In Reading Phinehas, Watching Slashers, Brandon R. Grafius enlists horror theory, especially analysis of the slasher film genre, to elucidate the account in Numbers 25 featuring Phinehas jointly spearing a Midianite woman and an Israelite man who seem to be engaged in sexual intercourse. Grafius contends this “rhetorical violence” is part of a priestly attempt to reinforce social boundaries within the ancient Israelite community (xiii). He explores this concept throughout five chapters of the monograph, followed by a brief conclusion.Overall, Grafius’ work is a success. It is well written and logically organized. It features a broad analytical approach, granting a satisfying balance between assessments of ancient texts and modern interpretive models. It is concise and yet it sufficiently highlights most of the relevant research on Numbers 25, horror theory, and slasher film analysis. Moreover, the connections between horror theory and religion are numerous and underexplored. As such, this book is a welcome attempt to bridge that gap.
Author, Brandon Grafius shows the appropriateness of horror theory as a tool for uncovering valuable insights concerning the communities responsible for horrific texts. Overall his methodology is not formulaic nor are his conclusions predictable, but rather his careful interpretation brings a fresh perspective to a troubling text, and this work should be a welcome read for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in biblical studies, especially those interested in the priestly school, horror theory, or creative approaches to the Bible and film.
In this interesting and innovative book, G. combines historical-critical exegesis together with psychoanalytical and social-scientific approaches to horror films in order to interpret the story of Phinehas’ violent dispatch of Zimri and Cozbi. . . The study is well-written and clearly organized. . . A provocative and engaging study.