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Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics

Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics: Problematics, Objectives, Strategies

Francisco Lozada
Fernando F. Segovia
Series: Semeia Studies
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 386
  • Book Info
    Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics
    Book Description:

    Engage essays that are profoundly theological and resolutely social

    In this collection of essays, contributors seek to analyze the vision of the critical task espoused by Latino/a critics. The project explores how such critics approach their vocation as critics in the light of their identity as members of the Latino/a experience and reality. A variety of critics-representing a broad spectrum of the Latino/a American formation, along various axes of identity-address the question in whatever way they deem appropriate: What does it mean to be a Latino/a critic?


    Essays from sixteen scholarsArticles bring together the fields of biblical studies and racial-ethnic studiesConclusion addresses directions for future research

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-655-6
    Subjects: Religion, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction: Approaching Latino/a Biblical Criticism: A Trajectory of Visions and Missions
    (pp. 1-40)
    Fernando F. Segovia

    This project on the identity and role of the Latino/a biblical critic constitutes an exercise in racial-ethnic criticism in general and minority biblical criticism in particular. To express it otherwise: just as minority biblical criticism represents a variation of racial-ethnic criticism, so does an analysis of the critical task as envisioned by minority critics represent a variation of minority biblical criticism. To explain what this variation signifies and entails, it is imperative to conceptualize and formulate its placement within both critical frameworks. Toward this end, I draw on previous reflections, offered as part of a study of the poetics of...

  5. Addressing the Problematic:: What Does It Mean to Be a Latino/a Critic?

    • What Does It Mean to Be a Latino/a Biblical Critic? A Latino Pentecostal Perspective, with Reflections on the Future
      (pp. 43-58)
      Efrain Agosto

      “I have been teaching the Bible since I was fifteen years old.” So began the personal essay to both my application for theological school thirty-five years ago and that for graduate school over thirty years ago. This sentence reflected a couple of matters that I would like to point out at the outset of this study.

      First, at an early age in the Latino/a Pentecostal church in which I grew up, a love for the Bible was instilled, including a sense of its authority, guidance, and literary beauty, but also of its challenges, abuses, and confusion about interpretation for our...

    • Rethinking Latino Hermeneutics: An Atheist Perspective
      (pp. 59-72)
      Hector Avalos

      I am not a Latino biblical scholar. I am a biblical scholar who happens to be Latino. I make this distinction for a number of subtle but significant reasons. While my upbringing as a Mexican American Pentecostal Protestant rendered me intimately acquainted with the Bible, my secularist stance has an even larger influence on the topics and approaches I use in biblical scholarship. In fact, I would say that my experience with a chronic illness (Wegener’s Granulomatosis) explains more of my publications as a biblical scholar than my Latino identity (Avalos 1995, 1999, 2007).

      However, in this chapter I will...

    • Reexamining Ethnicity: Latina/os, Race, and the Bible
      (pp. 73-94)
      Eric D. Barreto

      The run-up to the 2008 presidential election evoked a great deal of reflection in the U.S. media about the state of race relations in the country. That Barack Obama was eventually victorious suggested to many that the country had now entered a “post-race” era. Even though some problems still lingered, some reasoned that the election of America’s first African American president represented a critical step forward, an epochal hinge leading inexorably toward the decimation of the specter of racism. At least, this was one perspective.

      A few months prior to the November election, Jorge Ramos, a news anchor at Univision,...

    • Position Reversal and Hope for the Oppressed
      (pp. 95-106)
      Aída Besançon Spencer

      Not until I kept teaching the Gospel of Luke in light of its overall purpose did I notice to what extent Mary’s Magnificat was similar to Jesus’ own call and primary message. What I discovered is that Mary, as his mother, affected Jesus’ message by reinforcing God’s concern for the oppressed. Why is this significant?

      Two reasons come readily to mind. The first has to do with certain not-always-stated beliefs that women do not affect the world of thought. For example, Thomas De Quincey writes: “Woman, sister, there are some things which you do not execute as well as your...

    • What Does It Mean to Be a Latino Biblical Critic? A Brief Essay
      (pp. 107-120)
      Alejandro F. Botta

      In this essay I am attempting a self-definition, which has proven to be a much more difficult task than I ever expected. Perhaps it is because my reluctant metamorphosis to USian¹ Latino is still unfinished, or perhaps because every attempt at self-definition is an attempt to capture just a moment of our continuous identity flow. As Fernando Segovia has stated, “The concept of Latin(o/a)ness … is neither self-evident nor determinate—self-contained and unchanging; readily accessible to and intelligible by all; bearing the same force throughout, regardless of historical situation or social-cultural formation. It is rather a construct” (2009, 199). Segovia...

    • Forgotten Forebears in the History of North American Biblical Scholarship
      (pp. 121-132)
      Gregory Cuellar

      Within the American guild of biblical scholars, Latina/o biblical interpretation is commonly described as an “emerging hermeneutics.” Conversely, this description suggests that the interpretation of the Bible by Latina/o scholars is new and, in turn, insignificant to the history of the biblical tradition in North America. Indeed, the Latina/o cultural archive reminds us that the history of biblical interpretation in the American hemisphere points back to the centuries after 1492 and the colonial enterprise of the Spanish Empire.

      Almost a hundred years before the publication of theBay State Psalm Book(1640) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Juan de Zumárraga, the first...

    • The Challenges of Latino/a Biblical Criticism
      (pp. 133-150)
      Rubén R. Dupertuis

      The termchallengesin the title of this essay has a number of possible references, some of which are very personal. I was in graduate school working diligently to understand the Acts of the Apostles in the context of rhetorical training and education in the larger Greco-Roman world when I encountered an essay by Fernando Segovia (1995a) in which he critiques the methods that were at the very core of what had, up to that point, been my introduction to biblical and early Christian studies. My reaction was twofold.

      On the one hand, the notion that the social location of...

    • Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics: Problematic, Objectives, Strategies
      (pp. 151-164)
      Cristina García-Alfonso

      What does it mean to be a Latino/a biblical critic is the question we have been asked to ponder in this project. Such a question is wide open, inviting the biblical critic to respond to it from any number of angles. From my perspective, the essence of what constitutes being a Latina biblical critic demands to be answered at a personal level: it is who I am that, in turn, defines me academically as a scholar of Hebrew Bible studies. In order to answer this question, therefore, I shall address the two identities, the two contexts, that shape who I...

    • Reading from No Place: Toward a Hybrid and Ambivalent Study of Scriptures
      (pp. 165-186)
      Jacqueline M. Hidalgo

      One mild December evening, while I was still pursuing a Master of Arts degree, I sat with my elder brother Jorge and my father (also Jorge) around my father’s kitchen table. His kitchen table sits in the same home my parents owned when I was born, a home located in a suburb of San José, Costa Rica. On this particular evening, I was recovering from surgery, sipping water weakly through a straw, when my brother decided it was time to confront my father about a pressing family matter. My brother pointed out that he was now a father who had...

    • Toward Latino/a Biblical Studies: Foregrounding Identities and Transforming Communities
      (pp. 187-202)
      Francisco Lozada Jr.

      What does it mean to do Latino/a biblical studies? In this essay I shall attempt to address this question not by examining a history of the scholarship in the field, but by critically examining the meaning and implication of the three designations in question—Latino/a, biblical, and studies. It is not my intention here to merely define these terms. Rather, this is meant to be a discussion about how these three interlocking components interact to form the basis for how I see myself doing Latino/a biblical studies.

      Latino/a biblical studies, like many other approaches based on ideological and/or contextual frameworks,...

    • Toward a Latino/a Vision/Optic for Biblical Hermeneutics
      (pp. 203-230)
      Rubén Muñoz-Larrondo

      It is impossible to speak in terms of initial explorations in Latino/a hermeneutics, given the number of authors who have been at work on this task over the course of the last twenty to thirty years. The following come readily to mind: Justo González, inMañana Theology(1990); Virgilio Elizondo onmestizaje, inGalilean Journey(1983); Fernando F. Segovia, inDecolonizing Biblical Studies(2000); Ada María Isasi-Díaz onmujeristatheology, inEn la lucha(1993); and Miguel De La Torre and Edwin David Aponte, inHandbook of Latino/a Theologies(2006)—to name but a few. However, the task of fashioning...

    • A Latina Biblical Critic and Intellectual: At the Intersection of Ethnicity, Gender, Hermeneutics, and Faith
      (pp. 231-248)
      Ahida Calderón Pilarski

      This essay emerged as a subsequent study on the question addressed to the inaugural panel of the Latino/a and Latin American Biblical Hermeneutics program unit at the 2008 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).¹ This question lies behind my title: What does it mean to be (in my case) aLatinabiblical critic? This question is perhaps one of the most challenging—and necessary—identity questions that all biblical scholars (substituting, as appropriate, their own ethnic self-designation in place ofLatina) should ask about themselves at some point in their professional careers. My brief response to the...

    • Interpretive World Making: Formulating a Space for a Critical Latino/a Cultural and Biblical Discourse
      (pp. 249-262)
      David Arturo Sánchez

      As I reflect on framing a question concerning the problematics, objectives, and strategies of Latino/a biblical hermeneutics, my thoughts drift immediately to the consideration of the need for such a conversation at all. How have we come to this place where the reality is that such a unique hermeneutical barrio exists? It brings to mind my questioning of the academy that I/we negotiate where departments of Latin American studies, Chicano/a studies, African American studies, Asian American studies, women’s studies, and so on, subsist. Do not all of these departments in some way contribute to the larger umbrella fields and discourses...

    • How Did You Get to Be a Latino Biblical Scholar? Scholarly Identity and Biblical Scholarship
      (pp. 263-296)
      Timothy J. Sandoval

      The short answer to the question “How did you get to be a Latino biblical scholar?” is simple: I am a person of Mexican descent living in the United States with the last name Sandoval,andI earned a PhD in Hebrew Bible. A genuine answer is, however, significantly more complex. It has to do, at least, with what it means in the early twenty-first century to be Latino(a) in the United States (can one really be “Latino” anywhere else?), what it means to be a biblical scholar and to do biblical scholarship, and, of course, exactly what being a...

    • El Sur También Existe: A Proposal for Dialogue between Latin American and Latino/a Hermeneutics
      (pp. 297-320)
      Osvaldo D. Vena

      This famous poem by Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti is a call to recognize that there is a geopolitical southern hemispheric reality that the North tends to ignore and that needs to be brought to its attention. Much to the chagrin of the North, says Benedetti, the South also exists. I would like to use this image in order to throw some light on the goal of this project, which is to bring together in dialogue Latino/a and Latin American biblical scholars who face the challenge of interpreting the Bible from their particular placements and optics in society and culture. In...

  6. Conclusion

    • Advancing Latino/a Biblical Criticism: Visions and Missions for the Future
      (pp. 323-364)
      Fernando F. Segovia

      Latino/a biblical criticism has from the beginning raised the question of critical task: the identity and role of the critic. This problematic it has pursued in recurrent fashion through the years, with greater intensity in recent times. Such focalization may be viewed as the result of various intersecting factors, social as well as cultural: the striking rise in population numbers within the country; the widening presence of points of origin from Latin America and the Caribbean; and the growing sophistication in matters of method and theory within the field of studies. With exploding demographics, multiplying backgrounds, and expanding discourses, the...

    • Latino/a Biblical Interpretation: A Question of Being and/or Practice?
      (pp. 365-370)
      Francisco Lozada Jr.

      This collection of essays on the question of what makes Latino/a biblical interpretation “Latino/a” raises a central and intriguing issue for critics and readers alike: Is identity a matter of being and/or practice? Is the “Latino/a-ness” of an interpretation defined by the personal identity (howsoever defined) of the interpreter? Or is it a matter of how Latino/a biblical interpretation is practiced—that is, are there certain principles, sources, methods (reading strategies), or aims that make some biblical interpretations Latino/a and others not? In this concluding reflection it is not my intention to define Latino/a biblical interpretation in a rigid way,...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 371-372)