Embodying the Text
As an actor, I look at the Bible differently from the ways pastors and traditional Bible scholars see it. In addition to usinglanguage, historical context, and previous commentary, I also embody the text. I become the people in the Bible stories. Through playful and serious performance, often done alone in my own study at home, I discover so much that is hidden from our minds. These findings are usually well supported in the text.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of this is how my view of the encounter between the Ethiopian Eunuch and the Apostle Phillip radically changed once I used my imagination to step into the body of the eunuch. I published a piece about this over at MeetHouse XYZ.
The Mystery of the Ethiopian Eunuch
The Ethiopian Eunuch is:
• a foreigner
• an African
• a eunuch (castrated male)
• a rich person
• a member of a royal court
• a literate person (most people in those days did not read including most of Jesus’ disciples)
• a person of faith
I have often stood, imagining the Temple in Jerusalem with the crush of people, the many courtyards and fountains, the buzz of activity. It was a highly gendered space. Men and young men to one side, and women and children on the other. There was an area designated for foreigners and for gentiles. Everyone in their place.
I stood imagining the different designated areas. I saw all the families and wondered, “As a eunuch, where do I go?” and “How do I feel being in this space where family is so central?” It felt familiar.
And if you want to hear more stories about eunuchs in the Bible, check out my new film, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. Available at Barclay Press.