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  • Writer's pictureRothermel Foundation

"Jesus was a poor man": Encountering Jesus in History and Culture

May 5, 2024

Tina Pippin, Wallace M. Alston Professor of Bible and Religion at Agnes Scott College

"Jesus was a poor man": Encountering Jesus in History and Culture


Tina Pippin, Wallace M. Alston Professor of Bible and Religion at Agnes Scott College

Program Abstract:​​

Like others before me who have either embarked or denied being on “quests” for the historical Jesus, the act and determination not to quest is in itself also a quest. In this lecture I will explore some ways I encounter “Jesus” in social justice movements and cultural expressions. The phrase, “Jesus was a poor man,” are words that adorn the ministerial stole of Bishop William Barber. I will examine different media, especially Jesus’s appearance in the Poor Peoples’ Movement co-founded by Barber (with its origins in Eastern North Carolina), and also in art, film and fiction, using examples across centuries and in some contemporary global and diverse cultures. What I find is often confusing, challenging, surprising, disturbing, and inspiring, like the Jesus of the gospels. The scholarly teachings of and about Jesus lead to what I perceive as my responsibility as a biblical scholar to take the stories seriously and explore essential ethical connections. Through political and material cultures, I engage these connections through contemporary issues of human rights and our relation to the “other” through a variety of appearances of “Jesus” in these marginal worlds.


Speaker Bio:

Tina Pippin is the Wallace M. Alston Professor of Bible and Religion at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. She grew up in Grifton, N.C. and attended Arendell Parrott Academy in Kinston, then went across the state for college at Mars Hill College, then to seminary at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, followed by doctoral studies in Louisville, KY.

She was a member of The Bible and Culture Collective (The Postmodern Bible, Yale UP, 1995), the author of Death and Desire: The Rhetoric of Gender in the Apocalypse of John (WJNP, 1999; reprint Wipf and Stock, 2020), Apocalyptic Bodies: The Biblical End of the World in Text and Image (Routledge, 1999) and the co-editor with Cheryl Kirk-Duggan of Mother Goose, Mother Jones, Mommie Dearest: Biblical Mothers and Their Children (SBL, 2009), along with other publications on apocalyptic and the Bible and film studies.

Tina is the first recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s Excellence in Teaching Award. She is an activist-educator and also co-hosts a radical pedagogy podcast with Lucia Hulsether, Nothing Never Happens, at https://nothingneverhappens.org/.

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