Bible and SFF

LONCON3_logoEmma England Moderator

Matthew A Collins—senior lecturer in Bible and Judaism at U of Checeister—look at Dead Sea Scrolls, way in which Bible is used in culture, biblical literacy
Chris Meredith—lecturer in Bible and critical theory—U of Winchester—literary genres tied to biblical readings, how biblical texts impact culture—one of particular areas (in addition to sexuality, identity, body) biblical worlds (space and spatial realities), long time sff fan, ways in which sf stages world similarly to Bible
Hugh Pyper—prof of biblical interpretation –Bible as cultural artifact, interesting things as sff fan and intersections between them
Frauke Uhlenbruch—editor in theology and religion dept, working on Bible and understanding—PhD Bible as dystopian and utopian, Bible as alien artifact that we can read and understand

Frauke—recently wrote at biblical episode about spies to explore Promised Land, how can be read as a Star Trek episode—not a perfect parallel
10 who said “can’t enter” = red shirts
fear of being eaten and assimilated by strangers (borg)

Matt—biblical literacy book, 100 years ago people knew the Bible inside out, lots of arguments, book which is coming out (lots of contributions, including Chris)
addressing and questioning to what extent biblical literacy is in decline
how does it get used in transmedia—appropriated—what was this called in the last panel?
looked at Lost, lots of biblical imagery, allusions, appearing throughout—episode names, stuff that isn’t pointed out to you
developed lots of following, folks analyzing minutiae in the shows
lots of people were picking up the implicit allusions because of the explicit allusions, they were reading it into it (even if folks didn’t mean it when they created it)
encouraging biblical literacy

Miniatore_di_S_Alessio_in_Bigiano_-_Leaf_from_Bentivoglio_Bible_-_Walters_1270 WC CCHugh—sff often viewed as the poorer brother
like literature to STEM
trying to use one as the leaven for the other
theme I am looking at right now, tardis as temple –all ideologies need a space, looking at how temple spaces collapse a particular kind of world into a small amenable world—trying to interrogate how the tardis is functioning in the resurgence of Doctor Who AND how tardis is used throughout the franchise
other thing enjoyed doing—feet of clay and the golem figure, body animated, corpse/corpus, sacred abroad… how you engage with that in a developing thought system
how fertile and febrile some of these things can be seen
see Bible as where our cultural discourse is happening

Chris—Will Selfe’s Book of Dave, misreading of a taxi driver’s journal buried in his back yard…
thinking about the ways the Bible has been used, misused, re-used
written on that
want to expand that—whole concept of revelation, what on earth can that mean in a contemporary or futuristic world
many sff writers have dealt with, looking at Ian M Banks and Accession
—-various races of cultural world, bring judgment onto themselves by responding to this enigmatic thing that comes into the world
What is this thing that comes into your world? Bible is everywhere. What is it doing? I never quite get an answer yet. Banks is an interesting writer to use for this. Along Dawkins side.
literary unsung –Stanis xxx Lem, great figure, His Master’s Voice (HMV) gamma rays—message or not? discover ways of interpreting it that can bring a sort of life
Lem, in the course of that novel, is really thinking through what revelation might be and what it could be and how it could be detected and confirmed

lack of awareness about what biblical scholars do
introduced how sff and Bible, so how would apply sff to biblical texts?

Miniatore_di_S_Alessio_in_Bigiano_-_Leaf_from_Bentivoglio_Bible_-_Walters_W151232V_-1270 WC CCjpgFrauke—used Lem a lot to look at biblical scholars, he likes to invent these disciplines. Solaris. Solaristics, what solarists do and how many libraries they bring—a little like we are doing solaristics, not getting to core
looking at Ezekiel, sff folk think alien intelligence
“have a new heart and a new soul”
reading commentaries on Ezekiel
then reading a lot of material about transhumanism
looking at Ezekiel to apply to biblical scholarship
but looking at transhumanism to see what it does

Matt—Bible can be viewed as being the sff 2000 years ago
same sort of things occurring in Bible
people rising from dead, regeneration (not zombies, despite what he said)
monsters
bizarre beings
performing the same role, perhaps, as sff

Hugh—do you think they peform same role?
genesis, creation
golem figures made from dust, heterotopia
then you have Odin, father of masturbators (Charles Kellogg wrote whole treatise on Odin whilst on honeymoon)
Sodom as fantastical novel, homosexual world and wipe it off planet, and have a reset
Do you think that sf now does that same job of legitimization?

Matt—I don’t know.
same sorts of things, ideas, that the fantastical in sff “we get” from sff, we find in sff
I would say we find them in sff BECAUSE they are in the Bible.
think the monsters are there

Chris—fascinating things for me is what books say about books
reading
look at OT, nobody in Bible ever reads the Bible
find where they read anything
they don’t read and they don’t write, don’t spend a lot of time
Bible has odd attitude to circumstances of its production.
Just b/c reading Banks Hydrogen Sonata—this particular culture has this book, as science advances the book appears more and more accurate—talks about new argument about theism—old medieval notion about Bible and the book of Nature, what we are learning now is to read the book of nature well, at the expense of reading the Bible
some things going on in whole genre, alternative book/world to read
always a world that is being written to be read

Bible of Wencelaus Noah ark WC pdQuestion:
examples of places where people read texts

Chris—got to the end of your fingers, there aren’t that many considering that the people in the Bible knew how to write and were concerned about writing
Not saying it never occurs. Just saying you have to look for it.
but you get genre where people are arguing about reading books in the book

Question:
Jewish, OT is counterculture text, specifically against beliefs in area—now it is the constant of main culture and sff is sort of counterculture—can you connect those two things?

Bible of Wencelaus entire page WC pd 1389Frauke: looking at Abraham to sacrifice his son, lot of negotiation in this text
us against them
we don’t do it that way
They are not our friends.
but you get cracks—near sacrifice of Isaac, crack it open, quite rebellious
idea of Abraham being obedient… seems outrageous (but was very common in the culture)
read Testament graphic novel and text Open Source Democracy
flip the story around, becomes a story about rebellion and written from perspective of Isaac
biblical scholarship becomes open source Bible

Question:
obedience, recently did paper on new Noah film—made OT more savage
director uses fantasy tropes to negotiate and support story, and obedience again
Matt:
Spoilers—there is a lot of rain. Everyone dies.
Noah firmly believes that the human race is supposed to be wiped out. His job to save animals, but not people.
When he finds out his DIL is pregnant decides he should kill his DIL or the babies.
use of fantastical—rock giants, kind of there (Genesis 6—the watchers and the Nephilim, at the time there were giants on the earth)
takes flood story from Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilee—fallen angels sleep with human women and giants are born
in the movie, the rock giants are the fallen angels
Noah does seem to think that God is telling him to kill these children. Quite problematic how it is dealt with.
Resolution of this is that Noah decides he can’t murder them. Thinks that in doing so he has disobeyed God, which is what leads him to getting drunk after the flood.
His family is upset that he was wandering around the ark with a knife planning to murder them.

Bible of Winchester 12thC initial D and bear WC pdHugh:
biblical excrementia –how Bible gets turned into shit in popular culture
issue of reading
What I think Aaronski is doing, is retelling biblical text but to have tension has to have Noah as a fundamental—solid communicative message that has to be answered.
Calls contemporary use of the text into question—what the notion
building in a kind of internal biblical impetus

Jesus is not reading the Bible.
eunuch is not reading the Bible
text is reading itself being misread

Matt:
God is entirely absent in the film.
all characters are asking God for a sign and they aren’t getting it
We don’t have direct text from the film of God.
Wakes up and feels he needs to kill the children.
Whole theme of obedience and God in the film is … undermined.

asp turtle? bestiary bible imageQuestion:
comparison to natural stories of Bible and sff?
what difference does it make if you are making theoretical speculation?

Frauke:
preternatural—what is not yet explained by science
like to look at sff where you encounter situations that you don’t understand
sff and Bible have in common—difficult to imagine the unimaginable
zone where laws of physics are bent, but you don’t know why
Bible is imagining the deity, but we don’t know why
how do we as a society write the unthinkable?

Chris:
thinks of story little girl to the airport and airplane takes off, how does the plane fly? the little girl says pilot, going fast, finally—magic
what differentiates us in life is at what point you say magic

one of things in biblical text, Noah text, the Watchers all that fantastical material is there in other fantastical ancient
there in Enoch, etc
Genesis 1 doesn’t contain these other conscious beings… small light, big light—not naming because the names have been used as gods, so they aren’t gods; they are made things
not magic all the way down

God-Architect frontispiece of Bible Moralisee mid-13th C France WC pdBook of Genesis way of saying not magic all the way down
to locate it all in one divine act
that’s just another stage “it’s magic—God did it”
but it is a different stage from other ancient cultures
in that very text that becomes the scientific Western culture, already a push to move away from animism or little gods fighting—gone beyond that, at least

Hugh:
different fundamental laws in different texts
Song of Songs, immaterial or unnamed magic—AiW
no real impetus behind the magic, is it a dream?

Question:
interpretation of who is God? talked about Noah in movie not having voice of God? Want to cite Star Trek: TNG omnipotent Q implies to Jean Luc Picard that he is God, Picard shouts “You are not god!” None of Bible heroic figures do that…

Hugh:
tricky one… where I would go to think about it is to Q-like prophets. King in Jerusalem and Jeremiah or Elijah.
Elijah as a Q figure.
Elijah and Elisha are wonderfully subversive.

Manuscript_European_Bible_Ottheinrich_15th_Century p488 ebay bc of age pdFrauke:
Q Who episode… puts them in the Delta Quadrant… to demonstrate they are not as strong as the borg
can be found biblical parallels
maybe the flood–would add the Israelites in the desert

Chris:
whole plot line of the gospels, someone claiming to be god, that claim being disputed and still is
That story isn’t closed. (as Heather Urbanski used it)
people do go back to that kind of moment and ask how we could know. What would make it true for us? culturally mediated
God as God.
Job does that. Job is in an argument with that.
Can’t get the direct communication.
One of the hearts of the contemporary discontent = if you are there, why not make it more obvious?
Bertrand Russell, if show up in Heaven and there is a god, what would you ask. “Why did you make the evidence of your existence so limited?”

Frauke:
ST:TNG might be that ST franchise doesn’t want God in the worldbuilding.

1611 KJV 1st ed She geneologies ebayQuestion:
ST: Deep Space 9
Bajorans think of them as gods.
Cisco sees them as aliens.
Cisco eventually starts to get the spiritual element to it later.

Matt:
Stargate: SG1 or original film, all these aliens who are the origins of all the mythological gods
rationalization of some of this stuff
religion and belief, divine figures, just people with abilities we don’t have
to attempt to answer your question—Once you have the explanation, do you ever still accept the spiritual?
21C we know the explanations—like evolution—nevertheless there are those who continue to accept spiritual explanations

Hugh:
in ST: DS9, race—Feringi and Jewish business man
occupation of Canaan, who are innate Canaanites?
Cardassians, Bajorans, Starfleet?
what conquest texts are hoping for
how religion is featuring in a trans-national

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