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This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies
Hector Avalos, Sarah J. Melcher, Jeremy Schipper
SemeiaSt 55
Publication Date
November 2007


The burgeoning field of disability studies has recently emerged within the humanities and social sciences and, as a result, disability is no longer seen as the biological condition of an individual body but as a complex product of social, political, environmental, and biological discourses. The groundbreaking essays of This Abled Body engage biblical studies in conversation with the wider field of disability studies. They explore the use of the conceptual category “disability” in biblical and Near Eastern texts and examine how conceptions of disability become a means of narrating, interpreting, and organizing human life. Employing diverse approaches to biblical criticism, scholars explore methodological issues and specific texts related to physical and cognitive disabilities. Responses to the essays by established disability activists and academics working in the social sciences and humanities conclude the volume. The contributors are Martin Albl, Hector Avalos, Bruce C. Birch, Carole R. Fontaine, Thomas Hentrich, Nicole Kelley, Janet Lees, Sarah J. Melcher, David Mitchell, Jeremy Schipper, Sharon Snyder, Holly Joan Toensing, Neal H. Walls, and Kerry H. Wynn.

Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He is the author of The End of Biblical Studies and Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (both from Prometheus) and Strangers in Our Own Land: Religion in U.S. Latina/o Literature (Abingdon). Sarah J. Melcher is Associate Professor of Hebrew Scriptures and Co-Director of the Ethics/Religion and Society Program at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jeremy Schipper is a Lecturer in Hebrew Bible at Temple University and an affiliated faculty member of Temple’s Institute on Disabilities. He is the author of Disability Studies and the Hebrew Bible: Figuring Mephibosheth in the David Story (T&T Clark).


“This volume is a solid foundation for continuing interdisciplinary conversations to build upon. It challenges the ‘mainstream’ to think in alternative ways and unveils how biblical texts have, both positively and negatively, influenced contemporary assumptions about embodiment.”
— Louise J. Lawrence, Journal for the Study of the New Testament