J. Severino Croatto’s Rereading of Empire in 
Isaiah 47

In: Biblical Interpretation
Gregory L. Cuéllar Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, USA 

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Anyone attempting to engage Latin America’s contributions to the field of biblical studies for the last fifty years cannot avoid the prolific scholarship of José Severino Croatto. His hermeneutical lens reflects a liberationist “rereading” strategy that ethically aims to privilege the lived experiences of oppressed and disenfranchised peoples of the world. Much of Croatto’s liberationist gaze focused on the Isaianic version of Israel’s “founding” message. Here, he oscillates between social critic and biblical exegete in a way that gives his rereading relevant specificity. As a case study into Croatto’s rereading of the materiality of empire in Isaiah, this essay interrogates his exegesis of empire in Isaiah 47 in order to better understand Croatto’s social critique of modern empire. In the end, Croatto’s assessment of empire has as its primary ethical concern the experiences of the oppressed people of Latin America. This explicit social obligation requires that he distill and sustain in full view the materiality of empire inscribed in Second Isaiah’s rhetoric. To achieve this, he harnesses a “sociopolítico” meaning within the text in such way that he makes accessible a theological rhetoric for critiquing the contemporary reality of empire.

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