A Postcolonial Survey of the Bible:

Empire, Kinship, and the Way of Jesus

With the ways in which the Bible has been weaponized in our time, we desperately need to decolonize our reading of this ancient text. The white, Western, capitalist framework that has dominated the globe the last few hundred years is collapsing, but not without a fight. This has led to a global neoliberal system where everything is a commodity to be devoured for profit. Ours is an age that calls for prophets and healers. But how do we do that as Christian leaders when Christianity has been the primary ideological center of this destructive worldview? How do we decolonize our understanding of the Bible, and through it decolonize Christian leadership itself, so that in Christ we can transform the world?

The aim of this training is to liberate the Bible from the death grip of Western Christianity. Western systematic theology is essentially white male abstraction, which supports hierarchy, domination, and colonization. We will instead engage postcolonial hermeneutics, or analyzing how power functions at the intersection of politics, economics, and religion. We will see that the bible is a diverse collection of stories, testimonies, and counter-mythologies of an ancient Near Eastern people struggling to restore their humanity in Palestine, the middle of the “cradle of civilization” between Egypt (the Nile) and Mesopotamia (Tigris and Euphrates rivers).

The Bible is really a chronicle of God’s people struggling to come out of imperial idolatry to follow their true God Yahweh. How can the God who liberated the faithful from the Egyptian Empire also liberate them from the exploitation of their own domestic monarchy, and to break the yoke of bondage from the empires of Assyria to Babylon to Persia to Greece to Rome? The prophets pointed to the God of their ancestors who would lead them again into a faithful communal life of resistance, mutual aid, and care for the earth. The way of Jesus was not only a call to village renewal, but a jazz-like improvisation that gave birth to something truly new – salvation for the whole world. The Apostle Paul and the early church would continue this work in centers across the Roman Empire.

- These Courses can be taken separately or as a pair -

Old Testament (June 3-7, 2019)

  1. How Do You Read? Empire & Socio-Political Hermeneutics

  2. A New People Forged: Revolution, Tribes & Jubilee

  3. Like Other Nations: The Rise, Fracture & Fall of Domestic Monarchy

  4. Exile & Return: Israel’s New Life as a Colony Under Empire

  5. The “Progress” of Civilization: Hellenistic Empires & Apocalyptic Resistance

New Testament (June 10-14, 2019)

  1. Rome’s Tribute-Gathering Machine: Palestine in the Time of Jesus

  2. The Gospel of Jesus I: Jubilee Remembrance & Renewal in Galilee

  3. The Gospel of Jesus II: The Way of the Cross & Confrontation with Empire

  4. The Apostle Paul: Forming Counter-Imperial Communities Across the Empire

  5. Faithful Endurance: The Catholic Epistles, Revelation, and the Early Church

Contact laura@undergroundsem.org for more information.

registration information and prices