““Understanding Biblical Satire to Understand Ourselves and Our World.” ”
Tobit’s Dog and Qohelet’s Dinner will reveal how the biblical books of Tobit and Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) explore, respectively, Jewish Diaspora identity (Tobit) and critically imagine responses to injustice in Ptolemaic Palestine (Ecclesiastes) through satire and other double voiced discourse. Aided by theoretical studies of satire (and irony), the book will discern, in ways other studies have not: 1. how Tobit invites readers to robust reflection on Jewish identity in a Hellenistic diasporic context, and 2. how the scribal authors of Ecclesiastes, formed by traditional wisdom’s moral ethos, construct the character of Qohelet, not merely to satirize political and economic elites in Ptolemaic Palestine, but to raise questions about moral identity and appropriate responses to injustice in that context. Interpretation of these two biblical books will resource people of faith today who wrestle with questions of Christian identity and responses to injustice analogous to the ones the ancient texts wrestle with. Though insights and lessons gleaned from Tobit and Ecclesiastes about identity and justice can never be simplistically “applied” to the modern world, the project will result in precisely the sort of academic resource ecclesial leaders in particular will need as they seek to innovatively engage their congregations around matters that urgently demand thoughtful Christian theological and ethical responses.