Biblical Resistance Hermeneutics Within a Caribbean Context

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-08-08
  • Publisher: Routledge
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This work takes the view that biblical hermeneutics within a Caribbean context focus more on the meaning of biblical texts for lived realities and less on the Bible as historically and contextually conditioned and thereby ideological. Further, the work outlines the difficulties of combining biblical hermeneutics and social praxis within the context of the Caribbean and particularly within Christian communities that descend from a long history of slavery. Moreover, it examines the social and hermeneutical context of a post-independence Caribbean and poses hermeneutical questions involving text-context, oral-written and reading-practice. The historical materialist, postcolonial and contextual Bible study reading strategies are employed as tools of analysis for the following: to identify the socio-ideological interests, theological agenda and social practices that produced biblical texts; to analyse readings of the Letter to Philemon in the New Testament; to engage in a resistant reading of Philemon; and to develop a biblical resistant reading strategy that is critically aware of the cultural meaning of contextual realities (cultural literacy consciousness), comes out of a commitment to and involvement in social struggle(praxis of and for resistance) and gives agency to the materiality of conditions of interpreters and the material conditions out of which biblical texts emerged. This biblical resistant reading strategy seeks to overcome the disjuncture between the sociality of existence and matters of faith and has implications for the reading and defining of the Bible, theological perspectives in the Caribbean, worship and Caribbean hermeneutical practices. It does not privilege the socio-ideological interests and theological agenda and social practices that produced biblical texts over the socio-cultural and historical realities within the context of readers in the interpretive process but both. To give emphasis to one over the other is to blunt the Bible as a cultural weapon of resistance. The biblical resistant hermeneutic as developed in this work is the first of its kind within the Caribbean context.

Author Biography

Oral Thomas is a minister in the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) and Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Theologies in the Caribbean and Contextual Theologies at the United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Stating the Casep. 1
Tracking Biblical Hermeneutical Practices within the Caribbeanp. 18
Introductionp. 18
Colonial Era: 1492-1838p. 21
Complicity and duplicity of the Churchp. 23
Biblical interpretive approachesp. 25
Outcome: Social control and stability versus social reconstructionp. 31
Eisegetics and exegeticsp. 32
Post-"Emancipation" Era: 1840-1959p. 35
Biblical interpretive approachesp. 37
Intercultural Hermeneuticsp. 41
Outcome: quest for self-identity and self-determinationp. 44
Eisegetics and exegeticsp. 46
Post-"Independence" Era: 1959 onwardsp. 48
Outcome: Economic dependency versus human liberation and social transformationp. 57
Conclusionp. 59
Analysing biblical hermeneutical practices within the Caribbeanp. 67
Introductionp. 67
Biblical hermeneutical practices "on the ground"p. 68
Possible reasons for reading strategiesp. 71
Reflective summaryp. 74
Reading strategies from Caribbean social historyp. 75
Conclusionp. 81
Putting Philemon in its placep. 83
Introductionp. 83
Mode of productionp. 84
Social relations to productionp. 84
Manumissionp. 87
Peculiump. 88
Formation of social class structurep. 89
Pauline theopolitics and slaveryp. 92
Socio-historic environment of Philemonp. 98
Eisegetics and exegeticsp. 100
Conclusionp. 101
"Readings" of Philemonp. 107
Introductionp. 107
The era of slaveryp. 108
Exegetics and eisegeticsp. 116
The contemporary erap. 119
Liberationist Hermeneuticsp. 129
Postcolonial Typep. 133
Eisegetics and exegeticsp. 137
Conclusionp. 138
Towards a biblical resistant hermeneutic within a Caribbean contextp. 144
Introductionp. 144
Component parts of a biblical resistant hermeneuticp. 145
Cultural-literacy consciousnessp. 146
Praxis of resistancep. 153
Text as cultural constructionp. 158
A biblical resistant reading of Philemonp. 161
Brothers or "slaves" of Caribbean "masters"p. 165
Conclusionp. 167
Implications of a biblical resistant hermeneutic within a Caribbean contextp. 170
Introductionp. 170
Defining the Biblep. 171
"Reading" the Biblep. 173
Doing theology from non-traditional sitesp. 175
Understanding the ground and structure of Caribbean religionsp. 181
Structuring spirituality against resistancep. 184
Cultural expressions as hermeneutical practices of resistancep. 187
Cricket as Hermeneutical Practice of Resistancep. 195
Conclusionp. 202
Conclusionp. 207
Bibliographyp. 218
Indexp. 232
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