Reading the Epistle of James with Socioeconomically Marginalized Immigrants in the Southern United States

in Pneuma
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Abstract

The themes of possessions and socioeconomic injustice have caught the attention of scholars of the Epistle of James in recent years. Nevertheless, most biblical scholars still focus primarily on the epistle’s historical aspects, a notable exception being Latin American scholars. Yet, even though many of these have interpreted James from the perspective of their context of socioeconomic exploitation, their readings do not report how people themselves understand and use biblical texts.1 This article explores the themes of wealth, poverty, and marginality in James using empirical hermeneutics. For this purpose, a group of Latino/a pentecostal believers in the southern United States read James 1:1–11 and 5:1–8 in a small Bible study group from the perspective of their religious experience, social marginalization, and economic exploitation. This article includes a report of the group’s reading of the above-mentioned passages, along with theological and practical reflections aimed at churches and practitioners.