Nostalgia, novelty, and the subversion of authority in “The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs”

Fan Studies Journal Transformative Works and Cultures published a special issue on Fan Fiction and ancient scribal cultures. The entire edition is an amazing read, exploring ‘the potential of fan fiction as an interpretative model to study ancient religious texts.’ I wrote an article dealing with the way early Christians tried to write new things about the Hebrew Bible, but also change nothing in the Bible: the interplay between the opposite forces of nostalgia and novelty.


The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, by negotiating the authorship and authority of its derivative readings, discusses the place of Israel vis-à-vis Christianity through almost fannish retellings of the lives of the patriarchs of Israel. The text thereby walks a line between nostalgic and novel readings of foundational narratives, in some places perpetuating canonical authority and in others subverting it. The outcome of this interplay is the displacement of the Israelite author and Christianization of Israelite history. Contemporary fan fiction studies discourse provides tools for analyzing this negotiation of textual authority. Read the rest here.
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