Postcolonial biblical interpretation

Reframing Paul


In Postcolonial biblical interpretation Jeremy Punt reflects on the nature and value of the postcolonial hermeneutical approach, as it relates to the interpretation of biblical and in particular, Pauline texts. Showing when a socio-politically engaged reading becomes postcolonial, but also what in the term postcolonial both attracts and also creates distance, exegesis from a postcolonial perspective is profiled. The book indicates possible avenues in how postcolonial work can be helpful theoretically to the guild of biblical scholars and to show also how it can be practiced in exegetical work done on biblical texts.

Prices from (excl. VAT):

Add to Cart
Jeremy Punt is Professor of New Testament in the Theology Faculty at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His work focuses on the hermeneutics, past and present, and, critical theory in New Testament interpretation, and of the Pauline letters in particular.
Postcolonial Biblical Interpretation: Reframing Paul represents a welcome perspective on, and contribution to, ongoing conversations about the role and function of postcolonial biblical interpretation—especially with regard to Paul, Pauline traditions, and Pauline studies. Davina C. Lopez", Eckerd College, in: Review of Biblical Literature [] (2016).


1 Possibilities and Prospects of Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: Doing Mind and Road Mapping
Posing the Question(s)
Another Tempest in the Postist World?
Post-isms? Postcolonialism, Poststructuralism and
The Post in Postcolonial?
Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: Criteria and Characteristics
Elements of Postcolonial Hermeneutics: Textuality and Postcolonial Politics
Historical Leanings and a Twofold Archive
The Status of the Texts
Texts and Their Interpretative Traditions
Rereading the Texts: Proficient Rediscovery and Subversive Rereading
“Colonial Mimicry”? Using the Master’s Tools, Indeed!
Postcolonial Contenders?
Cultural Studies and the Bible: A Useful Vantage Point
Postcolonial and Empire Studies
Decolonialising Studies

2 Postcolonial Readings, or Not? Obvious or Impossible?
Aspects of the Hermeneutical Scene from a South African
Why Not Postcolonial Biblical Criticism?
Hermeneutics in Service to the Church and/or the Academy?
Textual Politics and Real Readers in Actual Locations
A Different Status for the Bible
The Role of Tradition(s) of Interpretation
Hybridity Confronts the Nationalist Agenda

3 Postcolonial Theory as Academic Double Agent? Power, Ideology and Postcolonial Hermeneutics
Why Postcolonial Biblical Studies?
Re-Invoking Ideology? Postcolonial as Ideological Criticism
Antipathy towards Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: The Case in Africa
Turf Wars? Unsettling Liberation Theology?
Continuing Struggles about Agency and Identity?
Narrow Academic Enterprise? Ivory-Tower Discourse?
Politically Ambiguous?
A Compromised Bible (and Christian Faith)?

4 Competing Missions in Acts. Countervailing “Missionary” Forces: Empire and Church in Acts
How to Describe Acts’ Position towards Empire?
Social Conventions and Structures of Power
Politics and Religion: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Proselytising: Doing Mission / Making Followers?
Engaging Empire in Acts
Paul’s Position vis-à-vis Empire
Kingdom of God
Political / Military Functionaries
Confluence of Imperial Power and Local Authorities in Acts

5 Paul and Postcolonial Hermeneutics: Marginality and/in Early Biblical Interpretation (2 Cor 10–13)
The Appeal of Postcolonial Biblical Criticism for Pauline Studies
How is a Postcolonial Approach Hermeneutically Helpful?
Roman Empire, Paul, and Discourses of Power
Paul’s Discourse of Power, and the Role of Scripture
Paul, Hermeneutics and Marginality
Paul and Postcolonial Hermeneutics: 2 Corinthians 10–13
Mimicry and Ambivalence: Paul’s Ideological Hermeneutics (2 Cor 10)
Hermeneutics and Othering: Weakness and Paul’s Politics of Difference (2 Cor 11)
Identity and Hybridity: Foolishness and Paul’s Politics of Identity (1 Cor 12:11)
Marginal Hermeneutics: Confluence and Tension (2 Cor 13)
Paul’s Hermeneutical Challenge: Margins and Centre

6 Postcolonial Clashing with Empire in 1 Thessalonians 4–5
Postcolonial Kinds of Approaches to Paul
Ambivalence of an Imperially Inflected Text: 1 Thessalonians 4–5
Anti-Imperial Strands within 1Thessalonians
Ambivalence of Imperial Engagement Given a Colonised Mind-Set
The Negotiation (of Empire) among Subalterns
Overlapping Aspects of Embodiment Including Race and Gender
Conquering Travels as Triumph over Local Peoples

7 Paul, Power and Philemon: “Knowing Your Place”
A Postcolonial Optic on Paul, Philemon and Slavery
Roman Empire and Slavery: A Slave Society
Slavery as Pervasive First-Century Social Institution
Slavery as Ideological Setting: Bodies, Authority, Power, Obedience
Paul, the Letter to Philemon, and Claims to Identity and Power Identity and Difference: The Slave Onesimus
Identity and Mimicry: Slaveholder Philemon and the Apostle
Identity and Hybridity (Philemon and Onesimus, and Paul)
Interpretative Tradition and Remaining Ambivalences

8 Paul, Body, and Resurrection in an Imperial Setting. Considering
Hermeneutics and Power
Introduction: Resurrection and Socio-Historical Context
Jewish Apocalypticism and Paul
Apocalyptic Thinking within and against Empire
Paul, Body and Resurrection
Pauline Bodies and Resurrection
Body Theology in an Imperial Context: Pauline
Paul and Body, Hermeneutics and Power, and Imperial Designs

9 Negotiating Creation in Imperial Times (Romans 8:18–30)
Situating the Argument
Roman Empire and (as) Cosmic Order
Romans 8:18–30 as Imperial-Inflected Text
Overpowered, Subjected Creation
Creation’s Groaning for Redemption
Remaking Creation
Romans 8:18–30, Empire and Ambiguity

10 Conclusion: Pauline Agency in Postcolonial Perspective: Subverter of, or Agent for Empire?
The Problematic Paul
Paul and Empire: Accounting for an Ambivalent Situation
A Postcolonial Optic on Paul and Empire: Power and Agency
Paul, Power and Agency: The Corinthian Community
Challenging Empire? Weakness and Foolishness as Subversion
Paul, Agent for Empire? Asserting Power and Strength


Scholars and interpreters interested in the interplay between interpretation and power, and in the historical and enduring impact of imperialism and colonialism on biblical and especially Pauline interpretation