For the convenience of anyone who wishes to follow along with my November 19, 2016 Society of Biblical Literature presentation entitled “Just a Game? Exegesis, Theology, and Ethics in Five Recent Bible-Themed Board Games,” here is the slideshow, presented as a PDF with one slide per page. The program book abstract reads as follows, though it’s no longer 100% accurate to the presentation:
In both the introduction and the conclusion to their groundbreaking study Toying with God: The World of Religious Games and Dolls (Baylor University Press, 2010), Nikki Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris noted that “[m]ost religious board games are simply religious versions of familiar games like Monopoly or Risk, with churches and missions replacing railroads and hotels” (177–178; cf. 2). In the years since then, several new Bible-themed board games have appeared, including Genesis (Gigantoskop, 2010), Kingdom of Solomon (Minion Games, 2012), Kings of Israel (Funhill Games, 2014), and Commissioned (Chara Games, 2015). Each of these games seeks to provide a kind of religious edutainment in which players experience biblical narratives and themes by way of engaging game mechanics. In general, these games exhibit better game design and production values than previous attempts. Moreover, despite clear family resemblances to existing secular games, they depart from the trend noted by Bado-Fralick and Norris of reskinning prior exemplars. Like their forebears, however, these games are “expressions of religiosity growing out of contemporary modes of communication and exchange,” each with “layers of culture, relationship, and identity embedded in [it]” (Bado-Fralick and Norris, 175)—not to mention layers of exegesis, theology, and ethics. This presentation peels back some of those layers with respect to Genesis, Kingdom of Solomon, Kings of Israel, and Commissioned, and the presenter’s own work co-developing a fifth such game, Crossroads (Trivium Studios, 2016). Coherence and/or incoherence between the games’ implicit theologies and those held by the presumptively evangelical Christian audience, supportive and/or subversive approaches to the biblical source material, and representations of divinity, ethnicity, and gender in each game will receive special attention.
Christians, you are tools being played if you think that this movie is anything BUT a subversion of the Biblical God and an exaltation of environmentalism and animal rights against humans. Don’t listen to those who say that hurting the earth is just part of the sins of mankind in the story. No matter what “sins” of man that are portrayed in this story, they are clearly only expressions of the ultimate sin, which is to sin against the earth. Every time it talks about man’s sin and God’s intent, the context is always “creation” not God, and not man as God’s image. The guy who preaches “man as God’s image” is the villain. “Creation” as in “Nature” is the metanarrative here, NOT God.
John Anderson and I just got official notice today that our Society of Biblical Literature Genesis Consultation, whose three-year run ended at the 2013 SBL Annual Meeting in Baltimore, has been renewed as a Section for the next six years. This wonderful news presents us with a bit of a conundrum: we were not able to issue a call for papers in the normal way. Only today—the last day—did the system allow potential presenters to propose papers. Amazingly, we got a proposal within just a few minutes of the Section going live!
At any rate, if you are a biblical scholar working on Genesis, please consider submitting a proposal to our open session at the 2014 Annual Meeting in San Diego! The SBL’s standard system will only accept proposals up through midnight tonight (March 4, 2014), however, so either act fast or send a proposal to me via e-mail within the next few days. See you in San Diego!
In her After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16–21 (2006), which treats the reception history of Genesis 3:16–21 in “sources dating from (or in the case of rabbinic documents) not later than the fourth and early fifth century CE” (18), Hanneke Reuling comments,
Strict criteria have guided the choice of sources, which had to be severely limited for several reasons. First, five biblical verses form a relatively large body of text for the type of research pursued. (18)
No wonder I feel overwhelmed, sometimes to the point of despair, trying to do this type of research for Genesis 1–21 across two and a half millennia! Well, enough whining. The book of Genesis beckons.
Note: “After Eden” is apparently also the name of a Netherlandish lingerie company. If you’re trying to Google more information about the book, such as book reviews, include Reuling’s name in your search string.