Contextual Biblical Hermeneutics as Multicentric Dialogue

Towards a Singaporean Reading of Daniel


In this book, Stephen Lim offers a contextual way of reading biblical texts that reconceptualises context as an epistemic space caught between the modern/colonial world system and local networks of knowledge production. In this light, he proposes a multicentric dialogical approach that takes into account the privilege of specialist readers in relation to nonspecialist readers. At the same time, he rethinks what dialogue with the Other means in a particular context, which then decides the conversation partners brought in from the margins. This is applied to his context in Singapore through a reading of Daniel where perspectives from western biblical scholarship, Asian traditions and Singaporean cultural products are brought together to dialogue on issues of transformative praxis and identity formation.

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Stephen Lim, Ph.D. (2016), King’s College London is an adjunct lecturer at Hong Kong Sheng Kong Hui Ming Hua Theological College. His recent publications include The Impe(/a)rative of Dialogue in Asian Hermeneutics within the Modern/Colonial World System: Renegotiating Biblical Pasts for Planetary Futures (Biblical Interpretation, 2017).

Introduction: Reading the Bible in Asia Today
 1 Context and Contextualism
 2 Biblical Scholar as Public Intellectual
 3 The Bible as Dangerous Other
 4 Towards a Singaporean Way of Reading

Part 1: A Singaporean Way of Reading

1 Challenges that Confront Any Attempt to Construct a Contextual Hermeneutic
 1 The Public of Academy: Local Entanglements with the West
 2 The Public of Church: Negotiating Fundamentalism and Its Excesses
 3 The Public of Society: Friend or Foe?
 4 Bringing the Three Publics Together

2 Reading and Nonspecialist Readers: Raising Consciousness
 1 Reading Without: Excluding Nonspecialist Readers
 2 Reading For: Nonspecialist Readers as Passive Recipients
 3 Reading With: In Solidarity with Nonspecialist Readers
 4 Reading From: A Necessary Intervention

3 Reading and the Other: A Framework for Conversation
 1 Who Defines Context?
 2 Dangers of Territorialism
 3 Dialoguing with An(-)Other
 4 Singaporean Biblical Hermeneutic as Multicentric Dialogue

Part 2: From the Abstract to the Concrete: Reading the Stories of Daniel in Singapore

4 Making Connections
 1 Building Bridges
 2 Dynamics of Empires
 3 Contextual Questions

5 Reading Daniel 1 in the Classroom of National Education
 1 Daniel 1: More than Food?
 2 Biblical Scholars: Piety or Protest
 3 Daniel the Confucian Gentleman?
 4 Daniel the Malay Muslim: Between Resistance and Oppression
 5 In Conversation: Biblical Scholars, Confucius and Malays

6 Braving the Furnace of the Lion’s Den in the Lion City
 1 Daniel 3 and 6: Tales of Political Intrigue
 2 Biblical Scholars: Piety or Politics?
 3 Gandhi: Politics of Piety
 4 Singaporean Political Prisoners: Piety and Politics
 5 In Conversation: Biblical Scholars, Satyagrahi and Political Prisoners

7 Whose Dreams?
 1 Dreams and Visions in the Stories of Daniel
 2 Biblical Scholars: Dreams of Falling Empires
 3 Buddhist Interpreters: Dreams of Transcending Empires
 4 Ma: Dreams of Empires?
 5 In Conversation: Biblical Scholars, Buddhist Interpreters and Ma

8 Daniel: From the Ancient Near East to Singapore
 1 Revisiting the Question of Religion and Politics in a Secular Society
 2 Responding to Capitalism: Logic of Purity to Logic of Impurity
 3 Relooking the Bible: Defamiliarising the Familiar
 4 Who is the Christian?
 5 A Debt Unpaid

Conclusion: Possible Futures for Bible and Asia?
 1 Biblical Hermeneutics and Contextualism
 2 Conclusion

Appendix 1: Postcolonial and Decolonial: ‘Same Same but Different’
Mainly scholars in the margins of the West and the Global South who probe the boundaries of gender, class, and race in biblical texts, and anyone concerned with decolonising epistemology and ideas of context in general.
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