Book Examines "Reading the Bible from the Margins"
Posted March 25, 2002
HOLLAND -- Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre of the Hope
College religion faculty has just published "Reading the
Bible from the Margins," with Orbis Books.
The book maintains that anyone who reads the Bible
does so from a particular social location. "We are all born
into an on-going society that shapes us," said De La Torre,
who is an assistant professor of religion. "When we turn
our attention to the biblical text as the source of our
theological perspectives, we participate in a dialogue
between the written word and the meanings our community
taught us to give to these words."
"Many of us have been taught to read the Bible
through the eyes of white, middle-class males," he said.
"Yet, can the text liberate those who are oppressed because
of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or
class? To do so, it must be read with the eyes of the
"Reading the Bible from the Margins" explores how
the Bible can be used to liberate those who suffer race,
class and gender oppression within the United States.
Specifically, the perspectives of African Americans,
Latina/os, Asian Americans, gays, and the poor are examined.
The book is based on a freshman class De La Torre
presently teaches at Hope by the same title. The primary
aim of the book is to expose the reader to a new way of
"seeing" the biblical text. The book analyzes different
biblical narratives from the perspective of the "underside"
of normative Christian interpretations to show how the
powerless within U.S. society find spiritual empowerment.
Besides biblical references, communal and personal
anecdotes are used throughout the text to make the material
more accessible to the reader. The book does not question
the authority of the Scriptures. Rather, by claiming its
authority, the book challenges how the dominant religious
culture forged its interpretations, interpretations which at
times mask power structures.
In a recent review of the book, Cain Hope Felder,
professor of New Testament at Howard University, wrote,
"Miguel De La Torre offers a remarkably honest and even
self-indicting primer in biblical interpretation. This
innovative resource is filled with considerable
multicultural capital that can help many better understand
the sad persistence of many 'great divides' in a nation that
is so ready to proclaim to the world, 'United We Stand!'
This is not another 'angry minority voice,' but one that
provides balm for those who have become accustomed to
reading the Bible in a manner that would both disguise and
justify their own socio-economic, racial, or gender
preferences. De La Torre intentionally extracts elements of
his own pilgrimage in America to form a prism through which
others of us who have suffered in the unique American
hierarchy of social and economic pain might view others with
a compassion that would foster helping solidarity."
"Reading the Bible from the Margins" is the second
book Dr. De La Torre has published this academic year. The
first was "Introducing Latino/a Theologies," which was
released this past October, also by Orbis Press.
De La Torre just completed two other books which
are scheduled for release within the next year: "The Quest
for the Cuban Christ" with University Press of Florida; and
"La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics are the streets
of Miami" with University of California Press.
Additionally, he is presently working on two other books:
"Introduction to Santerķa: A New U.S. Religion" with Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co.; and "Handbook on U.S. Theologies of
Liberation" with Chalice Press.