Keith Bodner
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Keith Bodner, Ph.D.

Professor of Religious Studies and Stuart E. Murray Chair of Christian Studies

506-858-8970 ext: 137

About

B.A., University of Manitoba, M.C.S., Regent College, Ph.D., University of Aberdeen, Ph.D., University of Manchester

Office: Murray Hall 276

Contact

I have just completed my eighth year on the faculty of Crandall University, and I consider it a great privilege to teach here, and engage with so many bright students and colleagues. Prior to coming to Crandall I served on the faculty of Tyndale University College in Toronto, and I have lectured and taught courses in more than ten different universities and theological schools. I am originally from British Columbia (Vancouver, then Kelowna), and was educated at the University of Manitoba and Regent College, before heading for postgraduate work in Biblical Studies at the University of Aberdeen and in English Literature at the University of Manchester.

One of my central academic interests is analyzing biblical narrative from a literary perspective. For a long time, academic study of the Hebrew Bible was restricted to certain modes of inquiry, such as source analysis, historical criticism, redactional studies, comparative religion, ancient near east parallels, and form-critical studies. Relegated to the back seat, so to speak, was an interest in the traditional elements of literary readings, such as plot, character, irony, motif, theme, temporal and spatial settings, point of view, intertextuality, and structural design. I am certainly interested in other reading strategies, but in terms of specialization, much of my current writing is directed toward this area of research. Early next year I will have a book on Absalom’s Rebellion coming out (Routledge), and I am also working on a fairly long commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles for Eerdmans in the NICOT series. I am also writing some articles on monarchy and administration in the ancient world for an OUP encyclopedia, Dante’s Inferno, and narrative criticism in the book of Kings for an OUP handbook edited by Danna Fewell. I teach courses ranging from Themes of the Bible to Western Religions, and one of my goals is to help students become excellent writers. I certainly identify with Scot McKnight’s comment, “Teaching is no longer about downloading information, but about collaboration and mutual education.”

My wife Coreen also serves on the Crandall faculty (in the area of science), and together we have two teenage daughters and an energetic ten-year-old son. If we had more time, I suppose we would visit more museums in Europe, peruse bookstores and great libraries, and devote two hours per day to physical fitness regimes. But since the vast majority of our leisure time is spent as taxi drivers for the aforementioned three people, we are presently not in a position to exercise such options. We are, however, involved in our local church, and are longsuffering fans of the Vancouver Canucks (in fact, our first date was the Canucks vs. the New York Rangers, and surprisingly, the Canucks lost the game, but I won the girl).

RECENT BOOKS

Elisha’s Profile in the Book of Kings: The Double Agent (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

This book uses the tools of literary criticism to read the Elisha narrative as an integral component of the Deuteronomistic History compiled in the aftermath of the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. From his investiture in 1 Kings 19 to his final cameo in 2 Kings 13, Elisha the prophet has one of the most extensively-narrated careers in Israel’s royal history. During a particularly dark and contested era where the corrupt northern kings hold sway, Elisha enters the ideological battleground and boldly raises his voice and performs remarkable signs to stem the tide of injustice and religious inconstancy. Empowered by a double portion of his master Elijah’s spirit, Elisha is a double agent who continues the task of dismantling the Omride dynasty. Moving between the international stage and more domestic locales, Elisha travels widely and interacts with a host of characters from virtually every socio-economic category, visiting foreign capitals and cities under siege as well as wealthy homes and obscure villages. With actions that range from feeding a multitude to mind-reading and raising the dead, Elisha’s performance eclipses that of his master and ensures a lasting place in ancient Israel’s prophetic heritage.

The Artistic Dimension: Literary Explorations of the Hebrew Bible (LHBOTS 590; London: T & T Clark, 2013)

The book has four parts, and is designed to provide the reader with a number of different types of studies in order to demonstrate that literary analysis has a host of applications in biblical interpretation. The opening section of the book deals with the area of textual criticism. The three chapters in this section each offer an example of how literary analysis is, in fact, a vital (yet neglected) component of textual criticism. Part two features a sustained engagement with one particular section of the Hebrew Bible, the so-called “ark narrative” of 1 Samuel 4-6. The two chapters in this section both address different facets of recent scholarship, with the larger argument that literary analysis is extremely helpful for understanding the poetics of this narrative. Part three of this book explores other areas of the Hebrew Bible, including a sample of the historiographic material in the Deuteronomistic History and a lengthy text from the book of Proverbs, with interest in the different kinds of character configurations and plot developments that are available in these accounts. Part four then turns to the often neglected books of 1 & 2 Chronicles. Recent times have seen a resurgence of interest in these last books of the Hebrew canon, and the three chapters in this section illustrate how the Chronicler’s work is a congenial site for literary study. Along with a short concluding chapter, the assembled chapters petition for a heightened awareness of the artistic achievement of the Hebrew Bible.

Jeroboam’s Royal Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

Among the most challenging biblical figures to understand is Jeroboam son of Nebat, the first monarch of northern Israel whose story is told in 1 Kings 11-14. This book explores the characterization of Jeroboam in the Hebrew text, and traces his rags to riches career trajectory. What are the circumstances whereby this widow’s son is elevated to the position of king, with a conditional promise for a lasting dynasty? A close reading of the narrative reveals a literary achievement of great subtlety and complexity. Even though he becomes the negative standard for the rest of Israel’s royal history, Jeroboam’s portrait is far more nuanced than is often realized and yields a host of surprises for the engaged reader. Numerous issues are raised in the 1 Kings 11-14 material, including questions of power, leadership, and the role of the prophetic office in national affairs. Against the grain of conventional interpretation that tends to idealize or vilify biblical characters, this study locates the arrival of Jeroboam’s kingship as a direct response to scandalous activity within the Solomonic empire.