It is no surprise that the Bible is filled with stories of violence, having come into being through the crucible of trauma, cultural conflict, and warfare. But the more obvious acts of physical or sexual violence in the Hebrew Bible often overshadow its subtler forms throughout Scripture and belie the variety of perspectives on violence embedded in biblical narratives. This hinders readers’ ability to recognize the full spectrum of human engagement with violence, both in texts and in their lived experiences.
Uncovering Violence: Reading Biblical Narratives as an Ethical Project seeks to provide a theoretical vocabulary for the various forms that violence can take—including textual violence, interpretive violence, moral injury, and slow violence—and to offer a fresh ethical reading of violence in the biblical text. Focusing on four narratives from the Hebrew Bible, Cottrill uses the approach of narrative ethics to lay out the many ways that stories can make moral claims on readers, not by delivering a discrete “lesson” or takeaway but by making transformative contact with readers and involving them in a more embodied dialogue with the text.
Exploring the narratives of Jael’s killing of Sisera, the toxic masculinity of Samson, environmental devastation and failures of legal systems in Ruth, and Abigail’s mediation with King David, Uncovering Violence presents strategies for reading that allow for this close encounter. In doing so, it helps prepare readers to better recognize, interpret, and even respond to violence and its many effects within and beyond the text.