Tuesday, July 08, 2008
  SBL International: The Bible in the Pacific
One really interesting session I attended yesterday was "The Bible in the Pacific", appropriate in a city which is home to more Polynesians than the other South Pacific Islands put together (I believe, if this is urban myth someone correct me!). I'll mention the two papers in the reverse of the order they were presented, since they represented two generations of Pacific Biblical scholarship.

Sione Havea is a well-established Tongan biblical scholar, now at Charles Sturt University. His paper "Displacing Bible, Drifting Homes, Restless Tellings" was a lively repeat of the usual post-colonial warnings about the ways in which the (Western) missionary enterprise of the 19th and 20th centuries left the Bible as a problematic book. It was engagingly delivered, and even the jibes at "Western Men" did not seem to hurt the Western males in the audience ;-)

The words were enlivened by "
works by artists from Oceania who expose the partnership of the Christian mission with Western colonization"). I somehow missed the argument of the second part, where he spoke about "how and why the Western bible [failed to] function as 'home' for the natives (for whom 'stories give home'). The third part, spoke of "the power of telling" this was a passionate plea, but sadly the example based on the "witch of Endor" (which was promised in the abstract) did not feature in the paper as presented.

Nasili Vaka'uta, a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland (declaration of interest: I have co-supervised his thesis for the last few years) belongs to the next generation of Pacific scholarship. Nasili spoke on "Myth of (Im)Purity and Peoples of the (Is)Lands: A Tongan Reading of Ezra 9-10" To me Nasili's great achievement is to have prodcued a reading of his text which uses Tomgan vocabulary and culture as the categories that shape the reading. His "Tongan reading" is not merely a Western reading in Tongan clothes therefore, but more genuinely Tongan. I remember encouraging my Congolese students in the 80s to begin, trying to achieve this task, of discovering the thought patterns and processes that would lead to African readings that were African in their intellectual framework as well as their appearance! Back then we made little progress, but I think Nasili's paper represents a strong beginning to such a process for Tongan Tu'a readers. Here is his abstract:

Ezra 9-10 is narrated with a gaze. It gazes at the “peoples of the lands” not merely to identify, but also to belittle and discriminate against. In this paper, I offer a Tongan reading of Ezra 9-10 with attention to objects of deriding gazes, and the myth/ideology behind the gaze vis-à-vis the colonial construction of the Oceanic island 'natives.' This reading is situated in the social location of Tongan commoners (tu'a), and theorized with the Tongan notion of fonua (land, place, sea, and people). Methodologically, it weaves together insights from various methods and categories from Tongan culture. This interpretive framework provides the lenses for enga[g/z]ing (gaze back at) the text.

Labels: , ,

SEARCH Tim's sites
Posts listed by topic
My academic CV

Write to Tim

January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 /

biblical studies blogs:

other theology/church blogs:


Powered by Blogger

Technorati Profile

Yellow Pages for Auckland, New Zealand