The Bible and Critical Theory, Vol 2, No 1 (2006)

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Crown of Thorns: Ancient Prophecy and the (Post)modern Spectacle

William Stewart

Abstract


This article juxtaposes actress Rachel Griffiths’ ‘art installation, one-woman protest’ at Crown Casino, Melbourne, in 1997, with Jesus of Nazareth’s ‘provocative one-man street theatre’ in the Jerusalem temple reported in the biblical Gospels (Mark 11:15-19 and parallels). I consider that Griffiths’ casino-action echoes the style and content of the ancient prophetic symbolic actions (sign-acts) in the Bible. The juxtaposition is therefore undertaken as a means of apprehending in the (post)modern world the radical nature of ancient prophetic symbolic actions, such as Jesus’ temple-action. I suggest that the affronting and offensive style and content of such actions may generate an ‘alienation-effect’ (Brecht) provoking critical engagement with a commonly assumed reality. And in the ‘society of spectacle’ (Debord), in which a revolution against the spectacle can only take the form of spectacle (Baudrillard), the appropriation of powerful images from the Bible may introduce an alternative reality.

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391