jacob-wright.jpgJacob L. Wright, associate professor of Hebrew Bible, is taking his scholarship to the public through his perspective on the new Hollywood film “Noah,” a discussion group that studies prophets of the Bible, and a free online course on the purpose of the Bible.

Interpreting a Flood of Controversy

Emory’s video series “Emory Looks at Hollywood” tapped Wright to offer insights into the new Paramount Pictures film “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe as the ark-building character from the Bible. The film has drawn criticism from some who say Hollywood took too many liberties in interpreting the biblical story for the silver screen. Wright disagrees.

In the video, he explores the larger context of the flood narrative—its origins and various interpretations—noting its appearance in multiple iterations in ancient cultures. Watch the video on Emory News Center: bit.ly/1l3ASRK

Wright more fully engages “Noah” in Sacred Matters, a web magazine of public scholarship on religion and culture that invited Wright to provide deeper context for the film in light of public criticism.

In Sacred Matters, Wright says that his aim in the “Emory Looks at Hollywood” video was not to offer a review of “Noah,” but to challenge the vocal criticism of the film by those who say it veers too far from the story as it is told in the book of Genesis. “I claim that it’s perfectly legitimate for the film’s creators to embellish the biblical story and to take it in new directions,” he writes.

Why? “For one, such conscious, creative reworking is indispensable to good art,” Wright explains. “Additionally, the biblical authors and those that follow in their wake are themselves reworking inherited tradition.”

Read more of Wright’s response in Sacred Matters: bit.ly/1kY7kcF

Bible Study Series on the Prophets

Wright also is taking scholarship to the masses via adult education, assisting Decatur First United Methodist Church in designing a course on the prophets of the Bible. “The Prophets—Then and Now” will run May 4–June 29, using theologian Walter Brueggemann’s six-part DVD series, “Embracing the Prophets in Contemporary Culture,” as a guide. Wright will teach the session on Jeremiah on May 11, 2014 at 9:45 a.m. in room 305 of the church. The series is free and open to the public.

MOOC Exploring Bible as “Road Map to a Brighter Future”

Beginning May 26, Wright will lead a seven-week exploration into the purpose of the Bible through a massive open online course (MOOC) offered by Coursera, an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer online courses that are available to all. Wright’s course, The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future,” is one of Coursera’s first MOOCs focused on religion.

The course will cover how and why the Bible was written, and how that process impacts contemporary questions of politics, economics, and theology. Drawing on the latest archeological research and a wide range of comparative texts, Wright will synthesize recent research in biblical studies to present a powerful new thesis: Facing catastrophic defeat, the biblical authors created a new form of community—what today we would call "peoplehood. 

Read Wright’s introduction of the course on Bible History Daily: bit.ly/1p7BnAB

Read more about the course and register: bit.ly/QnKAom