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Showing posts from September 15, 2013

Reading the Gospel of John inside a Jeepney

Jeepney hermeneutics is but one among many “Canaanite” readings. And it is a reading that (1) presupposes that the Bible is a “jeep,” an imperializing text, and that said jeep can be (2) transformed into a “jeepney.” Let me offer a brief example using the Gospel of John. Third World theologians have argued for decades that the connection of the Bible, its readers, and its institutions to Western imperialism do not call for special pleading. As Alan Lawson and Chris Tiffin insist: “Imperial relations may have been initially established by guns, guile, and disease, but they were maintained largely by textuality.” Simply put, the Bible was and is the key tool in the “textual takeover of the non-Western world” (Boehmer). Yet, most commentaries and expositions on John available in Philippine seminaries take for granted or do not find problematic the gospel’s imperial rhetoric. Spivey and Smith’s popular introductory text (Anatomy of the New Testament. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995) des…

Reading against "Authorial Intent"

I have been privileged to participate in learning situations that showcase the wealth of Filipino practices and reading strategies that engage the Bible in unexpected ways. The works of Edicio dela Torre and the late Carlos Abesamis offer excellent examples. You can try these: Take a regular Bible Study session among women. Let them role-play a passage in the Bible. Let’s say, Luke 10:38-42, Jesus visits Martha and Mary. In my experience, most women WILL NOT follow the biblical script. They will change the story. In my biblical writings class this term my students, in six groups, role-played the passage and came up with six different interpretations. Not one followed the original script. Take a nursery Sunday School class. Tell the story of Jonah. Most adults will identify with the plight of Jonah, including the nursery teacher. But children have no problem reading the text from the perspective of the fish, the vine, and the worm, all of whom, by the way, obey God. I call these r…

Reading like Canaanites...

Jeepney hermeneutics is an example of “reading like a Canaanite” (see Laura Donaldson and Jace Weaver), “re-invading the land” and "re-claiming stolen spaces" (Leticia Guardiola-Saenz), and beating swords into plowshares. This proposal addresses contextual issues, concrete life settings among Filipinos. “The Canaanites are, of course, the much vilified people who occupied the ‘promised land’ before the arrival of the wandering Israelites. Yet they also stand in for all peoples whose lands have been conquered and expropriated” (Donaldson). Filipinos, as one of the most colonized peoples in the world (Eleazar Fernandez), are modern-day Canaanites. Reading the Bible inside a jeepney simply means creating space, offering a home for Filipino “Canaanites” to think, to speak, to sing, to commune in Canaanite languages.