Dr. Heather Macumber, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Providence University College recently released a new book, Recovering the Monstrous in Revelation.
This 212-page book gives readers a look into Monster Theory, specifically exploring the book of Revelation with all its apocalyptic creatures.
"I had been working on angels in my doctoral work and had done a lot of work on different types of angels. I was interested in the ways that, especially in a book like Ezekiel and Zachariah, that angels speak to humans, usually to help them interpret really strange visions and dreams," Dr. Macumber explains. "I was very interested in the way that heaven and earth tend to intersect in these prophetic visions."
"I ended up doing a little more work in it, getting into the book of Daniel, which the visions just get stranger and stranger as you get into these apocalyptic books. I wrote an article about it and I was eventually introduced to Monster Theory."
Explaining that Monster Theory can be used as an academic tool, Macumber cites Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, author of “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” and says, “Cohen’s central argument is that we can read a culture by the monsters it produces. The monsters reveal a culture’s fears and anxieties, their biases and prejudices.” This can be applied to the Old Testament as we look at the Israelites during their times of crisis, and their conflicts with empires. She says the examination of the monstrous is also useful as it is applied to the New Testament and the book of Revelation.
Dr. Macumber says her book challenges readers to acknowledge their biases as they approach scripture and to go deeper into the text.
“I hope readers become aware of their own bias as they enter into biblical text; that they’ll start thinking from another perspective. I want them to come away with the idea that the monster (or cosmic creature) doesn’t have to be evil, but rather wondrous or fantastic. This will help our understanding of how God is at work in the world.”
Today on Connections, Dr. Macumber discusses Monster Theory and the inspiration behind her book.