Sugi on Narrative Crticism

Recent trends on both the progressive and conservative side of Christian theology have pointed toward a tendency to time and again claim that Scripture is a grand story, and that should only be identified as such.  This claim tends be invoked uncritically with a Western gaze, and while I do not deny that much of the Christian canon has narrative elements in it, there are also laws, regulations, as well as real, historical persons who do not think and act like us.  The other day I came across a quote from R. S. Sugitharajah, a scholar of biblical studies who has retired in the U.K. in hisPostcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology. From the essay, “Marketing the Testaments: Canongate and Their Pocket-sized Bibles”

“Is a literary approach really an important hermeneutical device or has it become a counterpart of the heritage industry,  an escapist activity which replaces an historical and praxilogical engagement with nostalgia? It may serve as a stimulus not for critical engagement but for luring readers into dreaming for a long lost imaginary idyllic past.”

5 thoughts on “Sugi on Narrative Crticism

  1. Pingback: No, the Bible Should Not be taught in Public Schools | Political Jesus

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  3. Seth Callahan

    How does framing the original testament as a narrative lure readers towards nostalgia? Take the conquest texts for example. Saying that God did not command the Ban reveals how problematic such a divine extermination would be. This critical reading casts a human hand in the origin of the Scriptures. I don’t see this view as idyllic, but simple reasonable. Please help my thinking on this.

    Reply
    1. h00die_R Post author

      The conquest narratives you mention Seth are not what would be seen as part of the Narrative theology hermeneutic. I have seen narrative theologians use them in light of Joshua, and the book of Hebrews, how Jesus/Joshua are our saviors. America does have a conquest narrative that contains a whitewashed history and it has used the pejorative “Canaanites” for Native Americans. It is in this sense, that narrative becomes nostalgia, because it whitewashes the history of the oppressed.

      Reply
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