“Jesus as Flesh: Living and Giving Life in the Shadow of Death”
- Venue: Room 018, The Clock Tower,22 Princes Street,The University of Auckland.
- Date & Time: Wednesday 3rd June, 6.00 p.m.
Dr. Tat-siong Benny Liew is currently a Professor of New Testament in the Pacific School of Religion/Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, USA. Dr. Liew kindly accepted our invitation to be the guest lecturer for our biblical courses at the University of Auckland for semester one, 2009, while on sabbatical in New Zealand.
He is most interested and invested in transdisciplinary study of the New Testament. Alongside New Testament studies, his scholarly interests include literary theory, postcolonial studies, gender/sexuality studies, and ethnic studies (particularly Asian American history and literature). Dr. Liew is the author of What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics? Reading the New Testament (2008), and Politics of Parousia: Reading Mark Inter(con)textually (1999). He also edited They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism with Randall Bailey and Fernando Segovia (2009), and the last issue of the journal, Semeia, with Gale Yee on “The Bible in Asian America” (2002). He also serves on several international editorial boards, and is currently the book review editor of the journal, Biblical Interpretation, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion.
This lecture reads the Johannine Jesus as one who provides insight into ideologies of death threats. Not only does the Johannine Jesus live his life fully aware of the “hour” of his impending death, Jewish followers of Jesus within the Fourth Gospel are also cognizant of another form of death that is no less threatening. “To be put out of the synagogue,” like and because of the context of living under Roman colonization, is a form of social death. Writing about the slave trade to the so-called “New World,” Hortense Spillers suggests that the word “flesh” (rather than the word “body”) is a particularly apt description of a colonized/racialized person who occupies a captive subject-position that is readily killable. Spillers’ understanding of “flesh” is thus akin to what Giorgio Agamben calls homo sacer, or what Roman law sees as a readily disposable “bare life.” “Flesh,” in other words, might well be an appropriate way to represent the state of a colonized/racialized Jew within the Roman Empire like the Johannine Jesus, who is, after all, the Word became “flesh.” It will explore therefore if and how John’ Jesus sheds light on how a colonized/racialized person might live life under the ubiquitous threat of both social and actual death, or how one might negotiate between Agamben’s “bare life” and John’s “abundant life.” John’s insights on this subject may be helpful to those who live in the shadow of empire today, no matter where one is located in the Pacific.
For further information and RSVP, please contact Anna Ma
Phone: (09) 373 7599 ext. 86676