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Bible, Borders, Belonging(s)

Bible, Borders, Belonging(s): Engaging Readings from Oceania

Jione Havea
David J. Neville
Elaine M. Wainwright
Series: Semeia Studies
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 300
  • Book Info
    Bible, Borders, Belonging(s)
    Book Description:

    Engaging voices crossing textual limits, race, and ethnic lines

    In this collection of essays, scholars from Oceania open a new dialog regarding the vast, complex, and slippery nature of the Bible and the fluid meanings of borders and belongings. From belonging in a place, a group, or movement to belongings as material and cultural possessions, from borders of a text, discipline, or thought to borders of nations, communities, or bodies, the authors follow the currents of Oceania to the shores of Asia and beyond. Scholars contributing essays include Jeffrey W. Aernie, Merilyn Clark, Jione Havea, Gregory C. Jenks, Jeanette Mathews, Judith E. McKinlay, Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, David J. Neville, John Painter, Kathleen P. Rushton, Ruth Sheridan, Nasili Vaka'uta, and Elaine M. Wainwright. Michele A. Connolly, David M. Gunn, and Mark G. Brett provide responses to the essays.


    Discussion of the impacts of natural disasters and political and ecological upheavals on biblical interpretation and theological reflectionFourteen essays on texts in the Hebrew Bible and New TestamentThree responses to the essays provide a range of views on the topics

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-957-1
    Subjects: Religion, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Engaging Readings

    • Engaging Scriptures from Oceania
      (pp. 3-20)
      Jione Havea

      The Hebrew-Christian Bible was brought to Oceania, a region whose physical borders (especially the sea, which Polynesians callmoana) are deep, fluid, and fiery (the Pacific Rim’s Ring of Fire), on a fleet of boats that also carried geographers, explorers, botanists, missionaries, convicts, and teachers; traders of goods, tools, and in some cases bodies (Blackbirds); and more.* Back then, the Bible wasfresh off the boat¹—tall boats with piercing masts and shadowing sails that crossed the southern seas for various reasons, introducing new ways and fabrics, and adding more languages to an already polylingual and diversely cultured Oceania. The...

    • “Save Us! We Are Perishing!”: Reading Matthew 8:23–27 in the Face of Devastating Floods
      (pp. 21-38)
      Elaine M. Wainwright

      The theme of this collection of essays, “Bible, Borders, Belonging(s),” is evocative, placing together elements that seem quite disparate at first sight. One needs to move around in the space created by the combination of borders and belongings: to what extent do borders render belonging possible or impossible, and, if not impossible, then extremely difficult? And are these borders material as much as social, economic, and political? “Belongings” too conjures up the material elements secure within borders or carried across them as well as sociopolitical and relational belongings. All of these play out not only in the biblical narrative but...

    • Calamity and the Biblical God—Borderline or Line of Belonging? Intratextual Tension in Luke 13
      (pp. 39-56)
      David J. Neville

      Since the turn of the millennium, most years to date have witnessed what are typically described as natural disasters. Some of the more memorable, according to the crass criteria of magnitude and mayhem caused, include the 2001 Gujarat earthquake in India, the 2003 Bam earthquake in Iran, the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and resultant Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China and Cyclone Nargis in Burma, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that caused so much devastation in Japan. For the inhabitants of Otautahi Christchurch in Aotearoa New Zealand, 2011...

    • On the Crossroads between Life and Death: Reading Birth Imagery in John in the Earthquake-Changed Regions of Otautahi Christchurch
      (pp. 57-72)
      Kathleen P. Rushton

      The first earthquake in the Otautahi Christchurch region was magnitude 7.1 at 4:35 a.m. on September 4, 2010. There was some property damage but no loss of life. The second earthquake was magnitude 6.3 on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at lunchtime. It was closer to the city. There were 185 fatalities and numerous injuries. The third earthquake was magnitude 6.3 on June 13, 2011. There was further property damage and some serious injuries but no loss of life. The fourth earthquake was magnitude 6.0 on December 23, 2011. There was further property damage but no serious injuries.¹ Up until April...

    • The Prologue of John: Bridge into a New World
      (pp. 73-92)
      John Painter

      My chosen image to describe the function of John’s prologue is a “bridge,” a bridge from the world of Moses into the narrative world of this Gospel. Others have chosen to speak of the prologue as an “entry” into the Gospel, which implies no bridging function. Harnack adopts a view consistent with the image of a bridge but differs from the approach developed in this chapter, which features British scholars from Westcott to Barrett and some recent objections to commonly held views. Dealing with their objections allows me to develop aspects of my position. Scholars in the Westcott tradition responded...

    • Jewish Readings of the Fourth Gospel: Beyond the Pale?
      (pp. 93-108)
      Ruth Sheridan

      In Bernard Malamud’s award-winning novelThe Fixer, a familiar historical tale is dramatized in narrative form. Set in Tsarist Russia, the story tells of Yakov Bok, a Jewish artisan against whom a “blood libel” is taken out over the brutal murder of a Christian boy. Repeatedly interrogated by equally brutal prison guards, Bok refuses to confess to the crime, which he did not commit. In an attempt to endure his interminable prison stay, one day Bok breaks open the phylacteries left in his cell. He reads the scrolls found within “with excitement and sadness” until, one day, the prison guard...

    • Mapping the Boundaries of Belonging: Another Look at Jacob’s Story
      (pp. 109-124)
      Merilyn Clark

      Border or boundary crossings expose us to new lands and new cultures. Whether the border crossing is forced or voluntary, legal or illegal, welcomed or resisted, we risk challenging our established values, identities, and lifestyles. The longer the stay across the border, the more likely one needs to wrestle with the issue of belonging.

      Oceania is no stranger to border and boundary crossings. An important element of Oceania’s history is that of migrations and settlements, with all the dislocation, disorientation, and new beginnings that accompany those. Contemporaneously, voluntary, legal, and welcomed migration persists into and within Oceania. Some of these...

    • Slipping across Borders and Bordering on Conquest: A Contrapuntal Reading of Numbers 13
      (pp. 125-142)
      Judith E. McKinlay

      Numbers 13: spy story in the book of Numbers. It fits well in this tale of a landless people, escapees from Egyptian imperial power, making their slow, relentless way to another land, anOther people’s land. A tale of a people and a land—to which they are traveling but which remains out of reach, inhabited by Others. It is, as has been long recognized, one episode within the overarching theme of conquest. Of course, it is not nearly as simple as this, for this is sacred Scripture, a work of religious faith. Yet it is also inherently political, a justification...

    • Border Crossing/Body Whoring: Rereading Rahab of Jericho with Native Women
      (pp. 143-156)
      Nāsili Vaka‘uta

      This chapter crosses several borders. First, it crosses into Josh 2 to read Rahab of Jericho from a native woman’s standpoint. Second, it crosses the border of biblical interpretation to negotiate an alternative lens for rereading Rahab of Jericho. The first crossing requires a shift in perspective. This shift begins with departing from imperialist readings of the text (which privilege Joshua, the spies, and the advancing Israelites) and seriously takes the interests of natives, especially women, into account. The second crossing is interventive in orientation. Its goal is to rehabilitate (read: rahab-ilitate) the construction of “native women” in biblical and...

    • Deuteronomy 30: Faithfulness in the Refugee Camps of Moab, Babylonia, and Beyond
      (pp. 157-170)
      Jeanette Mathews

      In the mid-1980s, emerging from a conservative evangelical upbringing that valued Christian otherworldliness above the concrete reality of lived experience, I wrote a small treatise defending the importance of the land for the people of the Hebrew Bible. It focused specifically on the community addressed by Deuteronomy whose land was theirnaḥălâ, their “inheritance,” terminology that evoked the idea of the divine giver as a loving father. Even at that time, I was not insensible to the irony of a people receiving with gratitude a land that was already occupied by others, but my analysis nevertheless paid attention to the...

    • Reading Rizpah across Borders, Cultures, Belongings … to India and Back
      (pp. 171-190)
      Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon

      On the night of August 27, 2008, Abhimanyu Nayak, a marginal farmer from the Barapalli village in the Kandhamal district of Orissa, was asleep on the veranda of his small home. His daughter Ragini was beside him, while his wife, Priyatama, and their son Tukuna were asleep inside.

      Close to midnight a mob of masked men woke him, put a sword to his neck, and asked him if he would renounce Christianity and become a Hindu. When he responded in the negative, they dragged him into the nearby forest and beat him. He pleaded for mercy; he was stripped naked,...

    • Borderless Discipleship: The Syrophoenician Woman as a Christ-Follower in Mark 7:24–30
      (pp. 191-208)
      Jeffrey W. Aernie

      Evaluations of the Markan theme of discipleship frequently revolve around certain rhetorical dualities that are understood to be an outworking of Mark’s specific redaction of the material and his particular theological framework. The narrative function of persons deemed followers of Jesus within the Gospel is consequently characterized along certain lines, such as major versus minor, positive versus negative, or pastoral versus polemical. This type of dualistic characterization, however, seemingly neglects the variegated portrait of disciples and discipleship developed throughout Mark’s narrative. Mark’s portrayal of both the successes and failures of Christ-followers emphasizes the need for a more nuanced understanding of...

    • Bare Feet Welcome: Redeemer Xs Moses @ Enaim
      (pp. 209-222)
      Jione Havea

      This chapter is a song, but not a song in the expected sense, nor in the way of reggae, which is what hops and hips in my neighborhood, and my generation of islanders, but in the way that it istalanoa(see below) on ancient texts that function in ways similar to how songlines (dreaming, legends) serve Australia’s First People. Scriptures, talanoa, and songlines are boundaries that make me belong, most of the time, especially when i² sing those as “myths of belongings.” This chapter is a song also in the sense that it challenges those who, as Bob Marley...

    • The Sign of Jonah: Reading Jonah on the Boundaries and from the Boundaries
      (pp. 223-238)
      Gregory C. Jenks

      In this essay I engage in an intertextual reading (cf. Fewell 1992; Hays et al. 2009) of Jonah. This particular reading will not focus exclusively on biblical intertexts, as for instance in the intertextual reading by Kim (2007). Rather, the starting point for this reading is the story of those edgy places where my life so far has been lived out.¹ I shall come to the canonical text soon enough, but first I begin with the personal. In particular, I start with the personal boundaries and those border spaces—physical and psychological—where my sense of belonging has been both...

  4. Engaging Responses

    • Gospel Maps: Intersections of Life
      (pp. 241-248)
      Michele A. Connolly

      In articles ranging across all four canonical Gospels, five authors read maps of human, divine, and cosmic interaction. Here, old exclusory borders are dissolved and new threads of belonging are spun.

      Elaine M. Wainwright’s “Save Us! We Are Perishing!” brings a poetic sensibility to scholarly reading of a biblical text. Wainwright works with the concepts of borders and belonging while reading Matt 8:23–27 from an ecological perspective. Wainwright is ultimately interested in an ethic for living with the cosmos as it unfolds, an ethic informed by the vision ofbasileiaproclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth.

      Driving her argument are...

    • Breaking Bible Boundaries
      (pp. 249-258)
      David M. Gunn

      Invited to respond to the opening chapter, Jione Havea’s “Engaging Scriptures from Oceania,” and four other chapters, I would like, through them, to engage further with the topic of Scripture as a boundary.

      Havea’s charge is that the Bible is going stale in Oceania, that its freshness (or not) depends on its readers, and that he is one of those who believes that “the Bible is worth keeping fresh,” even in a region that was colonized with the help of missionaries and their Bible. Clearly this volume is designed to encourage such a project by bringing into the interpretive process...

    • Bordering on Redemption
      (pp. 259-268)
      Mark G. Brett

      I was asked to respond in particular to the contributions from Jeanette Mathews, Monica Melanchthon, Jione Havea (his chapter on barefoot liminality), and Gregory Jenks. Reading through these papers provoked a very welcome sense not just of the authors’ biographies, weaving in and out of the engagements with biblical texts, but of the wider political narratives that resonate through these readers’ lives as they seek to engage with a classical literary canon.

      The very idea of a canon, with its evocations of borders and belonging, illustrates the complexity of the issues at stake. Of course there are the familiar variations...

  5. Index of Primary Texts
    (pp. 273-280)
  6. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 281-286)
  7. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 287-290)