Bible books theology

2024 Grawemeyer Award in Religion

I am incredibly honored to receive the 2024 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. It is a particularly significant honor for me because the previous recipients of the Grawemeyer have inspired and shaped my theological life through their imaginative and boundary pushing work. 

When I was a high school student growing up in Austin, Texas I dreamed of becoming a scholar of religion. At many points I doubted whether I had the ability to do it. I remember looking at the first winner of the Grawemeyer, E.P. Sanders—a fellow Texan—who shifted the study of the New Testament, and thinking that maybe I too could join The Great Conversation. 

The Grawemeyer winners that came after him are scholars whose books have set the standard of writing I have aspired to. Their ideas have changed my religious imaginary and formed the ways I move through the world. I never expected to win the Grawemeyer, but I am so appreciative of this recognition for A Human-Shaped God.

There are so many people I’d like to thank who made this work possible. In particular, my wife, Lori, who supported and encouraged me and this book in all ways. Daniel Braden, my editor at WJK, who believed in this book from the beginning and helped bring it to the world. And, all the folks at Louisville Seminary, the University of Louisville, and the Grawemeyer Award who read this book as part of this process.

Bible theology

On the Perpetual Strangeness of the Bible

I love the title of Michael Edwards’ newest book. (Well, it probably is a tie because he has another book that also came out in 2023–The Bible and Poetry, you can read an excerpt here.) On the Perpetual Strangeness of the Bible. Edwards encourages us to cultivate a sense of the Bible’s otherness as we read it.

On the Perpetual Strangeness of the Bible by Michael Edwards

He comes at this from his understanding of it as divine revelation. In his mind, this makes the Bible is unlike any other book and reading strategies should be formulated and applied accordingly.

I too try to cultivate a sense of the Bible’s otherness as I read it, but I do so from a slightly different angle. The Bible is linguistically and culturally different from anyone living today. Therefore, all of our readings and interpretations have varying degrees of separation from how people in the ancient world received these writings. This should cause us to hold our interpretations of the Bible lightly and with an eagerness to change them based on new information or new insights.

If our interpretations are static, we are essentially denying the strangeness of the Bible. We imply that we understand it encyclopedically and authoritatively.

I think a better approach is to keep the Bible strange. Or, like the slogan from my hometown–Keep Austin Weird–the Bible should  try to keep the Bible weird as we read it.