What worries me…is the fact that Christian anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism forms the historical and theological ectoplasm out of which the invisible specter of whiteness emerges.
Regardless of our interrogation of it, the terminology of “religion” is operative in the world—not only among the scholars who frame it as a second-order category, but among our interlocutors and kinship networks. Given the baggage that often accompanies it, perhaps it is unsurprising that so many of us are hesitant to apply this label to the people, places, and practices to which we attach meaning.
The Gospel of Mark’s beguiling beginning bids us to consider the dangers of beginnings. John the Baptist’s heralding of Jesus’s coming was not the finality of salvation, but merely a herald to its coming. In this light should we consider our works of bringing God’s salvation and liberation to the world. The work of justice and liberation is long and hard, and many of us will be called to herald it, to lay the groundwork for its eventual manifestation.
First, we must all remember our history and stop the blatant amnesia behind racial and power dynamics in our field…Women and enslaved persons were not a part of the founders’ initial understanding. The same is true for the founding identities of the Society of Biblical Literature.
MOVE, while an illiberal religion characterized by abrasive rhetoric, is nonetheless an example of the religification of law and the legal system. MOVE activists refused to surrender the court to the state, seeing the legal system as a potential tool against the state, rightly beyond state control.
In the midst of a pandemic, can these Advent texts speak to our grief, both collective and personal, in political ways? These scriptures reveal that to grieve is to bear witness to our tears through righteous anger. They interrogate how our lives are structured along inequitable lines in this present moment and counter a simple return to how things were.
Biblical scholars could yield profound insights into the deep and dangerous ways the Bible has been employed in the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny. They might also have to reckon with the role of biblical scholarship in justifying imperialism.
Because whiteness lies at the center of biblical studies, the accepted way of doing biblical scholarship is one that engages white questions, white concerns. The system forces scholars of color, especially those who receive their doctoral trainings in the western educational system, to be familiar with white scholarship.