A Post-Colonial Liberation Reading of The Epistle to Philemon Essay

A Post-Colonial Liberation Reading of The Epistle to Philemon Essay

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To read the texts of the Bible is to immerse oneself in a history, a history of events, and a history of understanding. As we open the pages of the canonical books, we are given a glimpse into the lives and issues of people many thousands of years ago and of the stories that have shaped the development of the church to the current day. At the same time, and following the call of 2 Timothy 3:16 , Christians take seriously what is written and reflect it into their own lives and realities, leading to interpretations and understandings of the text being applied in their own contexts. This application of biblical texts has, on many occasions, resulted in understandings and practices that, perhaps, undermine what is the true message the texts proclaim, an excellent example of this being the Epistle to Philemon in the New Testament. It is the purpose of this assignment to re-interpret this book of the bible, asking questions borne from a Post-Colonial liberation hermeneutic to show the deficit of traditional readings of this text and explore the role of hermeneutic in interpretation. This will be achieved through explaining the term hermeneutic and specifically the Post-Colonial hermeneutic this essay uses before surveying how the Epistle to Philemon has been interpreted and used historically. After this, we will explore the text through the lens of our hermeneutic, discussing how power and empire are spoken of in the text, the manner in which Paul undermines them and the underlying message expressed to the Church.

“We do not read the Bible the way it is; we read it the way we are.” This simple quote, made by Evelyn Uyemura, guides us in somewhat of a direction toward understanding the concept of hermeneutic. Within it lays th...


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...blical interpretation.



Works Cited

deSilva, David A. An Introduction to the New Testament; Context, Methods & Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.


Dunn, James D. G. The Cambridge Companion to St Paul. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


Hope Felder, Cain. "The Letter to Philemon: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections." The New Interpreter's Bible, 2000: 891-905.


Kim, Jean K. "Philemon." in Global Bible Commentary, 2004: 522-526.


Perkins, Phoebe. "Philemon." in The Women's Bible Commentary, 1002: 362-363.


Pregeant, Russell. Engaging the New Testament: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997.


Turner, Max. "Human reconciliation in the New Testament with special reference to Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians." European Journal of Theology 16, no. 1 (2007): 37-47.

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