Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes

Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes

Article excerpt

Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014. Pp. 166. $20.00, paper.

Empires have always occupied the land of Palestine. Raheb applies this geopolitical insight to historical observations and biblical interpretation from and for a Palestinian context. His geo-political premises unfold in five chapters; his theological perspectives in three; an epilogue, notes, bibliography, and index follow.

The first section concerns history and hermeneutics, informed by postcolonial critique and emergent empire studies. Raheb considers that biblical stories were formulated as the faithful response to occupations but recognizes that these stories are mythologized to marginalize Palestinian existence. Jewish immigration is imaged as a new Exodus and the Israeli victory in 1967 as David vi. Goliath. While Palestinians, rooted in the land of their ancestors, have changed national identities, languages, and religions, they are perceived as Canaanites to be conquered and whose land is to be occupied. These biblical interpretations foster "the culture, narrative, and the theology" (p. 24) for the State of Israel. They are prominent among evangelical millennial ism, postholocaust liberalism, and American Jews, who Raheb claims are blind to the injustices of Israeli occupation.

Palestine is the crossroad of three continents, a buffer zone and battlefield between larger powers, occupied and internally divided. It is not surprising that the history of the Middle East is one of dominance and domination. In the past, Egypt, Syria/Iraq, Persia/Iran, Turkey, and Europe conquered and controlled this area. …

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