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What Hath Sunnydale to Do with Jerusalem?

Ronald Helfrich has written an intriguing essay comparing and contrasting Biblical Studies with Buffy Studies: “Note to Self, Religion Freaky”: When Buffy Met Biblical Studies.

I’ll admit I know very little about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I am quite familiar with the kinds of “crystal ball textualism” Helfrich describes. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with him that the field of Biblical Studies is as immune to this tendency and he seems to think.

This is a fascinating essay about hermeneutics, among other things. I commend it to you.



  1. Ron Helfrich says:

    My point was not that Biblical criticism is superior to Buffy crystal ball criticism. My point in the paper is that unlike Buffy crystal ball textualism in general, which is heavily text centred, Biblical criticism does engage in extra textual analysis on occasion, archaeology and empirical research on urbanism and writing, for instance.

    To move from Buffy to the history of Biblical criticism (which was not central to my paper) let me make one point: The JEPD hypothesis and the Q hypothesis are purely textual like so much Buffy textual criticism. There is not, as far as I know, any extra-textual empirical evidence for either hypothesis. Personally, I prefer to think less of documents and more of oral tales when it comes to the composition of the Torah text. On the other hand: One thing the JEPD hypothesis has going for it is that it does make sense of the numerous doublings in the Tanakh (the two creation stories, for instance).

    A sociology of knowledge point: perceptions of the Biblical text, be they those of “higher” biblical critics or fundamentalists, tell us perhaps more about cultural life and ideologies in the 19th and 20th West than the ancient contexts of the Tanakh/Bible. Higher Biblical criticism certainly tells us much about the impact of Darwinian notions of evolution on Western intellectual culture.

    By the way my specialty is modern comparative history and Settler society history not Biblical Studies.


  2. Ronald Helfrich says:

    thanks, by the way, for your kind words…


  3. Darrell Pursiful says:

    And thank you for such a stimulating article.


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