The Power of Point of View


T H E   P E R S P E C T I V E   C R I T I C I S M   C O M M U N I T Y
Here are profiles of a number of the scholars and graduate students
contributing to the study of point of view in biblical narrative


I have been working with point of view, having become intrigued by the way in which point-of-view moves are capable of producing empathy for characters. . .even negatively characterized characters. My Watching a Biblical Narrative: Point of View in Biblical Exegesis  provides the theoretical foundations for analyzing the point-of-view crafting in biblical narratives, and Perspective Criticism: Point of View and Evaluative Guidance in Biblical Narrative represents a handbook for conducting point-of-view analyses.

Gary Yamasaki (Ph.D. – Union Presbyterian Seminary)
On Faculty at Trinity Western University
Langley, BC
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Elkhart, IN


Aaron photo 4I have taught courses in homiletics and biblical studies at Duke, SMU and Austin Seminary. My books include Preaching Hosea, Amos and Micah, Your Faith Has Made You Well, and the forthcoming The Bible’s Foundation: An Introduction to the Pentateuch.  I contribute regularly to Lectionary Homiletics and Feasting on the Word/Gospels, and to sermon anthologies. I attended Lambuth University, Perkins School of Theology, and Union Presbyterian Seminary (Ph.D.). I am interested in the use of point of view analysis in Old Testament narratives and the potential of this new method for homiletics.

Charles Aaron (Ph.D. – Union Presbyterian Seminary)
Associate Director of the Intern Program
Associate Professor of Supervised Ministry
Perkins School of Theology
Dallas, TX


196x208-Janice-Capel-AndersonMy interest in narrative rhetoric stems originally from my work on the gospels and feminist biblical criticism. I am interested in exploring how postclassical narratologies might shed new light on point of view/perspective/focalization. I am particularly interested in how various readers, viewers, and hearers both embrace and resist narrative worlds.

Janice Capel Anderson (Ph.D. – University of Chicago Divinity School)
Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies
University of Idaho
Moscow, ID


Beal photoMy interest in perspective criticism arises out of my work in narrative analysis. My dissertation explores differing evaluations of Jehu in 2 Kings 9 & 10, and ongoing commentary work in 1-2 Kings, Joshua, and Chronicles applies narrative methodologies. Further attention to the techniques of narratival perspective will contribute to an understanding of how a text is shaped by ideological and theological communities and enable present-day scholars and faith communities to attend to the message of scripture.

Lissa M. Wray Beal (Ph.D. – St. Michael’s University at Toronto School of Theology)
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Chair, Seminary Bible and Theology Department
Providence University College and Theological Seminary
Otterburne, MB


Steve BlackI have been an adjunct instructor at the Vancouver School of Theology from 2005 to the present. My dissertation was a narrative critical analysis of John the Baptist/Elijah in the Gospel of Mark. In my dissertation one aspect of narratology that I found particularly helpful was focalization (which roughly speaking is another way to speak of point of view).

Steve Black (Ph.D. – St. Michael’s College, Toronto)
Adjunct Instructor
Vancouver School of Theology
Vancouver, BC


photo - boda

My interest in point of view stems from my past commentary work on the narratives of 1-2 Chronicles and Judges and my present commentary work on Ezra-Nehemiah. I found literary approaches to ideological point of view helpful in my analysis of various Hebrew narratives and am interested in connecting such analysis to linguistic data in Hebrew and Aramaic.

Mark J. Boda (Ph.D. – Cambridge)
Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College
Professor, Faculty of Theology, McMaster University
Hamilton, ON


photo - campbellMy interest in point of view began with my study of the “we” passages in the Acts of the Apostles. My book, The “We” Passages in the Acts of the Apostles: The Narrator as Narrative Character, examines the role of intermittent first-person plural narration in the book of Acts; that is, how the sudden shifts in grammatical person function in the narrative or, in other words, what the narrative significance of first-person plural style in Acts is. In so doing, I analyze the characterization of the narrator in this particular story and how readers use point of view (or perspective) to construct this character.

William Sanger Campbell (Ph.D. – Princeton Theological Seminary)
Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
The College of St. Scholastica
Duluth, MN


photo - wally.cirafesiI am Associate Editor of the journal Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics and the author of the book Verbal Aspect in Synoptic Parallels (Brill 2013). I have also published articles on a range of topics related to the New Testament in journals such as New Testament Studies, Novum Testamentum, Filología Neotestamentaria, Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, Journal for the Study of Paul and his Letters, Currents in Biblical Research, and Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics.

Wally V. Cirafesi (Ph.D. candidate – McMaster Divinity College)
Hamilton, ON


photo - ConwayI am currently doing post-doctoral research and co-authoring a commentary on Judges with Mark J. Boda. My interest in point of view developed from my doctoral work in Judges. My dissertation consisted of a linguistic-literary analysis of the Old Testament book of Judges which proposed a new methodology for determining the perspective and evaluative stance of the characters, the narrator, and the implied author. It is entitled “The ‘New Perspective’ on Appraisal: Evaluation in the Book of Judges as Revealed by the Narrative Appraisal Model.” This study adapted Appraisal Theory for Hebrew narrative and incorporated the literary concept of narrative perspective into the model.

Mary L. Conway (Ph.D. – McMaster Divinity College)
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
McMaster Divinity College
Hamilton, ON


Copier photoI am an assistant professor in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. My dissertation, published by Sheffield Phoenix Press, is entitled “Preposterous Revelations: Visions of Apocalypse and Martyrdom in Hollywood Cinema 1980 – 2000” which analyzes the divergent popular representations of the Apocalypse, in image as well as in words, in contemporary Hollywood cinema.

Laura Copier (Ph.D. – Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis)
Assistant Professor of Media Studies
University of Amsterdam


Zach_Dawson_PictureMy current research includes linguistic analyses of New Testament Greek and Biblical Hebrew. I am particularly focused in social theory of discourse, appropriating Bakhtinian dialogism and Gramscian hegemony to New Testament texts through the construction of linguistic models of Greek grammar. Some of my work has been brought to bear in an article on ideology and discourse in a forthcoming edited volume by Stanley E. Porter, Gregory P. Fewster, and Christopher D. Land. My interest in perspective criticism as a method is rooted in its ability to get at the ideological inner workings of narrative texts while displaying a compatibility with modern linguistics.

Zachary K. Dawson (M.A. student in Biblical Languages – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Wake Forest, NC


headshot_Aug2012_smIn my doctoral work, I specialized in Hellenistic Greek and Linguistics, and one of my research interests is the application of modern linguistics and discourse analysis to the study of ancient and biblical Greek grammar. Recently, this has taken the form of bringing Appraisal Theory’s focus on linguistics being used to express positive or negative evaluation alongside point of view’s ability to do so.

James D. Dvorak (Ph.D. – McMaster Divinity College)
Associate Professor of New Testament
Oklahoma Christian University
Edmond, OK


Head Shot 3 (08.09)Point of view, perspective, and focalization are fascinating aspects of narrative discourse. I am particularly interested in the ways they intersect with aspects of narrator, characters and characterization, ideology, implied author, and implied reader. My work centers primarily on New Testament literature, ancient novels, and representations of Jesus in comics, graphic novels, and contemporary fiction. I’m currently writing on instances of self-narration in the Pauline letters and a commentary on Philippians that approaches the letter from a narratological standpoint. It will be interesting, I think, to see whether or to what extent perspective criticism can be fruitfully brought to bear in my analysis of material that is not narrative in the traditional sense.

Scott S. Elliott (Ph.D. – Drew University)
Department of Philosophy and Religion
Adrian College
Adrian, MI


landy photo - croppedI am Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, and my area is Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies.  I have published books on the Song of Songs, Hosea, and a collection of essays entitled Beauty and the Enigma, and am at work on an interminable book on Isaiah.  I have a wife, a son, and assorted animals.

Francis Landy (Ph.D. – University of Sussex)
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB


55ed41c336My interest in biblical narrative began after being introduced to Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative (1981), at that time a relatively recent publication, in a graduate class at Drew University.  Since then, that interest has grown as I taught classes on Hebrew narrative, wrote a commentary on 1 & 2 Kings (College Press 2002), and published a few articles on narrative texts from a literary perspective (e.g., JBL 126:1 [2007]; Stone-Campbell Journal 15:1 [2012]). This interest has been encouraged with Gary Yamasaki’s important work on Perspective Criticism.

Jesse Long Jr. (Ph.D. – Drew University)
Dean, College of Biblical Studies and Behavioural Sciences
Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Archaeology
Lubbock Christian University
Lubbock, TX


Miceli photoMy interest in the narrative-critical study of biblical texts began with research for my M.A. thesis entitled, Undressing Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: A Narrative-Critical Analysis of the Clothing of the Character of Jesus (defended 2011). Since then I have published several research articles related to narrative criticism and the New Testament, particularly the gospels, in peer reviewed academic journals. Recently, I have begun to apply the approach to apocryphal Christian literature such as the Gospel According to Thomas.

Calogero A. Miceli (Ph.D. candidate – Concordia University)
Montreal, QC


image1I am the minister for the King Street Church of Christ in Beaufort, South Carolina, and a Doctor of Ministry student at Lipscomb University. I was introduced to perspective criticism during a narrative criticism course taught by Dr. Jesse Long Jr. I am particularly interested in how point of view can inform homiletics.

Bryan Nash (D.Min. candidate – Lipscomb University)
Beaufort, SC


DSC00841 (640x480) (2)

My interest in viewpoint arises from research on Graeco-Roman literary modes of representation in the New Testament (narrative, epistolary, apocalyptic, etc.) and discourse temporality in Hellenistic Greek. My current project (dissertation research) is exploring ancient Greek theories of cognition, viewpoint, and discourse temporality. My hope is to use this research to formulate a new model of discourse temporality for NT Greek.

Jeffrey Reber (Ph.D. candidate – McMaster Divinity College)
Hamilton, ON


Seaman photo

I am a former Assistant Professor of NT and Greek at Puget Sound Christian College and a former congregational Worship Leader. For the past three years I have been researching Mark’s Gospel as a performance piece, and have translated, blocked, and now perform my own version of the entire Gospel.

Leon Seaman (MAR – Emmanuel School of Religion)
Biblical Storyteller
Seattle WA


tannehill photo - cropped - 2I was an early contributor to the application of narrative criticism to the Gospels and Acts. My major work is The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A Literary Interpretation (2 vols.; 1986, 1990). Before studying narrative, I wrote The Sword of His Mouth: Forceful and Imaginative Language in Synoptic Sayings (1975; reprint 2003), arguing for the special power and purpose of this type of language in sayings attributed to Jesus.

Robert C. Tannehill (Ph.D. – Yale University)
Professor of New Testament, Emeritus
Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Delaware, OH


photo-1I am interested in how biblical texts mean, not just what they mean. I believe that style and rhetoric do not adorn or decorate the message of a biblical text, as if they are add-ons to make its message more interesting. On the contrary, style and rhetoric drive the text at its core. So my research focuses on the aesthetics of biblical literature: New Testament poetry, perspective criticism, and literary and critical theory (currently the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari). My dissertation analyzes the bilingual poetics of Acts of the Apostles (Acts 4:23-31). I have recently published an article on the use of perspective in Acts of the Apostles and Paul (“From the Acts of the Apostles to Paul: Shaking Off the Muffled Majesty of Impersonal Authorship” in Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul, SBL). I am currently completing an article on the poetry of Acts of the Apostles (“Promising Places Having Neither Promise Nor Place”).

Matthew G. Whitlock (Ph.D. – The Catholic University of America)
Assistant Professor of New Testament
Seattle University
Seattle, WA



Phil Ruge-Jones (Ph.D. – Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago)
Associate Professor of Theology
Texas Lutheran University
Seguin, TX

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