Embodied Performance presents a methodology by which performer-interpreters can bring their intuitive interpretations to the scholarly conversations about biblical compositions. It may not be comfortable, for scholarship is out of practice in listening to emotion and intuition. It may not be the only way to bring the fullness of human meaning-making into scholarly discussions. It is a beginning, as Sarah Agnew, storyteller and scholar, places herself as the subject and object under examination, observing her practice as a biblical storyteller making meaning through embodied performance, and develops a coherent method rigorously tested with an Embodied Performance Analysis of Romans. Follow Sarah’s story as she searches within Biblical Performance Criticism for such a method, before determining the need to strike out in a new direction from within an already innovative field. All biblical scholars are complex human beings, making meaning through their embodiment, their emotions, their embeddedness in community. Embodied Performance Analysis offers a way to attend to and incorporate the full range of human meaning-making in our engagement with biblical compositions, for richer discussion closer to the intent of the compositions themselves.
“Stop and think: when we interpret the body of texts that we claim as Scripture, we do it as embodied beings in the company of the bodies of people who make our communities of faith what they are: old bodies and young, women and men, Black bodies and others. Sarah Agnew offers us a mode of interpretation that takes all of these bodies seriously. This is a great gift.”
—Richard W. Swanson, Director of the Provoking the Gospel Storytelling Project
“Sarah Agnew’s work is truly interdisciplinary. It engages with, and effectively introduces, traditional biblical scholarship on the Epistle to the Romans, narrative criticism of the Bible, and theatre studies on the relationship between the audience, the performer, and the text. The book weaves these themes, and many others, into a highly engaging and personal story of discovery of importance to anyone who takes the Bible seriously and wants to understand it better. Her perspective as performer-interpreter, and her development of ‘Embodied Performance Analysis,’ offers significant insights for biblical scholars and church people alike.”
—Alison Jack, Senior Lecturer in Bible and Literature, Assistant Principal of New College, University of Edinburgh
“In this pioneering and multifaceted book, Sarah Agnew has developed an embodied performance methodology that builds on the foundations laid by biblical performance criticism in new and highly creative ways. As a published poet, biblical storyteller, and experienced performer, she has explored in detail the implications of the full employment of the body in interaction with audiences as a means of communicating the impact of biblical compositions. Her articulation of ‘Biblical Performance Analysis’ opens new doors into the world of critical engagement with biblical traditions then and now. The exposition of Romans as a test case reveals the passionate encounter that Paul seeks with the Roman community culminating in an invitation to mutual embrace. The embodied performance of Romans sets the theological arguments of the letter in the context of the emotional interactions within a highly diverse community who are invited to share the Holy One’s love in their profound differences.”
—Thomas E. Boomershine, Founder of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, International, and author of The Messiah of Peace: A Performance Criticism Commentary on Mark’s Passion-Resurrection Narrative