1st Edition

Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies A Biblical Masala

Edited By David J. Chalcraft, Zhodi Angami Copyright 2023
    402 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides analysis of a variety of biblical narratives and texts which are the vehicle for the expression, articulation and performance of diverse identities in the Indian context and is the first attempt to do so for a global audience of scholars and students.

    From pan-Indian social problems attributed to caste, class and gender inequality, to specific North Eastern tribal settings, Dalit struggles in rural Andhra Pradesh and the experience of Christian autorickshaw drivers in urban Chennai, the book explores the diverse geographical, cultural, social, economic and linguistic settings in which the Bible is encountered. The holistic and multidisciplinary approach to Biblical studies adopted broadens the field beyond textual exegesis. Encounters with the Bible are revealed in diverse chapters impacted by contexts of caste realities, the history of Indian Christianity, colonial and post-colonial frameworks and educational institutions. Full use is made of 'vernacular' texts and traditions including oral and written cultural, folk tale, literary and auto/biographical narratives in Tribal, Dalit and British colonial settings. Diversity of method is championed through including sociological analysis of Indian social realities, qualitative fieldwork techniques and a kaleidoscope of visual and sensory environments with over 30 photographs. The book celebrates and promotes diversity in Indian biblical studies, creativity and sometimes conflicting perspectives.

    Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies will be of interest to students, scholars and researchers working on post-colonial biblical studies and diversity in Christianity, particularly in the Indian context.

    A Biblical Masala: An Orientation to Our Book, David J. Chalcraft; SECTION I: Historical Episodes of Biblical Studies in India from a British Perspective; 1. Strategies Past, Present and Future: The Context and Variety of Biblical Studies in Indian Culture and Society, David J. Chalcraft; 2. English and Indian Readings of Naboth’s Vineyard: The Role of Identity and Context in the Sociological Meaning and Use of Biblical Texts, David J. Chalcraft; 3. Nation and Text: The Biblical Roots of Hindu Nationalism, Hugh S. Pyper; SECTION II: Readings with a Social Conscience; 4. Holiness School’s Response to Economic Injustice: Reading Leviticus 25 in the Multi-Religious and Cultural Context of India, P. Joseph Titus; 5. A Dialogue between Indian and Biblical Social Settings: Reading the Two Parables of Rich Men (Luke 12.16-21 and 16.19-31) Contextually, V.J. John; SECTION III: Dalit/Madiga Hermeneutics; 6. The Context of Dalit Christians in Rural Andhra Pradesh: Christian Faith, Caste and Culture, Jeeva Kumar Ravela; 7. Encountering the Bible: Listening to the Voices of Madiga Christians, Jeeva Kumar Ravela and David J. Chalcraft; 8. Why Are Times Not Kept by the Almighty?’ – Job, Violence and God: A Dalit Contextual Reading of Job 24, Jeeva Kumar Ravela; SECTION IV: Tribal Hermeneutics; 9. An Introduction to Tribal Interpretation of the Bible, Zhodi Angami; 10. Reading Amos 6.1-7 in the Light of Mizo Values and Ethos, K. Lallawmzuala; 11. Seeing Jesus through Tribal Eyes, Zhodi Angami; 12. A Tribal God for a Tribal People: Reading the Creation Narratives of Genesis and the Prologue of John’s Gospel from an Angami Perspective, Zhodi Angami; SECTION V: An Empirical Turn? The (Visual) Ethnography of Biblical Encounter; 13. The Use of the Bible in the Institutional Body Language of Christian Schools in India: Mediating Western; Christian; or Western-Christian Culture in Contemporary India?, Sally Elton-Chalcraft; 14. ‘Bad Fellows’ Doing a ‘Cursed Job’: Reading the Bible with ‘Ordinary’ Autowallahs in Chennai, Arren Bennet Lawrence.


    Zhodi Angami is Professor of New Testament and Dean of Postgraduate Studies at Eastern Theological College, Jorhat, India. He earned a PhD in New Testament from the University of Divinity, Australia. His special areas of interest are Jesus, the Gospels, the history and formation of the Bible and tribal interpretation of the Bible. His publications include Tribals, Empire and God: A Tribal Reading of the Birth of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (2017) and The Making of the Bible (2017).

    David J. Chalcraft is Professor of Sociology at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, and formerly Chair of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield (2011-2014). He has long been associated with the analysis of classical sociology and with the use of sociology in biblical studies, editing such volumes as Social Scientific Old Testament Criticism (1995), Sectarianism in Early Judaism: Sociological Advances (2007) and Theories, Methods and Imagination (with Frauke Uhlenbruch and Rebecca S Watson) (2014).

    'A fascinating concoction of articles looking at interpretations of the Bible in India, past and present, Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies is a timely look at a rich, cultural stream of biblical interpretation. A post-colonial lens is used to examine different contextual readings with national, ethnic and social identities all with roles to play. Older colonial, Protestant, Catholic, Dalit and Tribal exegetical approaches are also compared in conjunction with new anthropological, ethnographic and visual modes of enquiry. Everyday life is never far away, with the recognition of the part played by symbols and the senses in interpreting the Bible and the world around us. What other book would feature the biblical approaches of rickshaw drivers?! This is a rich and diverse reading experience, not to be missed!' - Katharine J. Dell, Professor of Old Testament Literature and Theology, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge