The problematic addressed in this study is the vision and task of biblical criticism today. The introduction describes its context and rationale: a series of key anniversaries in 2014, involving critical times of the twentieth century, that bring to bear historical, geopolitical, and spatial dimensions of meaning upon our own critical times as well as my term as president of the Society of Biblical Literature. The introduction further sets forth its objective: the felt imperative need for a response to our critical times as a critic. The main body of the study develops an initial response in four major steps: first, analysis of presidential addresses given in critical times of yesteryear, with a focus on the years of the Great War (1914–18), as signifier for the perceived function of biblical criticism in society and culture; second, exposition of the spectrum of opinion regarding the pursuit of critical inquiry in a variety of discursive frameworks, with a focus on intellectual studies, in order to situate the rhetorical choice adopted by former presidents and allow for a different, more activist role; third, analysis of the global state of affairs as the context for critical inquiry today, with a focus on global economics, as a prerequisite for an engaged critical stance; and fourth, search for a theoretical framework appropriate for engaging our critical times, involving not only critical theories of world order from the Global North but also alternative theories from the Global South. The conclusion offers an interpretive project for our times in keeping with the various dimensions of the response, arguing for a fusion of the critical and the political, the biblical and the worldly.

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