Gregory Mobley brings a highly original eye to the familiar stories found in Judges, which depict Israel’s frontier era, and in First and Second Samuel, which portray the ragged and violent emergence of kingship in Judah and Israel. Mobley draws upon Semitic and European heroic traditions about warriors and wild men, and upon Celtic, Anglo-American, and African-American balladry about borderers and outlaws, to dig out the heroic themes submerged in biblical adventure stories.
The Empty Men describes the process by which adventure stories—replete with foolish love, warfare, assassinations, ritual slaughter, and grim masculine codes—were transformed into sermons and history lessons. Mobley also offers reflections on the Iron Age theology of these narratives, with their emphasis on poetic justice, and on the mythic dimensions of landscape in these stories. Mobley is sure to attract much attention in the scholarly community for his raw portrayals of biblical heroes, for his unblinking attention to the martial codes and the warrior subculture of ancient Israel, and for his bittersweet reflections on the theological and ethical significance of this corpus of adventure stories that are under the surface—but close to the bedrock—of the many mansions that Judaism and Christianity have built in subsequent centuries on these foundational texts.
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If you like this title be sure to check out the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library (29 vols.).
Biblical texts that go down and dirty in narrative imagination are often squeezed out among us between high theology and humorless historical criticism. Greg Mobley knows how to do theology and is erudite about critical matters. In this book, however, he stays focused on the odd social misfits featured in the Book of Judges in its tales of daring and adventure.
—Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
Gregory Mobley has written a lively book full of adventure and challenge. It offers the skill and artistry of a seasoned storyteller, the tenacity of a mature scholar, and the honesty and play of an astute interpreter. My counsel to the reader is to enjoy the author's many gifts while pondering the violence of an ancient world that is eerily contemporary.
—Phyllis Trible, Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature, Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary
In The Empty Men, Greg Mobley offers us close and nuanced readings of some of the most neglected—and sometimes some of the most maligned—stories of the Hebrew Bible, the stories of the great heroes of the days of the Judges, especially Ehud, Gideon, and Samson. A must-read for both students of Judges and of the heroic traditions of the ancient world, as well as for those who just appreciate a good adventure story!
—Susan Ackerman, Professor of Religion and Women's and Gender Studies, Dartmouth College