Rossing, Barbara

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ROSSING, Barbara

PERSONAL:

Female. Education: Carleton College, B.A.; Yale Divinity School, M. Div.; Harvard Divinity School, Th.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Ordained Lutheran minister, 1982. Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, associate professor of New Testament, 1994—. American Lutheran Church, assistant and acting director for Global Mission Interpretation; Holden Village Retreat Center, Chelan, WA, pastor; Harvard University Divinity School, chaplain; pastor in Minnesota. Member of board of directors, Augsburg Fortress Publishing House.

WRITINGS:

The Choice between Two Cities: Whore, Bride, and Empire in the Apocalypse, Trinity Press International (Harrisburg, PA), 1999.

The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Christianity and Ecology, edited by Rosemary Radford Ruether and Dieter Hessel, Harvard University Press Center for World Religions (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

Contributor to periodicals, including Currents in Theology and Mission, Lutheran Standard, and Lutheran Woman Today.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

Article in The Earth Bible, Volume 5: The Earth Story in the New Testament, edited by Norman Habel and Shirley Wurst, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England).

SIDELIGHTS:

Barbara Rossing is an ordained Lutheran minister and a professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. An active environmentalist, she often works with environmental initiates at the seminary. Her research and public speaking interests cover topics such as archaeology, the apocalypse, scripture and the Bible, Revelation, sexuality, the church and society, and the Middle East.

In The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation Rossing offers a bluntly critical but deeply reasoned and impassioned assessment of mainstream fascination with the Biblical concept of the Rapture, especially as it is portrayed in the hugely popular "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Her approach is not whitewashed; her criticism is sharp-edged and to the point. "Rossing issues a salvo with her opening line: 'The rapture is a racket,'" commented Jason Byassee in Christian Century. "Her first paragraph is a full-blown jeremiad: 'In place of healing, the rapture proclaims escape. In place of Jesus' blessing of peacemakers, the rapture voyeuristically glorifies violence and war. In place of Revelations vision of the Lamb's vulnerable, self-giving love, the rapture celebrates the lion-like wrath of the Lamb. This theology is not biblical.'"

The majority of Rossing's book is "devoted to demolishing the dispensationalists' reading of the Bible, and to offering a counterstory of the incarnate love of God that refuses to leave his church or his world behind," Byassee observed. "Anger drives this Lutheran minister and seminary professor," stated Byassee. "She hates what Left Behind has done to popular Christian eschatology, to the Bible, to public policy, and especially to Christians' attitudes toward the environment." As a minister and theologian with an environmentalist's view of the natural world, Rossing is deeply in conflict with the unspoken permission to waste natural resources behind Rapture thinking—if the world is going to end in Armageddon anyway, what difference does it make if nature is exploited and mistreated for short-term gain right now? Rossing examines how Rapture thinking has made its way not only into mainstream literature and entertainment, but into politics and public policy as well, influencing not only the media but elected officials, domestic and foreign policymakers, and presidents.

Gene Lyons, writing in Harper's, remarked that in the "Left Behind" series, "LaHaye and Jenkins convert what was once the spiritual and psychological drama of salvation into escapist melodrama, Puritan self-examination into messianic narcissism. Satan is the Other, basically anything you fear and don't understand. The books are pagan tribalism writ large, complete with soothsayers and magic spells."

Rossing "argues powerfully against the fascination with violence characteristic of much dispensational thinking" and theology, commented Booklist reviewer Steven Schroeder. The Biblical "Book of Revelation," where many concepts of the Rapture originate, is not a prognostication tool to help predict and describe the end of the world, but is instead "meant to inspire humanity to seek out 'repentance and justice,'" noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Rossing offers an interpretation of "The Book of Revelation" and the Rapture not as "phantasmagoric fantasy," but as a story "marked by Jesus' eschatological proclamation of a kingdom of nonviolence, charity, and peace," Byassee remarked.

Lyons called Rossing's book "lucid and passionate" The Publishers Weekly critic noted that evangelicals and Christian conservatives would likely find the book controversial, but concluded that "Rossing's scholarly work is well organized and obviously carefully thought out" and presented.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Rossing, Barbara, The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 2004.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2004, Steven Schroeder, review of The Rapture Exposed, p. 1246.

Christian Century, April 20, 2004, Jason Byassee, "En-raptured: What's Behind 'Left Behind,'" review of The Rapture Exposed, p. 18.

Harper's, November, 2004, Gene Lyons, "The Apocalypse Will Be Televised," review of The Rapture Exposed, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, March 8, 2004, review of The Rapture Exposed, p. 70.

ONLINE

Lutheran Peace Fellowship Web site,http://members.tripod.com/lutheran_peace/ (December 17, 2004), "Nobel Laureates Appeal Discussed in Lutheran Theology Journal."

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago Web site,http://www.lstc.edu/ (December 17, 2004), "Barbara Rossing."*

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