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Abstract

This chapter serves to set the background for the reading of the stories of Daniel in the context of Singapore. I do so by drawing key connections between the ancient and modern contexts with the help of world historian Michael Mann (1986; 2013). He proposes a heuristic theoretical framework arguing that social power is consistently contested by four interlocking networks – ideological, political, economic and military. As my primary interest is in reading the Bible and the main place of religion has constantly been in the ideological network of power, I focus mainly on how legitimacy is garnered in both modern and ancient contexts so as to set up the key points of the negotiation that the Bible enters into. However I do still factor in the other three networks looking at how economies are structured, political structures are set up and military might is used to maintain peace within the boundaries of empire.

Bringing the networks of social power both past and present together, I argue that from the perspective of praxis, the key questions are: What is the perception of empire in the stories of Daniel in the light of the networks of power illustrated above? How would standpoints from the West, Asia and Singapore help a reader such as myself identify different modes of praxis within biblical texts? More crucially, which of these modes ought to be embraced, adapted or problematised? Moving to the question of identity formation, the key questions are: How would a multicentric mode of reading texts renegotiate the interpellation of desire by dominant interpretive powers of the state and the West? More importantly, how would it seek to realign readers such as myself with submerged identities both in ancient and contemporary contexts in hope of pluralising their consciousness?