Postcolonial theologians argue that, in the past, the dominant Western form of Christianity is actually determined, shaped, and defined by European colonialism , implying and reinforcing notions such as Eurocentrism , colonial exploitation, and the superiority of European values and culture. Although decolonization took place shortly after the Second World War , postcolonial theories did not emerge until the late s.
The field of postcolonial theology, correspondingly, did not arise until the s. Notable biblical scholars include R. Sugirtharajah and Fernando Segovia and theologians include Musa W. Given its similarities with literary analysis, it is not surprising that biblical studies was the first field within Christian studies to apply postcolonial criticism.
Among various scholars, R. Sugirtharajah, one of the principal advocates of postcolonial biblical studies, outlined in his book The Bible and the Third World three hermeneutic approaches which emerged after colonialism : the native or vernacular approach, the liberation approach, and the postcolonial approach. There are certain benefits of applying postcolonial criticism to biblical studies. First, it opens up potential areas and possibilities for interdisciplinary work, enriching the discipline by enabling multiple approaches to bring in their insights.
Second, it allows for criticism towards the way things are done, including the principles and presuppositions of the field. In addition, it also avoids detachment from the contemporary world, as work done in the discipline would have to respond to postcolonial contexts. Reviewing Christian history from a postcolonial critical perspective, history is realized to be intrinsically more than just impartial facts.
As history is essentially a narrative of what happened, it is always an interpretation, which is "bound by time, place, and the social, political, religious, cultural and economic positions of writers", and a representation, being an "interested construction of representation through which power is expressed, reflected, and exercised.
Postcolonial historical methods, therefore, begins with tracing the development of the dominant narrative, followed by a critical reassessment of the sources and the historiography of the mainstream narrative, and finally teasing out the colonial taints and construct new, alternative narratives. As such, postcolonial criticism contributes to the discipline by putting forth a recognition that current narratives are, or at least are likely to be, shaped by the colonial context.
This leads to the awareness that there could be, and should be, alternative representations of those parts of history. Biased historical readings are therefore prevented or at least reduced. Given the short history of engaging with postcolonial criticism, postcolonial theology as a field of study is still "in its infancy. Sugirtharajah that its development is further held back by Western reluctance to analyse the theological implications of colonial imperialism.
However, theologians from the colonized non-West such as C. Song and Chung Hyun Kyung have long been theologizing with reflection or even resistance against the colonizing West. Interpreted from the perspective of postcolonial criticism, these theologies could be retrospectively categorized as postcolonial theology. Regional theologies are also influenced by other intellectual trends, such as liberation theology or feminist theology.
In Africa, theology is often articulated in one of two aspects: inculturation and liberation. This would later influence South African theology, especially during and after Apartheid. Greg Carey. Bible and Ethics in the Christian Life. Bruce C. The Amazing Colossal Apostle. Robert M. Just Politics. Ronald J. How the Bible Works.
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Continue shopping. Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart. As an alternative to white Western Christian feminism, Dube discusses AIC — African Independent Churches — a protest movement against white-male-only leadership of missionary-founded churches. Why have I never heard of this movement before? For mostly white Christian feminists like us, the choice of the Exodus story jolts, for we usually view this as a core liberation narrative.
Yet Dube reminds us that this liberation leads inevitably to the conquest of Canaan. Dube is deliberate about analyzing canonical texts on a par with other cultural texts, so that we are less tempted to shield them from criticism.
The power of both of these ancient tales is their mythic qualities, as they provide justification for continuing imperialism. And today in Israel we see the crushing oppression of Palestinians as Israeli settlers convince themselves that God wants Jews to take over Palestinian land. Indeed, there may be no place on earth today where colonialism is so blatant. As a prostitute, Rahab is a woman of little value in her own culture.
Only when she betrays her own people and sides with the enemy does she become a hero. I found this section the most engaging, since it is a text and a Gospel that I have previously worked with. Consequently, however, I also had more interpretive disagreements with the author here! Dube first critiques Matthew for not resisting the imperial occupation of Rome. Rather, he focuses on the antagonism between various Jewish groups within Israel. One of the results of colonization, asserts Dube, is to set different groups of colonized people against each other, so that they come to hate and destroy each other rather than uniting to resist their common oppressor.
Certainly first century Palestine represented this reality, as Sadducees cooperated with Romans in order to retain power and wealth while exploiting their own people. Zealots then fought both Sadducean priests and Rome. To me they do not seem any more convincing than the above white Western feminist interpreters, but they do approach it from different perspectives that most Western women would not think of.
Though I consciously view the Bible through the lenses of race, class, and gender, a postcolonial perspective has pushed me to think about these issues in greater depth. It is also hard to think that the Great Commission is patterned after Roman imperialism, given how tiny and politically powerless the church would have been when Matthew wrote his Gospel. Yet much of the history of the church — since it became Roman under Constantine — reflects domination of other peoples and suppression of their religious traditions and beliefs, often at the point of a sword.
Though better at deconstruction than at constructive biblical interpretation, this African postcolonial feminist has much to teach all of us.