Posts Tagged 'gospel of john'

The Gospel of John as Colonial Text

Musa W. Dube writes that the Jesus of the Gospel of John must be understood in the context of Roman colonialism and modern day imperialism:

Western academic biblical readings, therefore, tend to read the Johannine texts, and other books of the Bible, as if they only refer to ancient times and having nothing to do with our current world.  The reluctance to cross the borderline of the ancient setting and to assess how the biblical texts, together with such texts as Heart of Darkness and the Aeneid, inform contemporary structures and power of the world…is one way in which biblical studies are not only colonized, but become a colonizing body of knowledge.  Biblical studies vigilantly guards the boundaries, insisting on reading biblical texts without assessing or relating them to modern and contemporary world politics.  For the most part biblical texts are read in isolation from other secular works of literature.  Whether this is intended or not, this approach maintains and perpetuates the imperialistic power of the West over non-Western and non-Christian places, peoples and cultures.

…I therefore hold that the Johannine approach to exalting Jesus to divine status, above all Jewish figures and above all other cultural figures of the world, is a colonizing ideology that is not so different from the ideology of the Aeneid and Heart of Darkness.  More importantly, John’s colonizing ideology calls upon academic readers to go beyond just expounding and explaining the construction of John’s text.  Rather, readers are called upon to decolonize its ideology and to work on readings of liberating interdependence between Christians and Jews, One-Third World and Two-Thirds World, Western and Non-Western, Christian and Non-Christian cultures, women and men, etc. (Dube, 131-132)


Dube, Musa W.  “Savior of the World but not of This World: A Post-Colonial Reading of Spatial Construction in John.”  In The Postcolonial Bible edited by R.S. Sugirtharajah, 118-135.  Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.


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