I don’t see how criticism of the American dream has a biblical antecedent in the exodus. No one has enslaved Filipinos or subjected them to anything like Egypt. What I do see is the parallel in the us/them binary and the negative effect of colonialism on the Filipino identity: “White America represents what is good and beautiful, noble and laudable, while the brown Philippines represents what they despise in themselves” (294). I don’t think the Hebrews experienced anything similar. They came to Egypt because there was famine in Canaan. They left Egypt because of slavery.

Advertisements

This article clearly had an agenda, and I’m afraid I’m losing patience with the articles in this book for that reason. Good thing we’re on the last bit of it. One assertion that surprised me: “Canon and ‘orthodoxy’ were devised in part to exclude women from positions of leadership and authority” (289). I do think it’s true that scripture has been read through the lens of our patriarchal society, and a lot of assumptions have been made with that bias that skew biblical truth. But I’m not so quick to agree with King that scripture was canonized in order to keep women under the thumb of male domination.

I thought it was really interesting that there even is such a thing as “missionary Tamil” (276). I think people are too critical of missionaries who came into an unreached area and toiled for years and years to give people the Bible in their own language. It’s true that these translations have difficulties, but so do all other translations. That’s why educating people is important, so they can make their own decisions about the text. At least the people were aware of the differences involved in “missionary Tamil.” That shows knowledge and education to make wise decisions when reading the text.

I’m not sure I agree with this article. The author insists that the missionaries did harm to the people by choosing a local name for God and infusing it with Christian understanding. She goes so far as to accuse them of taking “the Shona captive by colonizing the Shona Supreme Being” (262) and thus making them “feel inadequate for being Shona” (266). First of all, is it really possible to colonize an idol? And secondly, having a true understanding of who you are in Christ is liberating. The inadequacy comes from elsewhere, whether from the way the missionaries portrayed God or from something else.

Rivera focuses a lot of her energy in this article to set up the binary us/them in her biblical texts. Even Proverbs’ Wisdom versus the Strange Woman is identified as God versus the Other. Listen to Wisdom, and stay away from the Strange Woman who will lead you astray. I never noticed how prevalent these binaries are until we started talking about them in this class. Now they’re everywhere. In order to define self, we contrast against something that is not like self. In order to define good, there must be evil. For wisdom, there must be fallacy.

“Later, in a Christian imperial context, [John’s] exalted image of Jesus as the unique Son, God from above the beginning, resonated with the culture of subsequent imperial rule, and later Western colonial subjugation” (234). Huie-Jolly and many of the other authors in this text are really starting to wear on me. She’s reading Western imperialism into John’s gospel. Is she really criticizing John, or Western missionaries, for claiming that Jesus is God? That’s just ridiculous to me.

It’s interesting what some people see in scripture through the lens of their own experience. Of course we all do it. Liew brings to the text his background as a victim of British colonization of Hong Kong. Thus, he is more sensitive to language in scripture. One thing that struck me was his interpretation of Jesus’ family language: “Even if one understands [Jesus’ address to the disciples as] ‘children’ as a symbol for something else (like those who occupy a marginal position in society), infantilization is still an insulting form of patronization at best, and an extreme form of victimization at worst” (213). Jesus as insulting and patronizing…that’s a new concept for me. Again, I just think we need to be careful not to let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction when attempting to “correct” other views of the text.

Maybe I’m just too conservative in my understanding of scripture for the readings in this class, but I’m starting to get a little frustrated with the lengths to which some authors go to extract their agendas from the text. Moore writes, “Practices of reading acutely attuned to such complexities are a signal feature of contemporary postcolonial theory, and not the least of its benefits for the biblical critic” (197). It’s true that if you read the text with a postcolonial lens, you see postcolonial issues. But with that argument, you can see anything in the text if you look hard enough. That’s why proof-texting is inadequate for valid argument. I just think we need to be careful not to be so eager to push our own agendas that we miss what’s important about the text.

Latvus argues that from a postcolonial perspective, colonialism is all about power. Thus, the poor are left out of the equation because they have no power at all, neither the power to assert themselves nor the power to command attention from the colonizers. As Latvus notes, “The poor represent the deepest margin compared to the political center of Babylon, because they are not even important enough to be named, killed, or deported” (188).

This article reminds me of the novel Ferguson wrote about in Castle. In Daniel, the colonized assert power over the colonizer in the same way Christophine asserts power over Rochester. As Chia writes, “identity of the colonized is being up-graded, from the passive manipulated to the active manipulator, and from the powerless loser to the powerful giver” (173). The very fact that the narrator refuses to call Daniel and his friends by their “new” names shows their resistance to being given identity by the king.

More so than the previous article, I am especially challenged at Donaldson’s interpretation of Ruth, one of my favorite Bible stories growing up. I always imagined (or maybe I was always taught) that because of Ruth’s great loyalty and submission, she was accepted into the family of God and even given a special place in Jesus’ ancestry. To read the story as the tragic assimilation of a unique identity into one that eclipses and, essentially, destroys it. Ruth’s heroic moment is now her lamentable choice to fade away. That’s just depressing.

Feminist interpretations of, well anything really, are pretty new to me, so it’s sometimes difficult to get my mind around these challenging interpretations of scripture. So a postcolonial and feminist interpretation is definitely a different experience. Most interesting to me is Dube’s vision of the two women as representative of their lands: beautiful, chaste, and loyal Judith of Israel as opposed to beautiful, promiscuous, and deceptive Rahab of Jericho. I’m really just not sure what to make of it yet.