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The Bible and the Third World
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Book description

This innovative study moves briskly but comprehensively through three phases of the Third World's encounter with the Bible - precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial. It recounts the remarkable story of how an inaccessible and marginal book in the ancient churches of India, China and North Africa became an important tool in the hands of both coloniser and colonised; how it has been reclaimed in the postcolonial world; and how it is now being reread by various indigenes, Native Americans, dalits and women. Drawing on substantial exegetical examples, Sugirtharajah examines reading practices ranging from the vernacular to liberation and the newly-emerging postcolonial criticism. His study emphasises the often overlooked biblical reflections of people such as Equiano and Ramabai as well as better-known contemporaries like Gutiérrez and Tamez. Partly historical and partly hermeneutical, the volume will serve as an invaluable introduction to the Bible in the Third World for students and interested general readers.


‘The book under review is an exciting development, comprehensive historically, globally and in contemporary challenge. It brings together fascinating vignettes about how the Bible has been used in the Third World, and a critique of contemporary hermeneutics. It admirably introduces the Western reader to much that is new and challenging. Its breadth of examples will mean that there is much arresting material for a reader anywhere, whatever ‘world’ they are reading from … The book is recommended to those committed to serious study of the Bible, world church history, and contemporary social and cultural theology. It will also intrigue the general reader with the world it opens up. I am glad it has been published immediately in paperback, so that it can reach such readers.’

Source: Theology

'This book should be read by anyone busy with interpreting the Bible in a Third World situation, as well as anyone interested in understanding the unique contribution that can be made to theological discussion by Third World theologians. … he introduces this theological world in a worthy manner.'

Source: Verbum et Ecclesia Jrg

‘This is clearly an important and provocative work of enormous relevance to the ecclesiastical historian and missiologist as well as to the biblical scholar … a book to be welcomed and appreciated.’

Source: Biblical Interpretation

‘As indicated in the title, this interesting study moves through three phases of the Third World’s encounter with the Bible B precolonial, colonial and postcolonial … This is a timely book on the diversified and diversifying reading and status of the Bible in the third world. Every South African biblical researcher should ascertain how the Bible is being read by fellow-Africans … [the author's] book is a good place to start one’s own journey into this fascinating subject. the book is well written and research was done diligently.’

Source: Old Testament Essays

‘Sugirtharajah’s book is a well-researched piece of work. It brings together, and to the fore, some of the voices that have been heard in isolation in different parts of the third world. It also highlights those readings that were formerly not seen as being sophisticated enough to be included in mainstream Biblical Studies … to this extent his work is unique and very important. The author must also be given credit for the depth in which he has gone into the history of the church in some of the third world countries.’

Source: Neotestamentica

‘This is a timely book on the diversified and diversifying reading and status of the Bible in the Third World … the book is well written and research was done diligently.’

Source: Old Testament Essays

'In this latest publication, R. S. Sugirtharajah, award winning author and editor, calls readers once again to a different set of voices, those from the margins. In this intriguing exploration of the role and use of the Bible in the Third World, Sugirtharajah moves deftly through the story of this history from precolonial to colonial to postcolonial times … In the world of academia so often filled with theoretical jargon, Sugirtharajah offers us a voice that must be heard. In a clear and engaging work bringing the voices of real people and real situations, he demonstrates that the relevance of postcolonial readings must be more than intellectual curiosity …'.

Source: Perspectives in Religious Studies

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