the social experiences of prejudice and discrimination, and on the other hand, show how disability is "a product of the ways that cultures use physical and cognitive differences to narrate, organize, and interpret their world" (p. 4). When deployed as lenses through which to revisit the biblical material, new light is shed on impairing conditions and disabling realities in the ancient world.