The Bible and the Third World: Precolonial, Colonial, and Postcolonial Encounters

By R. S. Sugirtharajah | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 8
Postcolonializing biblical interpretation

If post-modernism is at least partially about 'how the world dreams itself to be “American”, then, post-colonialism is about waking from that dream, and learning to dream otherwise.

Diana Brydon

In life one must for ever choose between being one who tells stories and one about whom stories are told.

Shashi Tharoor

Until now liberation hermeneutics has been seen as the distinctive contribution of Third World biblical interpreters. Recently another critical category, postcolonialism, has emerged as its rival, and has staked a claim to represent minority voices. On the face of it, both liberation hermeneutics and postcolonialism share a common interpretative vocation for instance, deideologizing dominant interpretation, a commitment to the Other and distrust of totalizing tendencies. However, a closer look in the last chapter revealed that liberation hermeneutics is still stuck with some of the vices of the modernistic project excessive textualism, disparagement of both major and popular religions and homogenization of the poor. Also it seems shy about breaking with them. What I propose to do first in this chapter is to delineate the characteristics of the new entrant to the critical arena postcolonialism and outline some of its theoretical and praxiological intentions and assumptions; second, to deal with the applicability of postcolonialism to biblical studies; and third, to map out the affinities and differences between postcolonialism and liberation hermeneutics. In the concluding part I will try to answer some of the questions

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