Beal, Timothy K. 1963–
Beal, Timothy K. 1963–
(Timothy Kandler Beal)
PERSONAL: Born 1963, in Hood River, OR; married Clover Reuter (a Presbyterian minister); children: Sophie, Seth. Education: Seattle Pacific University, B.A., 1986; Columbia Theological Seminary, M.Div, 1991; Emory University, certificate in women's studies and Ph.D., 1995. Hobbies and other interests: Travel.
CAREER: Professor and writer. Emory University, Atlanta, GA, teaching assistant, 1993; archaeological excavation at Tell Nimrin, Jordan, assistant site director, 1993; Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA, adjunct professor in Hebrew exegesis, 1993–94; Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL, assistant professor of religious studies and adjunct faculty member in women's and gender studies and environmental studies, 1994–99; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, Harkness associate professor of Biblical literature, 1999–2002, Harkness professor of Biblical literature, 2002–04, then Florence Harkness professor of religion, 2004–, associate director, 2002–03, then director, 2003–, of Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. University of Glasgow, honorary lecturer at Centre for the Study of Literature, Theology, and the Arts, 1997. Lecturer; co-director (with Tod Linafelt) of Bible and Pop Culture: A Multimedia CD-ROM Project for Teaching in Biblical Studies.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow, Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education, 1996–98; senior faculty fellow, Case Western Reserve University/Ohio Board of Regents Challenge Program, 2001; Professor of the Year Award, Alphi Phi, Case Western Reserve University chapter, 2000–01; Award for Teaching Excellence, Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, 2004; grant, Presidential Initiative Fund.
The Book of Hiding: Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation, and Esther, Routledge (New York, NY), 1997.
(Editor, with David M. Gunn) Reading Bibles, Writing Bodies: Identity and the Book, Routledge (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Tod A. Linafelt) God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.
(With Tod A. Linafelt) Ruth and Esther, edited by David W. Cotter, Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN), 1999.
Religion and Its Monsters, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.
(With William E. Deal) Theory for Religious Studies, Routledge (New York, NY), 2004.
Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith (memoir), Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Church Divinity, Biblical Interpretation, Semeia, Chronicle of Higher Education, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hedgehog Review, and Washington Post. Contributor to books, including Reading between the Texts: Intertexuality and the Hebrew Bible, edited by Danna Nolan Fewell, Westminster/John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1992; The Feminist Companion to Esther, Judith, and Susanna, edited by Athalya Brenner, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England), 1995; The Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 2, edited by John H. Hayes, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1998; The Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 1, edited by Hayes, Abingdon, 1999; Imag(in)ing Otherness: Filmic Visions of Living Together, edited by David Jaspar and S. Brent Plate, American Academy of Religion/Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1999; Handbook for Postmodern Biblical Interpretation, edited by Andrew K.M. Adam, Chalice (St. Louis, MO), 2000; Strange Fire: Reading the Hebrew Bible after the Holocaust, edited by Tod Linafelt, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000; Professing in the Postmodern Academy: Faculty and the Future of Church-Related Colleges, edited by Stephen R. Hayenes, Baylor University Press (Waco, TX), 2002; A Shadow of Glory: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust, edited by Linafelt, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002; Constructs of Ancient Israel: The Bible and Its Social Worlds, edited by David M. Gunn and Paula McNutt, Continuum (New York, NY), 2002; Relating to the Text: Form Critical and Interdisciplinary Insights on the Bible, edited by T. Sandoval and C. Mandolfo, Continuum (Sheffield, England), 2003; Derrida and Religion: Other Testaments, edited by Kevin Hart and Yvonne Sherwood, Routledge, 2004; Sanctified Aggression: Violent Legacies of Biblical, Jewish, and Christian Vocabularies, edited by Jonneke Bekkenkamp and Yvonne Sherwood, Continuum (Sheffield, England), 2004; Levianas and Biblical Studies, edited by Tamara Eskenazi and Gary A.
Phillips, Society of Biblical Literature (Atlanta, GA), 2004; and Renovare Study Bible, edited by Richard Foster, Walter Brueggemann, and Eugene Peterson, Harper San Francisco (San Francisco, CA), 2005. Coeditor, with Linafelt, Afterlives of the Bible, University of Chicago Press, 2003–; editorial assistant, Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation, Westminster John Knox Press, 1991–94. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, member of editorial board, 2000–; Postscripts, member of editorial board, 2004–.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The White Supremacist Bible.
SIDELIGHTS: A professor of religion, Timothy K. Beal has written and edited books on the Bible, Biblical issues, and religion in general. As a professor, he has also taught on similar topics. His primary classes include Biblical studies, the theory and methodology of religious studies, and related issues.
One of Beal's first books is on the Old Testament's book of Esther. Titled The Book of Hiding: Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation, and Esther, the work analyzes and interprets the text using postmodern critical theory. Beal uses a literary approach and looks at the Masoretic text, rather than the more common Greek text, of Esther. Sidnie White Crawford, writing in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, acknowledged that Beal's reading of Esther in The Book of Hiding might have limited appeal to readers, but noted: "Beal, nevertheless, is bridging the gap between postmodern theory and biblical scholarship. His approach promises to yield fresh new insights into the biblical text."
Several years later, Beal cowrote another work on Esther with Tod Linafelt. For Ruth and Esther Beal wrote the commentary on the book of Esther while Linafelt commented on the book of Ruth. In his section, Beal offers a literary analysis and interpretation of the Old Testament book, again using the Masoretic text. He highlights themes of Esther such as hiding and writing, and studies the artistic qualities of the text.
Writing in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Linda Day felt that the authors should have written a joint introduction to bring together Ruth and Esther thematically. However, Day commented positively on Beal's contribution, stating that his "analysis is gener-ally sound, and the lenses through which he views the story are well chosen. He is not afraid to point out the strangeness of the Scroll and the complexities within it." Interpretation contributor Joan E. Cook voiced a similar opinion, calling the book "an informative and insightful discussion of the literary and theological features of the book of Esther."
Beal's work also explores other issues related to the Bible and religion. One book discusses where religion and popular culture meet. In Religion and Its Monsters, he offers a theory about what monsters are, why people like them, and the mediums that feature monsters such as films and books. Beal relates these monsters to religion, God, and the Bible. He also explores the idea that God can be a part of the monsters people create and how God's actions can be seen as hideous. A primary argument that Beal makes is that monsters like Dracula are a way of dealing with the unknown in ritualistic fashion. Writing in Commonweal, William Jordan noted that "Beal reminds us that heaven and earth are full of monsters, and that grappling with them—and sometimes transforming them—has always been one of the principal tasks of religion."
Critics commented positively on Beal's style of writing in Religion and Its Monsters. As Library Journal reviewer Sandra Collins noted, "an informal, chatty style makes this more accessible than academic, although it is well researched." In addition, Jana Riess stated in Publishers Weekly that the book is "brilliant, twisted, [and] imaginative."
Beal's memoir, Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith, was written as a result of a Beal family road trip in 2002. Beal visited several religious locations around the United States with his wife and two children. One visit was to Richard Greene, a man making his own ark, just like Noah of the Bible. Greene believes that God has asked this of him and he has made it his life' work to honor the request. Another visit featured the biggest collection of rosaries in the world, located in the state of Washington. Several places were entertainment oriented such as Virginia's Holy Land and Kentucky's Biblical Mini-Golf course.
One critic noted the effect the experience had on Beal. Richard N. Osting noted in the Journal Star of Peoria, Illinois, that "reflecting on his travels, Beal says that people like himself who forsake evangelicalism 'don't tend to revisit that particular culture or theological tradition with much sympathy.' Yet he had to recapture some of the old warmth to understand what he was observing."In the book, Beal's treatment of his subjects was also positively commented on. Booklist reviewer June Sawyers stated, "The book is full of good humor, and Beal doesn't patronize the creators of these attractions but accords them respect and dignity."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Beal, Timothy K., Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2005.
Booklist, April 15, 2005, June Sawyers, review of Roadside Religion, p. 1415.
Catholic Biblical Quarterly, July, 2000, Sidnie White Crawford, review of The Book of Hiding: Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation, and Esther, p. 510; January, 2001, Linda Day, review of Ruth and Esther, p. 117.
Commonweal, March 8, 2002, William Jordan, "Mysterium tremendum," review of Religion and Its Monsters, p. 23.
Interpretation, April, 2001, Joan E. Cook, review of Ruth and Esther, p. 188.
Journal Star (Peoria, IL), May 7, 2005, Richard N. Osting, "Oddities—Author's Odyssey Uncovers Ten 'Strange' Religious Sites in Nine States," p. E8.
Library Journal, December, 2001, Sandra Collins, review of Religion and Its Monsters, p. 131.
New York Times Book Review, June 5, 2005, Sarah Ferrell, "Cross Country: A Professor of Religion Investigates Unusual Pilgrimage Sites throughout Rural America," p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, November 12, 2001, Jana Riess, review of Religion and Its Monsters, p. S16.
Case Western Reserve University Web site, http://www.case.edu/ (June 29, 2005), biography of Timothy K. Beal.