Peter and Susan Pitzele’s seminal work, Scripture Windows, Toward a Practice of Bibliodrama, has been republished by the Ben Yehuda Press. Advance copies can now be ordered and are expected to be distributed beginning January 25, 2019. The original book went out of print in 2016.
Originally published in 1998, this new edition contains the same essential text as the previous edition, but offers the addition of a new introduction by the authors. Peter, along with his wife Susan, began developing what would become a unique form of Bibliodrama in the 1980’s. Since this time, the two authors have refined the method. These efforts lead to the publication of Scripture Windows, which has since become the seminal work on the subject.
Scripture Windows begins with a brief introduction to the method, including the history of the development. This history includes a description of Peter’s Hero’s Journey, though it is never referred to as such. In 1984, prior to the “call to action,” in his “normal life” Peter was a psychodramatist at the New York psychiatric hospital. Previously he had studied literature, eventually earning PhD in comparative literature from Harvard where he later taught. According to Bibliolog, A Creative Access to the Bible, the call to action came from his boss, friend and mentor who was a teacher a the Jewish Theological Seminary. Peter was asked to fill-in for him at the Jewish Seminary and teach a class on leadership. He accepted this call to action and thereby thrust himself into the great unknown – teaching future Rabbis as a secular Jew with little to no real knowledge of the Jewish tradition. Leaning on the two things he knew well, the academic analysis of literature and psychodrama, Peter guided the students through a roll-play involving the leadership of Moses. Through this experience, Bibliodrama was born. Peter later learned that this fusion of literary interpretation and psychodrama, which was a new and different way of examining the “white fire” of the biblical texts, was an adaptation of what was traditionally a form of Midrash. To complete the Hero’s Journey, Peter brought back from this figurative step into the chaos of the unknown the gift of Bibliodrama, which he now freely shares with the world.
The remaining content of Scripture Windows includes a detailed description of both the long form and short forms of Bibliodrama. Reading through the book it soon becomes evident that Peter has thoroughly infused the methods, techniques and interventions of psychodrama into his version of the Jewish Midrash. For example, Peter’s description and use of “echoing” is akin to the doubling in psychodrama. But it’s also different and therefore echoing is his own creative adaptation of psychodrama’s doubling, which was originally developed by Dr. J. L. Moreno.
Other adaptations include the psychodramatic encounter, where in Bibliodrama one bible character may encounter another to discuss some common issue or event. In this way Moses and Aaron might have a spontaneous discussion of the golden calf episode in Exodus 32:1-6. Another might be the psychodramatic sculpture, where, for example, the departure scene of Rebekah, found in Genesis 24:58-61 might be reproduced spatially within the group-space, with participants deciding by their own positioning where the various characters from the story might be arranged as Rebekah leaves her family to join Issac’s.
In the book, each of these Bibliodramatic methods are described in detail as part of the chapters on the long form of Bibliodrama, whereas in the short form chapters, the various building blocks leading up to these more complicated explorations are thoroughly explained and described.
Scripture Windows is essential reading for anyone interested in exploring and leading Bibliodrama as a facilitator. The reader will benefit from Peter’s and Susan’s excellent narrative style and detailed explanations of the various methods and techniques described in this excellent work.