Friday, March 17, 2006

Evangelical Liberation Theology?

In light of the recent spate of discussions on faith and scholarship, I thought I'd throw out a few resources/comments I've found interesting. Craig Blomberg has an interesting article available on the importance of global perspectives in hermeneutics:
http://www.etsjets.org/jets/journal/38/38-04/38-4-pp581-593_JETS.pdf. See also "The Globalization of Biblical Interpretation: A Test Case--John 3-4," BBR (1995), and "Implications of Globalization for Biblical Understanding," The Globalization of Theological Education (Orbis, 1993).

He's also done a fair bit of work with liberation theology from an evangelical perspective; see "The Liberation of Illegitimacy: Women and Rulers in Matthew 1-2," BTB 21 (1991), 145-150; and "Your Faith Has Made You Whole: The Evangelical Liberation Theology of Jesus," Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ (Eerdmans, 1994), 75-93 --I haven't read the latter myself. Incidentally, I'm taking issue with parts of Blomberg's view of the women in Matt 1 in my dissertation, though I think the underlying "liberation" element is part of what's "in the text," and can be easily borne out of the text by the reader.

Note the interesting comments on Blomberg at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Blomberg.

Evangelical Reader Response/Narrative Criticism?

Mark Alan Powell is one of my favorite Matthew scholars; Chasing the Eastern Star: Adventures in Reader-Reponse Criticism (WJK Press, 2001) is an under-appreciated text, I think; a great introduction to the question and a whale of a lot of fun to read, with good interaction in the endnotes. Interestingly, he makes room for what he calls "evangelical reader response criticism." Now, I'm not sure what this means, but my curiosity is piqued. Anyone care to take a guess at what he means here? Perhaps it is the sort of things that Blomberg has done above, ascribing "evangelical" to Jesus.

Powell is far from being the most conservative person I know, and that makes his remarks interesting:

Stephen Moore claims that poststructuralism finds narrative criticism intrinsically repulsive when the latter is exercised from a perspective of evangelical faith (Poststructuralism and the New Testament, 116). Why should this be so, when that perspective is clearly acknowledged? Even Moore seems ready to give a poststructuralist seal of approval to other (acknowledged) ideological or resistant reading strategies. I have never been able to see the logic in a position that I sometimes encounter at academic meetings devoted to biblical scholarship, namely, that which maintains the legitimacy of reading biblical texts from diverse ideological perspectives (feminist, Marxist, etc.) but denies the legitimacy of reading those texts from the perspective of evangelical Christianity. Why should the gospel of Christ be the only unacceptable philosophy? (235 n. 352)

Powell follows this up with another good footnote, 355. Elsewhere, however, he is much cozier with A.K.M. Adam, Moore and others.

In light of all this, is it fair to make a case for "evangelical liberation theology" or "evangelical reader response criticism/narrative criticism"? There are some evangelicals ("fundies," kata Bird) who still think they're being completely objective, of course, and some evangelicals who reject both of these strands of scholarship. But for more secular folks, is it legitimate to marry these? Should they be re-branded with a different name, or is the "evangelical" adjective sufficient?

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