Introduction: Reading the Bible in Asia Today

In: Contextual Biblical Hermeneutics as Multicentric Dialogue

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In the opening chapter of the book, I set out the key concepts that undergird the putting together of this contextual biblical hermeneutic. First, I recognise that the Bible in Asia is mainly mediated through colonialism. In the light of this, biblical interpretation is embedded in two networks of knowledge production. On the one hand, there is the inter-contextual arena of what decolonial thinker, Anibal Quijano (2007) calls the modern/colonial world system where western intellectual traditions are promulgated throughout the world as universal theoretical frameworks. On the other hand, there is the intra-contextual consideration of what José Medina (2006) describes to be ‘polyphonic contextualism’, that is, any geopolitically defined space comprises of networks of epistemic agents that relate to one another hierarchically which give rise to spaces of intelligibility and spaces of marginality. In order to navigate this epistemic terrain, I argue that reading the Bible has to gear towards transformative praxis and identity formation while holding in tension that the Bible should also be seen in its Otherness.

The book is structured into two parts. The first part is the theoretical formulation of a Singaporean reading frame that can be applied to the Bible. Here I outline the main contextual considerations before arguing for a hermeneutic that comprises of two concurrent frameworks – conscientisation and conversation. The second part is where I complete the hermeneutical circle by applying the theory to specific biblical texts in order to on the one hand demonstrate the fruits of the theory, and on the other hand, test its limitations. The biblical texts I have chosen are the stories found in the book of Daniel.