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Postcolonial Critiques

So, thinking about how it is biblical scholars even, on the one hand, get the opportunity to be in what was ancient Mesopotamia to excavate it, the ways that they go about excavating it, the relationships that they had or did not have with locals in understanding the history of the territory that they’re excavating…there’s a book in progress by Greg Cuéllar, who’s a scholar of Hebrew Bible, where he’s looking at how nineteenth-century biblical scholars were especially impacted by British imperial rhetoric in their approaches to excavating and analyzing, analyzing biblical material especially having to do with the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern period.

Empire is never one discourse or shaping in one way. So, both, that the British archaeologists would have been informed by the rhetorics of British Empire, its imagination of itself as providing civilization to the people it encountered and could easily then map that on to ancient empires and how they read it. A US biblical critic reading the exodus narrative can’t help but be informed in the back of their mind by the way the puritans read themselves as also participating in the exodus narrative or concurrently or perhaps diametrically opposed, can’t help but be informed by the way African Americans have historically read the exodus narrative as promising liberation from oppressive slave owners and oppressive dominating powers in the US. So these historical backgrounds necessarily shape, constrain, open up and limit the questions that we can ask.

  • Jacqueline Hidalgo is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego. She is the author of Revelation in Aztlán (Palgrave 2016) and Latina/o Studies and Biblical Studies in Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation (2020).