This book charts the mutations of the book of Jonah as it latches onto Christian and Jewish motifs and anxieties, passes through highbrow and lowbrow culture, and finally becomes something of a scavenger among the ruins, as, in its most resourceful move to date, it begins to live off the demise of faith. This book is concerned with those versions of the biblical that escape proper disciplinary boundaries: it shifts the focus from "Mainstream" to "Backwater" interpretation. It is less a navigation of interpretative history and more an interrogation of larger political/cultural issues: anti-Judaism in Biblical Studies, the secularization of the Bible, and the projection of the Bible as credulous ingenu, naive Other to our savvy post-Enlightenment selves.
Introduction; 1. The Mainstream; (i) Jonah and the Fathers: Jonah and Jesus as typological twins; (ii) Jonah the Jew: the evolution of a biblical character; (iii) Divine Disciplinary Devices: or the book of Jonah and a tractate on producing docile disciple-bodies; (iv) Cataloguing the Monstrous: Jonah and the Cani Cacharis (or a concluding scientific postscript); (v) Taking Stock: survivals, hauntings, Jonah and (Stanley) fish, and the Christian colonisation of the book of Jonah; 2. Backwaters and Underbellies; (i) Jewish Interpretation; (ii) Popular Interpretation; (iii) On the Strained Relations Between the Backwaters and the Mainstream: or how Jewish and popular readings are prone to bring on a bout of scholarly dyspepsia; (iv) Of Survival, Memes and Life-After-Death: on Jonah's infinite regurgitation and endless survival; (v) Jonah on the Oncology Ward and the Beached-up Whale Carcass; or the strange secular afterlives of Biblical texts; 3. Regurgitating Jonah; (i) Of 'Hot Chestnuts', 'Fluid Puddings' and 'Plots That Do Not Shelter Us': some ruminations on the salvific properties of 'the Bible' and 'literature'; (ii) Regurgitating Jonah; (iii) In conclusion … Recuperating Jonah: the book of Jonah as the quintessential story and the most typical of Bible texts; Bibliography.
"Rich with literary allusion, evocative images, and playful elegant turns of phrase, the work combines to great effect Sherwood's two areas of specialization: English literature and biblical studies...a more comprehensive book on the topic is hard to imagine..." Religious Studies Review
"A Biblical Text and Its Afterlives is surely one of the most erudite, compelling, and well-written books of the most recent generation of biblical scholarship. Sherwood combines a solid grounding in biblical studies and the history of interpretation, a sophisticated knowledge of the literature of cultural studies and literary theory, and an underlying commitment to the ethical and moral demands of reading. And mediating it all is the author's distinctive prose style. By turns elegant and witty, urbane and laugh-out-loud funny, Sherwood seems incapable of writing a bland sentence." Journal of Biblical Literature
"Rich with literary allusion, evocative images, and playful and elegant turns of phrase, the work combines to great effect Sherwood's two areas of specialization: English literature and biblical studies." Religious Studies Review
"...remarkable book...Sherwood writes in an engagingly droll style that makes the book a constant delight to read, and it should be accessible to anyone at college level or beyond...Sherwood does not disappoint." The Princeton Seminary Bulletin