Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review of empowerment ethics

Review of Empowerment Ethics for a Liberated People (Fortress, 1995)

by Yung Suk Kim

Cheryl Sanders in Empowerment Ethics claims that empowerment is the "process by which an individual or group conveys to others the authority to act" (2). She finds the source of empowerment in God, by affirming that "God is the ultimate source of norms of personal morality" (42). Her claim is that through spiritual, individual empowerment each individual can be a moral agent who is free to do and contribute to a larger community. The writer tries to find the source of ethical guidance available, facing the issue of African American moral progress, because she is not satisfied with a biased view of liberals who emphasized freedom from rather than freedom to do or to be. Likewise, the author is not content with liberal theologians' moral critique of the oppressing group, because liberal theology looks to others for freedom or deliverance.

This book tries to show "how the ethical frame of reference for the spiritually empowered individual can be expanded into the interpersonal realm" (7). According to Sanders, salvation is more like an experience of individual empowerment (7). But this individual empowerment is transferred to a larger community. She critiques liberals' emphasis on "freedom from oppression and discrimination"; "the moral and spiritual significance of personal formation too easily become obscured" (7).

In order to support her claim about the focus on individual empowerment, the writer presents seven aspects of empowerment ethics paradigm: testimony, protest, uplift, cooperation, achievement, remoralization and ministry. First of all, in the story of the early black converted, the writer traces the testimony of them who accepted the "divine commission to call others to participate in the new age of God's reign and restoration" (25). "For many slaves whose testimonies of conversion to Christianity affirmed their humanity before God and the worshiping community, spiritual empowerment occasioned also prayerful participation in the pursuit of freedom and justice" (25).

Second, the author points out errors of black middle class leaderships which "give too much attention to the struggle against the "enemy without," while the "enemy within" goes unchecked" (36). Furthermore, Sanders tells of serious internal enemy, "nihilism" - "the profound sense of psychological depression, personal worthlessness, and social despair so widespread in Black America" (40). She affirms the need for "self-help ethic" by pointing out the internal enemy (36).

Third, in "achievement" aspect she gives us three ethical principles: "autonomy, commitment, and love" (85). Here she uses metaphor of a wheel; "love as its hub, and three principles at its spokes" (87). Furthermore, she uses Pauline formulation of Christian ethics as faith, hope and love. Faith is willingness to move; hope as vision, and love as empowerment to move (88).

Fourth, she presents "remoralization" aspect of empowerment ethics where she says it is the "inter-relatedness of personal and social transformation (two dimensions)" (104). Finally, the writer uses the aspect of "ministry" (118). Ministry is none other than "the ministry of empowerment" (115).

With my reading of this book, first of all, my world view has been reconfirmed by the author's reclaiming of personal, communal, and spiritual empowerment within Christian faith. In retrospect, my upbringing emphasized personal conversion, but later on, during the time of academic period and even so far, I have been preoccupied by external change, that is to say, liberal approach to social, ethical issues. But through this book, I honor original personal conversion with an adjusted and more balanced sense.

Second, I like her statement that God is our ultimate source of moral guidance. Starting point is God where personal relationship with God is established. Based on this loving relationship, the converted persons are called to live out Christian life and to serve others and to empower others.

Third learning about this book is that I now can get the sense of balance in my world view. There are two dimensions of life: personal and communal. The important approach in liberating people from oppression or poverty or from whatever situations would be not "either or" but "both and." By this I mean that we need to see both personal and communal dimensions, because a community or society is not just sum of individuals. There is another dimension that cannot be solved by naïve approach of personal, spiritual formation. Thus balance between personal and communal dimension is crucial to fostering morally strong society.

However, Sanders does not give much attention to the collective power issue in reality because society too often moves in a different direction beyond each person's intention or morality. If she had shed light on evil of structures (power issue), more balance would have been accomplished.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review of Korean Preaching

Review of Jung Young Lee, Korean Preaching

by Yung Suk Kim

In his book Korean Preaching, Jung Young Lee states that the practice of Korean preaching should be reformed and that it needs to be strengthened by keeping the cultural root of Korean traditional religions. According to the author, an inherited culture of Koreanness validates Korean preaching in a creative way. Moreover, he envisions a new preaching that embodies Korean American identity in a multicultural society.

Lee approaches Korean preaching from the point of a Korean culture. That is to say, Korean preaching is evaluated and understood through the vantage point of culture. This culture of Koreanness has been shaped and was handed down through the ages of religious, cultural synthesis of Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Because of this kind of cultural approach to Korean preaching, Lee sees both the positive and the negative influence of Korean culture on Korean preaching. By positive side he affirms Korean cultural root and asks Korean preachers to reaffirm that inherited Koreanness in a way that Korean preaching can contribute to the multicultural society. By negative side he warns Korean preachers to change the practice of Korean preaching, because Korean preachers' shamanistic orientation of visible, materialistic blessings is distant from the gospel preaching. That kind of preaching alienates Korean churches from the other social religious groups. Lee moves on to the discussion of how Korean preaching has been ineffective in living out prophetic witness to the Word of God (Christ). First of all, the author points out the unhealthy phenomenon of Korean preaching that has been caused by distortion of the gospel. That phenomenon has to do with the materialistic blessings and the otherworldly escapism as typical examples. This phenomenon is evident especially when the characteristics of Shamanism are mixed with modern materialism and the early Protestant missionaries' pietistic orientation (fundamental and evangelical). According to Lee, this distortion took place not only because of preachers' shamanistic orientation (as a charismatic figure) but also because of the church members' need for the immediate and visible blessings. This orientation blinds both preachers and members of the churches, because this orientation does not take the gospel as seriously as the gospel needs prophetic justice in the real world. In the meantime, Lee points out that the ardent prayer meetings and revival meetings are an influence of Shamanism, and the early Morning Prayer meeting is of Buddhism. As a matter of fact, the author does not reject the Shamanic, Buddhist and Confucian elements themselves in the churches. The problem is the preachers' mind and heart that they do not concern the situation of the poor and the oppressed around them. Instead, the orientation of materialistic, individualistic and this worldly blessing intoxicated them.

What, then, does Lee say to this undesirable phenomenon of Korean American preaching? He does not reject the received religious heritage as a whole. Rather, Lee suggests that the Korean American preachers reaffirm Koreanness in a creative way in the new Korean American context. This means that the preacher needs to preach the gospel involving prophetic witnessing in everyday lives, while using Koreanness of ardent prayer. By doing so, Lee says that Korean preaching can contribute to the American churches in a multicultural society. This influence of Korean cultural, religious heritage such as the early morning prayer meetings, zeal for scripture study, respect for the elder make Korean preaching distinctive. In fact, Korean churches have grown faster than any other churches because of this kind of cultural and religious tradition of Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Lee now presents desirable Korean preaching in a Korean American context. First of all, Korean preaching should be based on the preacher's play of the whole body in a sense that a preacher interprets the scripture in view of context and his/her audiences. In other words, the preacher's real life stories should be interwoven with a text and a congregation, in a way that the preacher and the congregation is united around the preacher's central act of preaching in worship service. A corollary is that Korean preaching is changed from a doctrinal, deductive approach to an inductive and a contextual one. With the preacher's active play of the text and the congregation, preaching becomes folktales, stories and dramas. The other aspect of desirable preaching has to do with the faithful interpretation of the text in light of historical exegetical methods.

Unfortunately, Korean preaching has been dominated by allegorical interpretation. In fact, Lee's urge to use exegetical methods together with story telling shows his social commitment in Christ. In other words, for the author the ministry of Korean preaching is none other than the direct involvement in Christian witness. He believes that through the faithful interpretation of the scriptures we can live for God's justice.

Thus so far as we observed in this report, Lee may contribute to the improvement of Korean preaching in the Korean American churches and shed light on the way of Korean preaching today and the future. His most important insight is his cultural confidence in Koreanness by which Korean preaching can be distinctive. And at the same time it is his accomplishment that the practice of Korean preaching should be reformed because of distortion of it. In fact, Korean churches have enjoyed fast growth in terms of numbers, the reality of that growth does not look sound because Korean churches remained silent about society's needs. He showed this aspect of Korean church by pointing out the wrong application of Christian gospel with syncretistic influence on the Korean churches. At this point, Lee's imperative to challenge Korean preachers to preach differently, by embracing bodily embodiment of the gospel is very constructive to the preaching pulpits of the Korean churches, especially when we are entering the 21st century's new ministry world. Lee's challenge is at this point very fresh and sound because he embraces both Korean culture and the gospel. Bodily embodiment of preaching is closely related with the gospel of suffering and liberation through which people live out the gospel in their daily lives.

Despite several strong points, I cannot go on without pointing out some weak points. Lee's presumption about culture is very strong. In other words, he seems to be a culture-bound or a culture-destined person, who really believes that a person is solely influenced by the culture (including religions). He didn't present or talk about an evidence of a strong connection between culture and Koreanness (our being as a Korean). There might be other factors to affect our being as a Korean: education, politics, social psychology, personality, aesthetics, and so forth. It might be true those Korean cultural, religious characteristics of Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism is the most important part of Korean culture today. But his argument is very weak; Lee did not open up any room for us to examine other possible relationships between the salient practices such as the early Morning Prayer meetings and the traditional religions' influence. For example, the possible connection between the two can be found in the modern politics, international trade and businesses, economy, social science, philosophy and psychology, and so forth. In fact, Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism are not the only product of Korea and it has been prevalent in other countries as well. And the question is why especially Koreans are so caught up in that religious traditions in such way that Korean Christians are so much influenced by those traditional religions. I feel somehow that Shamanism for example has been oversold to the outsiders and academia in general. In reality, for the people of young generations who live both in America and Korea, Shamanism is not very part of their lives any more. Furthermore, Lee didn't discuss about the relationship between Christ and culture, even though he discussed about preaching on the basis of his presumption about culture and Christ. According to Richard Niebuhr's book, Christ and Culture, there are many different relationships between the two: Christ against culture, the Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and Culture in paradox and Christ the Transformer of Culture (Niebuhr, 1951). Lee does not clearly show his position about that relationship. His consistent mind-set seems to be a both-and approach or at least a synthesis of Christ and culture. Finally, his approach about preaching is a very human-centered one. Preaching is not a "human response to the Word of God" (Lee, 58). It is rather dialectical in its relationship among God's Word, the preacher and the congregation. He said that "the embodied self is being disclosed and given to the congregation" (Lee, 65) and also said "preaching is the offering of myself" (Lee, 65). If one role of preaching is to communicate the gospel to a congregation, the gospel or Christ is to be preached. Maybe preaching can be the offering of Christ in essence. Because preaching functions in many ways, depending on the occasions and the congregations, the only possible event of offering oneself (as a preacher) is not complete so far as preaching is concerned. "Myself-centered" preaching might be dangerous; a preacher is different from a shaman who plays with self-centeredness. A Shaman is concerned about his/her well-being in reality though he/she appears to bless for the others.

In conclusion, though there are substantial weak points in Lee's book, readers are again and again asked to reflect on the validity of an ethnic preaching. One challenge is as to how Korean preachers cross Korean boundary on one hand and how they keep Koreanness on the other hand. It sounds paradoxical. Though his vision seems to be based on syncretistic religious romanticism, his zeal for living preaching with prophetic faith in a multicultural society should be appreciated.

Book review of "Santa Biblia"

Yung Suk Kim

Book review of SANTA BIBLIA

In his book Santa Biblia, Gonzalez claims that interpretation of the Bible should be balanced in terms of variety of perspectives. Thus the Bible cannot be interpreted unilaterally by the so-called center group (the dominant culture, middle-class, academic circle etc.); Rather, it is to be the source of hope and strength for the powerless and the poor by reading the text interactively (true dialogue between reader and the text). In other words, the Bible should be read with a perspective; the text speaks to the reader but also the reader speaks to the text. The text should address us where we are: our contexts. Thus, reading of the Bible should be contextual (Gonzalez 16, 17).

On this basis of contextualization, the writer affirms that the Hispanic perspective can give the Christian community a new insight to the reading of the Bible. The new insight will be the importance of a variety of views by which the wholeness of the church (universal church) can be seen better than each group of perspective sees. Furthermore, he reclaims the true gospel message's transforming power in a way that marginal paradigms (marginality, poverty, mestizaje, exile and aliens and solidarity) should play a role in the Christian community. In this approach, he eventually tries to solve the problem of marginality by reaffirming the power of marginality which has been embedded in the Bible stories. The writer's wish is that the Bible be the source of hope and strength to all who want to live out the true gospel in solidarity with the marginalized.

Gonzalez supports his claim about the importance of Hispanic paradigms in several ways. First, he believes that there is no such an objective knowledge that can illumine the truth (15). The marginal view is another angle to be reclaimed. In this way, many distortions about biblical interpretations can be corrected, and the overlooked things are reclaimed: for instance, when Jesus' parables and the Sabbath law of the Ten Commandment are viewed from "the perspective of the poor," they have a new meaning: reversal of society's justice like "give and take," thereby reclaiming deeper level of justice by giving due return to all (58). Likewise, he points to the right to work and justice of God: fair distribution to people who need for their lives (61-64).

Second, the author takes examples of marginal stories in the Bible. To take a few of them: Abraham's call, Ruth's choice, Joseph's life in Egypt, and Paul's gentile mission. The history of Israel began with the call of Abraham. He had to leave for an unknown land as an alien but with faith in God and with hope for the unseen future. Since then, God has remembered the aliens and strangers and moved them toward a more inclusive community (89). Gonzalez affirms that the Bible itself is the story of people of the voiceless but with voices. Their voices were calling God's name. In the midst of difficulties and despair, God was with them. Their powerlessness was their opportunity to call God. In return, God gives them hope and energy to overcome hardships.

Finally, Gonzalez leads us to the very history of Christianity and Jesus. He states that the history of Christianity is "the conversion of Christianity" as suggested in the encounter of Peter with Cornelius (51). The center, Peter realized a new meaning of the gospel through his encounter with the marginalized person, Cornelius. In other words, he insists on the so-called "border approach" - the encounter of "two cultures and two worldviews" (86). At this point, the writer even portrays Jesus as mestizo Jesus (90). In a sense, he seems to state that to be a good Christian implies that each has to live out "mestizaje" in one's daily life, in ways that on one hand, each lives in solidarity with the poor, the powerless and the marginalized, on the other hand, each needs to reaffirm one's own "mestizaje" in the very being of Christian (87).

This book gave me new insights to the biblical interpretation that the process of interpretation involves a perspective that can contribute to the larger community of faith. There is the one universal church as one body of Christ, but there are many members in it with many perspectives and many different stories. But diversity is the essential factor in enriching others and the whole church by opening ourselves to listen to other views. In this sense, communication among Christians and ecumenical efforts toward the more inclusive communities is crucial.

Another insight is the need to strike a balance between theology and practice. Being disciples means living out the Christian gospel - good news to everybody - by seeking good news from the Bible and living it out in everyday life.

The last insight is that mission takes place at the borders. Mutual interaction in those places is very important. This border mission implies that we all need to seek out those who occupy a different place on Christian landscape and be ready to change ourselves as the new understanding of our faith challenges us. Gospel or good news is permeated through this border area because God is closer to the people of struggle who desperately need help and hope for the future. New history and new beginning take place at the border. I need to participate in that border in solidarity with the marginalized. I have a strong conviction that my "sitz-im-leben" - the similar experiences as the latinos/latinas - will be used for making my border mission happen.

I have to point out small weaknesses in this book, though. It is the danger of relativism. If all theologies are perspectival and contextual, all are good in their contexts. What is the central place or criteria to affirm a kind of universal truth in the world? Human perspectives are emphasized too much. This being the case, the question is where does God stand? My question is about God's place in our different perspectives. Had Gonzalez developed this point of divine initiative, he would have avoided this problem of his overemphasis on human perspective. That is to say, the Holy Spirit's work through our ministry should have been elaborated in order that each perspective can be valid.

Another problem is that Gonzalez did not explicitly show the importance of community in his development of the perspectival view of the Hispanic paradigms. Though he posed general Hispanic paradigms from the whole Hispanic community, one thing he overlooked is how each perspective can be checked and filtered through the larger communities. In other words, it is about how Hispanic view can be balanced among the universal church. What other perspectives are available to see a complete picture of the landscape, and how can we get closer to them? Even though he suggested the contrasting and dominating views in the discussion of the Hispanic paradigms, if he had elaborated about other views which could show the other part of the landscape the Hispanic lens could easily miss, I would have had the more sense of balance in this book.

*NOTE:  Biblical Interpretation: Theory, Process, and Criteria.

Book review of "Jesus: a New Vision"

Yung Suk Kim

Review of Marcus Borg, Jesus: a New Vision

In his book Jesus: A New Vision, Borg advocates a new image of Jesus: a person filled with the Spirit who sought to transform the social world of first-century Palestine by the politics of compassion (an alternative consciousness) against culture's conventional wisdom and the politics of holiness.

Borg's scholarly study and reflection on the historical Jesus began with rejecting the two dominant images of Jesus. The first, popular image of Jesus is a divine being who came to the world to die for the redemption of sinners and then ascended to the heaven. The second image is the eschatological prophet, who mistakenly predicted the end of the world in his own time. Borg rejects the first image because it portrays Jesus through the faith lens of post-Easter Christians. Such portrayal is distant from the historical Jesus' life and death. He also refuses to take the second image of skepticism about the historical Jesus because it depicts Jesus only as the eschatological prophet -- who failed to bring about the end of the world. Against these two images, Borg emphasizes the importance of the historical Jesus viewed from a new angle of knowing what Jesus was: a Spirit-filled person in the charismatic stream of Judaism.

To support his thesis that Jesus was a Spirit-filled person who sought to change the religious social world of first-century Palestine, Borg works on the two organizing principles: Spirit and culture. Borg claims that the world of the Spirit is real and Jesus had deep, intimate relationships with the Spirit. The author does not stop here but relates this reality of the Spirit with culture. That is to say, a Spirit-filled person could not remove himself from the culture in which he lived.

In discussing the world of the Spirit, the author states that the reality of the Spirit has been present not only in the biblical tradition and but also in the social, scientific studies of paranormal experiences (universal primordial tradition). In the biblical tradition, Israel's story itself was the story of the interaction between the world of the Spirit and the world of ordinary experiences. The Spirit of the world became part of their lives. Moses and the prophets were also Spirit-filled mediators. In social, scientific studies of paranormal experiences, cross-culturally, the world of Spirit has been also accessed by the charismatic who entered it and experienced the world of the Spirit.

Borg says that the biblical tradition of Spirit-filled mediators is very significant to understanding the historical Jesus. The reality of the another world (the invisible world of the Spirit) was not unusual to those people of the ancient world, unlike the modern people who disregard the reality of the invisible world simply because it seems to be unscientific, superstitious, or psychotic.

Borg also argues that Jesus stood in the ecstatic, mystical tradition of biblical and Jewish religion. He lists the examples of this trait demonstrated by his internal life: his prayer life, the visions he experienced, his sense of intimacy with God. All his life was full of ecstatic, mystical experiences with the Spirit. He was a person of the Spirit. A corollary was that Jesus as a Spirit-filled person evidenced his life of the Spirit by the mighty deeds of exorcisms and healing. Exorcism and healing are good examples which demonstrate his charismatic power that flowed out of his deep encounter with the Spirit.

In discussing Jesus' relation to the culture, Borg shows a contrast between the politics of holiness and the politics of compassion. The social world of first-century Palestine was under the pressure of Roman occupation and was operated by the politics of holiness, which separated the pure from the impure, and insiders from outsiders. But Jesus challenged with the politics of compassion, this prevailing holiness-ridden culture and the conventional wisdom of that social world, which centers around "family, wealth, honor, and virtue, all shaped by a religious framework" (81). This self-oriented culture was a focus of transformation. Jesus was filled with God?s compassion to change his social world into a transforming community of compassion filled with love, acceptance, and inclusiveness.

Borg, then, using four social, religious types, portrays Jesus, as sage, revitalization movement founder, prophet, and challenge. First of all, Jesus, as sage, was both radical and subversive. Jesus critiqued the conventional wisdom of the Jewish social world by asking his people to turn to God rather than to their religion of holiness politics. Spirit-filled Jesus called his people to center themselves on God and to change their hearts and minds so that they see things in a new way: the narrow way, the way of "dying to the self" in place of the broad way that seeks wealth, power, honor, and this-worldly securities.

Second, as revitalization movement founder, Jesus focused on the renewal of Israel rather than creating a new religion, in the midst of a crisis in the Jewish social world: "the growing internal division within Jewish society, and the deepening of the conflict with Rome" (142). Jesus? renewal movement is summarized by his "alternative community with an alternative consciousness" rooted in the Spirit (142). His alternative consciousness is to reverse the dominant consciousness of conventional wisdom through his vision of transforming Israel. Jesus calls his people to change their consciousness of holiness politics. Borg states that revitalization movement stayed in the frame of Judaism. He put this rightly: "Jesus remained deeply Jewish, even as he radicalized Judaism" (141).

Third, as a prophet, Jesus similarly assumes the job of traditional prophets who indict, threaten, and call to change. Borg points out that "the purpose of the prophets was not to reveal the future but to change it" (154). The author also points out that Jesus was not really speaking about the final judgment or about the kingdom of God that would come very soon. But Jesus' concern was just to change the present lives of his people by speaking out prophetic utterances to bring about the real change of heart to God-centered.
Finally, Borg picture Jesus as a challenge; Jesus risked his life and went to Jerusalem to issue the call to change, and "to make a final appeal" to his people at the center of their national and religious life (172). Borg states that the death of Jesus would be the result of his sojourn in Jerusalem, not the purpose of his journey. Jesus was killed because he sought to transform his own culture, in the power of the Spirit.

This book sheds a fresh light on the understanding of the historical Jesus. A new image of Jesus as a Spirit-filled person is very relevant to the contemporary church and moderns as well. The first significance or relevance is that the reality of another dimension (the world of the Spirit) is real beyond the visible world. Moderns are so caught up with the first dimension of the material world that they cannot consider things to be real if they do not see them. They are so boastful of the power of human reason. In fact, modern technology and science force us not to believe in the power of the Spirit because human reason is so elevated. But the realization of another dimension of the world gives rise to a new understanding of humanity, who was supposed to have genuine encounters with the Spirit. In the mainstream church where I belong, this reality of the unseen but powerful world of the Spirit is not fully recognized. I think we need to grasp the importance of personal encounter with the Spirit one way or another in our church. In this way, we can strike a balance between the bodily and spiritual life.

Another relevance to today's church is that the real spirituality is not distant from compassion with which society can be changed to the culture. In other words, the Spirit-filled person should work for the sake of a community to transform the dominant way of culture in which Christians are called into to live out Jesus' life (Spirit-filled life with compassion). Unfortunately, however, many Christians think of spirituality as the subjective reality of experiences that has nothing to do with compassion to change the social world of our time and culture.

Still another relevance to our churches is the distinction between knowing about God and knowing God. Knowing God through experiences can be a living reality. A Christian life can be enriched by the actual living relationship with God (the Spirit). Knowing about God is not sufficient to living out the life of Spirit-filled compassion. A compassionate work can be done in a personal, intimate relationship with the Spirit.

If I find a small weakness of this book, Borg could have dealt with the elements of culture or Judaism as to how they shaped Jesus' identity. The other small weakness is that Jesus' humanity is not much addressed because of too much focus on the world of the Spirit. If Borg had had a balance between the Spirit and the humanity of Jesus, the picture of Jesus would have been more realistic or appealing to us.

*NOTE: This review was written when I was an M.Div student in late 1990s. I am now a professor of the New Testament and early Christianity. My recent book: Truth, Testimony, and Transformation: A New Reading of the I AM sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Bible after Babel (book review)

John Collins writes clearly about intersections between historical criticism and postmodern approach without demonizing either. He questions biblical writers' ideological dimensions within a historical context, throwing doubt on historiography. In a way, his point is that any interpreter must consider the historical context of texts from which biblical literature was produced; the question is, Whose voice is read or carried out in interpretation? For instance, Collins presents a biblical narrative of exodus story to complicate a usual interpretation of liberation hermeneutics that does not take into account the subsequent conquest narrative of Joshua in which "others" (Canaanites) are negated and conquered under the name of God. He seems to suggest that a right or healthy reading is not so much about finding the main voice of narrative as about whose voice readers attend to.

This book has six chapters all of which raise questions about the validity of historical criticism with a new set of ideological questions both to the text and readers. The six chapters are:
1. Historical Criticism and Its Postmodern Critics
2. The Crisis in Historiography
3. Exodus and Liberation in Postcolonial Perspective
4. The Impact of Feminist and Gender Studies
5. Israelite Religion: The Return of the Goddess
6. Is a Postmodern Biblical Theology Possible?

I highly recommend this book for those interested in historical criticism in a postmodern age. The question is, whose reading is it? This book tries to maintain a balance between the historical-critical approach and the postmodern approach. Ultimately, the task is not solely about the text as an object of historical investigation but about the interpreters who need to ask critical questions to the text, which involves three meaning locations: "behind the text," "within the text," and "in front of the text." That is why any readers or interpreters need to have critical dialogue not just with text but with themselves and others to be included.

For an alternative approach to biblical interpretation, see my own work (Yung Suk Kim), Biblical Interpretation: Theory, Process, and Criteria (Pickwick, 2013). See also my web page.