Would you Adam and Eve it? Social Scientific Contributions to the Study of the Reception of Scripture in Consumer Society

Ibrahim Abraham


My argument, simply put, is that if the study of the reception of the Bible and popular culture is going to offer insights into the function of scripture in contemporary consumer societies, then it must move beyond methodologies designed for the study of sacred literature; there must be meaningful engagement with the cultures of production and consumption of popular culture, and biblical scholars must be prepared to surrender their privileged interpretive position. I have argued elsewhere that in reception histories of biblical tropes in popular music, the typical approach is to identify a favored genre or artist, then utilize a similar methodology as found in approaches to the study of scripture that reception scholars critique or wish to move away from. The focus is on the production of culture through recourse to biographies and interviews, and the consumer of popular culture is the trained biblical scholar through the close reading of lyrics as text. In the case of popular music, then, reception studies of the Bible in contemporary popular culture are methodologically incapable of telling us as much about the current reception of the Bible as they would like to, since engagement with the world beyond biblical scholarship is limited to the production of popular culture. In the case of the study of biblical tropes in contemporary advertising, I think the methodological question is more pronounced. Without engaging the culture within which advertising is produced, in addition to engaging the culture within which advertising is consumed, advertisements might appear as fully formed ideological artifacts without the complexities that biblical scholars have recognized inform the production and reception of scripture.


Katie Edwards; Admen and Eve; consumption

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391