Christian have to be Careful

During the April 08, 2009 Wednesday Forum, Dr. Elaine Kay Swartzentruber emphasized the importance of post-colonial criticism in reading the holy or religious texts. Some religious texts, especially the Holy Bible which is influenced by colonial power, have to be read carefully to make the readers or Christians not trapped in colonial perspectives which are not relevant nowadays.

Swartzentruber explained that there are many perspectives in understanding post-colonial theory since its emergence 25 years ago. By citing R.S. Sugihartarja?s point of view, she understood that

Postcolonial discourse is not about the territorial ejection of imperial powers or about learning, Caliban-like, the art of cursing the empire. Rather, it is an active interrogation of the hegemonic systems of thought, textual codes and symbolic practices which the West constructed in its domination of colonial subjects. In other words, post-colonialism is concerned with the question of cultural and discursive domination. (R.S.Sugirtharajah, 1998)

Post-colonial theories were introduced to biblical studies in 1990s. Through post-colonial, the Bible is seen as part of imperialism and colonialism in Jewish imagination and Western colonialism. Historical contexts of production, redaction and canonization of Christian texts have to be considered in reading them, including history of interpretations. Furthermore, implementations of the texts in today?s contexts by using other relevant resources are the main purpose of this post-colonial hermeneutic.

Before reading the texts, people should first release the spirit of marginalizing other people to consider the ordinary people?s perspectives and issues with regard to nationalism, identity, ethnicity, gender, state power and colonial domination.

An example for this hermeneutic is the story of a woman in Mark 7: 24-30, that woman has to be seen as a foreign woman who has no identity unlike Jesus and the people around Him. She approached Jesus without a protection from a male and during that time it was dangerous. There is a possibility that the woman is from a higher class than Jesus. The woman was not marginalized by Jesus but rather was protected by Him. At the same time, Jesus did not try to convert her faith. In the story, the woman was changed because she was brave in breaking the boundaries of the norms existing that time, and Jesus justified what she did by healing her child.

In the hermeneutic presented, readers have to be careful in reading a religious text. People have to be aware about colonial interests in the text.

This hermeneutic justifies ‘eisegesis’ approach that makes the texts speak to meet the readers? need, not only what the texts want to convey based on its contexts (exegesis).

The function of the texts to the readers is to make the texts relevant for the people these days and for people to be liberated from colonial interests and impacts.

Hermeneutic is actually the Christians? need to live in facts; that Christians are not part of the Western colonialism but rather to live in their own contexts.

(JMI)

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