David Tombs

Routledge Focus Series: Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible

David Tombs’ book The Crucifixion of Jesus: Torture, Sexual Abuse, and the Scandal of the Cross is available open access and was first published in 2023. As the title makes clear, this book is as difficult to read as it is important.

Open access DOI:

How do you reflect back on writing your book? 

I was lucky to have a semester of research leave to focus on writing the book.  Victoria University Wellington (Aotearoa New Zealand) generously offered to host me as Visiting Scholar and gave me a quiet place to write. Victoria University library has one of the best University library views in the world, looking out from the hill side over the city and the water of Wellington harbour. New Zealand has lots of beautiful scenery and this was a really inspiring place to focus on writing.

What has been the response to your book?

The book draws on work that I have researched for over twenty years and puts the main arguments together in a single place. People have told me they appreciate how this shows the connections between different parts. People have said that although it is challenging to read it is worthwhile because it has changed their understanding of the cross. For some readers, the book can transform how they feel about themselves. One reader wrote: 

“I wanted to let you know how deeply this has helped me…. I can’t adequately express my gratitude to you here for your work. I’m going to reflect on it a lot more and read it again.”

I had the chance to record a podcast on the main arguments in the book for OnScript with Erin Heim,

[Editor: Check out also the interview episode with David on The Shiloh Podcast.]

How and where are you now and what are you doing or working on at present?

I work at the University of Otago in New Zealand and the country is now getting ready for the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care (2018-2024). The final report is likely to be difficult reading for everyone, especially the churches. I am hoping to contribute to church conversations around what can be learnt from this. As far as possible I try to make my writing easily available through my web-site

Do you have any advice for authors of future publications in this series?

A number of colleagues have said what a good idea a ‘short-format’ book is and I completely agree. The format is long enough to develop a significant argument and set out the evidence, whilst being very much more manageable as a writing project than a full-length book. For me it was a perfect format!

What topics in the area of rape culture, religion and/or the Bible would you like to see a book on?

The rape culture, religion and the Bible series has been important for including volumes on sexual violence against male victims as well sexual violence against women and girls. Further work on male victims would be welcome because it is has previously been a neglected topic, and as more research is done more areas of research are likely to open up.

Do you have a shout-out to anyone working in this general area? Please shout about them!

I really appreciated Barbara Thiede’s volume on Rape Culture in the House of David. I believe Barbara is now doing further work on male-on-male violence in the books Samuel, which I am keen to read when it is published. A particular shout out also needs to go to Johanna Stiebert, for her leadership on this project, and especially her work on this book series.

Tags : CrucifixionDavid Tombs

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