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What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics?

What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics?: Reading the New Testament

Tat-siong Benny Liew
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    What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics?
    Book Description:

    This is the first single-authored book on Asian American biblical interpretation. It covers all of the major genres within the New Testament and broadens biblical hermeneutics to cover not only the biblical texts, but also Asian American literature and current films and events like genome research and September 11. Despite its range, the book is organized around three foci: methodology (the distinguishing characteristics or sensibilities of Asian American biblical hermeneutics), community (the politics of inclusion and exclusion), and agency. The work intentionally affirms Asian America as a panethnic coalition while acknowledging the differences within it. In other words, it attempts to balance Asian American panethnicity and heterogeneity, or coalition building and identity politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6557-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. CHAPTER 1 What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics? Medi(t)ations on and for a Conversation
    (pp. 1-17)

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has related his puzzlement when he found out as a student that the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s appointment at the University of Cambridge had gone through a curious circuit. Originally Soyinka was supposed to have been appointed to the faculty of English, but since that faculty did not recognize African literature as a legitimate area of study, he was appointed to the faculty of social anthropology instead. Gates remembers asking his tutor about this development, at the same time expressing his own desire to one day write a doctoral dissertation on “black literature.” According to Gates,...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Reading with Yin Yang Eyes: Negotiating the Ideological Dilemma of a Chinese American Biblical Hermeneutics
    (pp. 18-33)

    As it is well known to all of us, one of the defining—if notthedefining—characteristics of a Chinese person in mainstream U.S. culture is our eyes (Gilman 1999: 98–110).¹ This distinction has elicited such descriptions as “squinty” or “slanted” from those who do not possess it. In Ambrose Bierce’s “The Haunted Valley,” a short story published back in 1870, Chinese eyes had already become the difference marker. The main female character in this story is a dead—and thus passive and silent—Chinese woman in California, Ah Wee, whose physical description is reduced by her killer...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Ambiguous Admittance: Consent and Descent in John’s Community of “Upward” Mobility
    (pp. 34-56)

    The idea of a multiple self, which I put forth toward the end of the previous chapter, happens to be the theme of Hualing Nieh’sMulberry and Peach: Two Women of China(1988). The novel’s protagonist, Mulberry, develops another personality known as Peach as she makes her way from China through Taiwan and finally to the United States. What causes the development of this schizophrenia or yin yang personality is a series of traumatic events that are too complicated to retell here. It is, however, important to point out that throughout her journey, Mulberry / Peach is haunted or hunted...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Overlapping (His)Stories: Reading Acts in Chinese America
    (pp. 57-74)

    Notwithstanding the contradictions, John’s rhetoric regarding a community built upon choice and consent rather than heredity or ancestry (1:13), as well as Jesus’ mysterious and mystifying origin (6:41–42; 7:25–29, 40–52; 8:12–19; 9:28–34; 19:7–9), have a special resonance within the history of Chinese America. I am thinking here not of the rhetoric of the dominant culture that presents the United States as a “melting pot,” but of the reality of “paper families,” which became something like an industry in Chinese America because of (1) the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that explicitly...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Redressing Bodies in Corinth: Racial/Ethnic Politics and Religious Difference in the Context of Empire
    (pp. 75-97)

    With the growing reliance on science of the early twentieth century came a political ideology representing the nation of the United States as a body threatened by infection. During this time, in the words of David Palumbo-Liu, “[a] particular discursive formation evolved that blended science with politics, economics with sociology, national and international interests, within which the nation was imagined as a body that must, through fastidious hygienic measures, guard against what passes from the exterior, excise the cancerous cells that have already penetrated it, and prevent any reproductive act that would compromise the regeneration of its species in an...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Melancholia in Diaspora: Reading Paul’s Psycho-Political Operatives in 1 Corinthians
    (pp. 98-114)

    I suggested in the last chapter that one could and should read 1 Corinthians by paying attention to Paul’s Jewish body within the context of other bodies, including (1) the Greco-Roman bodies of the Corinthians, (2) the Corinthian church body, and (3) the political body of the Roman empire. In 1 Corinthians, Paul spins Jesus’ crucifixion into a complex cycle of death and rebirth. Not only is Jesus himself risen and assured of a resurrection body, but his death also leads to a new life for Paul. Paul becomes an apostle and, in turn, fathers the rebirth of the Corinthians....

  10. CHAPTER 7 Immigrants and Intertexts: Biblical In(ter)ventions in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee
    (pp. 115-133)

    Ever since its “resurrection” from its original publication in 1982, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’sDictee(1995) has attracted considerable critical attention among Asian Americanists.¹ While many have commented onDictee’s language, such as itsheteroglossia(Spahr 1996:26, 31), its postmodern tendencies (Kang 1994: 91–92, 95–96), and even its hypertextual sensibilities (Page 1996), no one has given enough critical attention to its use of biblical language or biblical intertexts. For example, Spahr, who skillfully uses Fredric Jameson’s characterization of postmodern poetics to argueagainstJameson’s caricature of postmodern politics,² lists several intertexts inDictee’s section on “Clio History” that...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Telling Times in (Asian) America: Extraordinary Poetics, Everyday Politics, and Endless Paradoxes
    (pp. 134-146)

    Almost half a century ago, Ernst Käseman claimed that “apocalyptic is the mother of all Christian theology” (1969: 102).¹ Today, we may wonder not only about his encompassing and totalizing “all,” but also about his singular and definitive “mother.” Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, for instance, has declared that Calcutta is her mother, the United States is her stepmother, and that both are nurturing but ugly (1990: 83). To avoid the pitfall of Käseman’s generalization, I note at the outset that I am most interested in investigating how the interjections and interruptions from ancient apocalyptic tradition(s) (a pre-post-erity?) interact with the present...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 147-206)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 207-250)
  14. Index
    (pp. 251-258)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-264)