An Indigenous Jesus: Methodological and Theoretical Intersections in the Comparative Study of Religion

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Simon J. Joseph Lecturer in Early Christianity, Interdepartmental Program for the Study of Religion, University of California Los Angeles, CA USA

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Indigeneity is a relational category that is predominantly, albeit not exclusively, applicable to Indigenous peoples. As a central theoretical site of discourse in Native Studies, indigeneity tends to be characterized by politicized relationships and provides powerful rhetorical strategies and counter-narratives. Facilitating decolonization as well as illuminating the structural and systemic relationships between the indigenous and the colonial, Indigenous theory recognizes the often complex inter-relationships attending the delineation of ethnic, social, and religious identity. The historical Black Elk, for example, illustrates how Lakota and Catholic religious identities co-exist in an ongoing site of discursive tension. This article argues that the historical figure of Jesus can be re-cognized as an indigenous Judean, complicating contemporary efforts in which the quest for the historical Jesus occurs in a predominantly Christian discursive context.

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