Social, Political, and Ideological Criticism

Christopher Rowland

in The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199237777
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Social, Political, and Ideological Criticism

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This article explores ways in which ideological criticism may contribute to biblical studies. The discussion is rooted in the central role that the critique of ideology has within the Marxist tradition and the ways in which that rich tradition of discussion can serve biblical exegesis and theology. It gives two specific examples of the way in which there has been a challenge to dominant ideologies. First of all, the emergence of liberationist hermeneutics (linked as it is with both feminist and ‘Black’ theologies) has posed questions to a dominant, ‘First World’ biblical hermeneutics and its idealist presuppositions, in which the history of ideas has taken precedence over their relationship to their social formation. Second, throughout the history of Christianity there have been alternative patterns of biblical interpretation, with different priorities and with the interests of readers, from below other than the élites of the day. The article concludes with some consideration of the historical dimension of ideological criticism in which different doctrinal and practical priorities have emerged in readings of the Bible apart from the dominant ideological contexts.

Keywords: Bible; biblical criticism; biblical studies; Marxism; exegesis; liberationist hermeneutics; ideology; theology

Article.  8136 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Christianity

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