Photo by Lynne Brown

Brandon R. Grafius is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit. He has published widely on the intersection between horror and religion. His book Lurking under the Surface: Horror, Religion, and the Questions that Haunt Us is forthcoming in the fall 2022 from Broadleaf Books. He is also co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Monsters, scheduled for publication next year. Find him on Twitter: @brgrafius.

Posts By This Author

Redeeming Violent Verses

by Brandon Grafius 02-12-2024
Eric A. Seibert offers ways for church leaders to retell biblical stories to imagine a nonviolent outcome.
The image shows the cover of the book redeeming violent verses by Eric Seibert, which is kind of a marbled blue and red, on a light red background.

Westminster John Knox

ONE OF MY EARLIEST memories of church is being in the children’s choir, pumping my fist in the air and yelling as we sang about David’s victory over Goliath. While my vocal pitch was suspect, I didn’t lack for enthusiasm. But the whole performance taught me something dangerous: Righteous violence is exciting. It’s a lesson I’ve spent a large part of my adult life trying to unlearn.

Eric A. Seibert is a key figure in working through the violent passages of the Hebrew Bible. In his newest book, Redeeming Violent Verses: A Guide for Using Troublesome Texts in Church and Ministry, Seibert argues that the church can’t run away from violent Bible verses. Moreover, he writes, we must incorporate them into our religious experiences. But, Seibert cautions, we must always do this in a way that rejects the glorification of violence that is often found within scripture. Seibert offers several ways for church leaders to accomplish this, including refocusing attention on the victims of violence, or retelling the story to imagine a nonviolent outcome. Individual chapters highlight some specific ideas for how this can be done in children’s education, liturgy, and preaching.

The Many Ghosts of the Revised Common Lectionary

by Brandon Grafius 10-04-2022

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

There are large swaths of the Bible that the lectionary skips over. And while there are lots of reasons for not including certain passages, it doesn’t take too long to notice one major pattern: Passages that are uncomfortably violent (or just angry) are frequently left on the cutting room floor, and consequently left out of Sunday worship.

‘The Sandman’ Grapples with a World Full of Terror and Grace

by Brandon Grafius 08-15-2022

'The Sandman,' Netflix

Viewers would be wise to approach The Sandman expecting a slow burn rather than a breakneck action extravaganza. There’s plenty of horror, but these moments are spaced out through the deeply human moments of Morpheus coming to terms with what it means to serve humanity.

In ‘Stranger Things,’ It’s the Bad Guys Who Quote Scripture

by Brandon Grafius 07-11-2022

'Stranger Things,' Netflix

Scripture is quoted twice in the latest season of Stranger Things, a first for the Netflix original that introduced us to the military experiments happening in the small Midwestern town of Hawkins, Eggo-loving Eleven, and the magic of Steve Harrington’s hair.

‘Men’ Shows Christianity’s Horrifying Legacy of Blaming Women

by Brandon Grafius 05-24-2022

'Men' / A24

Men uses imagery from Genesis 3 to reflect on the culturally assigned guilt of women and the patriarchal system that has perpetuated this guilt through a centuries-long history of interpretation.

What Can Horror Teach Us About the Bible?

by Brandon Grafius 03-01-2022

Photo by Norbert Buduczki on Unsplash

Horror has always leaned on religion to provide the backbone for its explorations of evil, even before the first time Dracula cowered in fear at the sight of a cross. But religion doesn’t just inspire the horror genre, it utilizes it, too. The Bible is full of horror.