Audio Archive

Swanson, Richard

Richard Swanson is professor of Religion/Philosophy/Classics at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. He is the director of the Provoking the Gospel Storytelling Project, a troupe of actors that explores biblical narratives and creates performances of them. They have performed from Albuquerque to Toronto, with stops in between. Their last major production was a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Augustana Choir.

He has written four books so far, all of which have the phrase “Provoking the Gospel” in the title. This may reveal a certain lack of imagination, and it certainly does make it easier to remember the titles when people ask.

The repetition, however, reveals also something else. He believes that biblical stories are too important, and far too interesting, to be left to the ideologues and dogmaticians who crank out the customary interpretations that everyone already knows. He believes that biblical stories inspire the best interpretations when you poke them a little. When you poke and prod and provoke biblical stories, they poke back, and when they do, they provoke understandings of the gospel that we’d never have found any other way. He is currently writing a fifth book. When it is finished (which had better be soon, his wife says), it will be called Provoking the Gospel of John. He hopes someday to write a book with a different title.

The next major project for the Provoking the Gospel Storytelling Project is another collaboration with the Augustana Choir. Together, they hope to work with inmates in the South Dakota State Penitentiary to develop a performance of the Magnificat from Luke and the Binding of Isaac from Genesis.

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