Reading In-Between

How Minoritized Cultural Communities Interpret the Bible in Canada

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Editor(s): 
Néstor Medina, Alison Hari-Singh, HyeRan Kim-Cragg
  • Eugene, OR: 
    Pickwick Publications
    , February
     2019.
     158 pages.
     $21.00.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9781532641824.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Review

Edited by Néstor Medina, Alison Hari-Singh and HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Reading In-Between is a collection of nine papers that give a voice of the minoritized Canadian Christians reading the Bible from their cultural, historical, political, and economic hermeneutical contexts. The authors represent biblical “voiceless” Canadian minoritized “ethno-cultural” communities (114, 80), who are originally from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and indigenous nations, or have these kinds of family heritage. They read the Bible “to be in-between two worlds” (29) of the traditional dominant white anglophone and francophone cultures and the growing subordinate cultures with “color” seeking the blessings from God and crying out their community’s voices for justice.

This book fills the gap for interpreters and general readers of scripture who are traditional Canadian “others” beyond the hegemonic imperial or colonial cultural voices and “others” who read the “other” side of biblical stories and seek for God’s blessings. This kind of “ground-breaking” (1, 121) narrative biblical hermeneutics manifests the intercultural necessity of Canadian Christians who possess a minoritized identity from their situated marginal locations of ethno-culture and  realities in politics, economy, and social paths.

This book is the first kind of those embodied Canadian peoples with complex matrix of minoritized ethno-cultural identities who cry out their own needs to interpret the same scripture differentiating from the traditional lens of “the dominant Euro-North American biblical hermeneutics” (4). The papers are organized into three categories: (1) the East Asian Canadian Christians reading the Bible crossculturally (35), using diasporic experiences (36), and “inter-positioning” tactics (52); (2) the methodological renewal reading Bible by Latinas/os (69), bhakti Indian (95), and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, etc.) Christians (101); and (3) the responsive summary reading of the Bible by all “visible” but traditionally “voiceless” minoritized Canadian Christians (1,112, 122).

The reading includes various hermeneutical actions such as storytelling, translation, interpretation in ethnic and cultural lenses, and finding oneself in a theological discursive position in the biblical texts. For example, from the story of Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11:29–40), Kim-Cragg asks “can Jephthah’s daughter and Korean [Canadian] women speak?” (59). In this “other” reading perspective, the subaltern “lived hermeneutics” (68) is not just for Korean women, Chinese or Indian Canadians, Afro-Caribbeans, or First Peoples, but also for the Latina/o Canadian Christians. As Medina points out, those “who know and can identify with one’s experience of discrimination, marginalization, poverty, racism, and immigration” engage the text (73). The style in which they interpret the Bible also contains various expressions of oral storytelling, song singing, liturgical rituals, spiritual practices, and Christian belief formed alongside the miserable history and current reality with which they found similarieis in the biblical narrative. In other words, these Canadian “minoritized biblical scholars” and “ethnic minority theologians” uniquely share “their own ethno-cultural communities” experiences, worldviews, and cultural assumptions to read the Bible relevantly, meaningfully, and faithfully (122–23).    

The “narrative hermeneutics” exemplified in Reading In-Between by authors Alan Ka Lun Lai, Barbara M. Leung Lai, Alison Hari-Singh, Ray Aldred and Catherine Aldred-Shull, Gosnell L. Yorke, and others also demonstrates the intercultural power of minoritized Canadian Christian communities, which connect the biblical stories to daily life and interpret the Word of God with their own real-life experiences individually and collectively. However, this book’s value is not only about the case studies or biblical texts involved, but also a “subversive” method of reading the Bible so that they move “beyond the ‘norm’ of mainstream reading” and move toward interculturally working out our own in-between readings with fear and trembling (133, 66). As Greer Anne Wenh-In Ng comments, “as a minoritized reader,” every reader of this book should be “curious as to how the Bible might ‘read me’ even as I follow new ways of how to read it” (124); or as a relatively traditional reader, you have to be prepared to challenge yourself by going out beyond your own comfort zone.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Sheng Ping Guo is visiting researcher at Cambridge Center for Christianity Worldwide, United Kingdom. 

Date of Review: 
June 24, 2021
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Néstor Medina is assistant professor of religious ethics and culture at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto.

Alison Hari-Singh is administrator of the Doctor of Ministry Program at the Toronto School of Theology.

HyeRan Kim-Cragg is associate professor of preaching at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto.

Comments

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.