Contextual Biblical Interpretation

This sounds familiar:

“I am nevertheless compelled, however, to take up the task, largely due to my own identity as a fif-generation Christian who was born and brought up in Southeast Asia, in a place the British once called Borneo (North Borneo to be precise) but is n ow known as Sabah, one the the states of Malaysia.

Perhaps a brief personal note might help in understanding the way by which I have come to perceive and persevere in the subject matter. I was educated in Malaysia, Singapore, Cana, the United States, and Great Britian, and I have biblical studies and interpretation in Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China both at the graduate level and to the laity for the last twenty years. I constantly struggle to strke a chord of harmonic mind in reading and teaching the bible, especially when attempting to apply with sensibility and sensitivity to the East the knowledge, particularly in biblical studies, that I acquired from West. I am forced to make instant executive decisions regarding the interpretation of certain passages that a group of Bible readers find difficult to comprehend, not because they live in a proverbial birdcage, but because their experience of reality is specific and contextual. Sometimes I find my context-insensitive readings, which may be regarded as authoritative interpretations, filled not only with fear, but with primal fear; I am the legitimate voice of the biblical authors, at times representing even God, the One with whom the West is familiar, yet who remains alien to those in the Esat. Colonizng ‘them,’ whoever they are, with knowledge proven by an advanced degree earned inthe West, I have enjoyed much the fruit of power. That ‘knowledge is power’ has long been recognized, acknowledged by the philosophyer Francis Bacon and elaborated more recently by Michel Foucault with sophistication. The wil to power and power to dominate has been instilled in my soul as the basis for practicing biblical interpretation in Southeast Asia."

Philip P. Chia謝品然, “Differences and Difficulties: Biblical Interpretation in the Southeast Asian Context," in Mary F. Foskett, Jeffrey K. Kuan, ed., Ways of Being, Ways of Reading: Asian American Biblical Interpretation, (Christian Board of Publicati, 2006), 46.


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