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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epoch-Making Work
If you are open-minded, if you think the traditional Church has emphasised the Death and Resurrection of Jesus to the almost total exclusion of his life and ministry, if you think the scholars often make a mountain out of a mole-hill and if you want to take the humanity of Jesus seriously, this book is for you. After studying Parker in some depth and having been...
Published 14 months ago by Alan Powers

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3.0 out of 5 stars Ploughs a Narrow Furrow
Here's the basic idea of this book.

The "Hebrews" were actually the marginalised of the ancient world - the author claims the word literally means marginalised, although looking on google, Wikipedia claims the origin is uncertain and suggests it literally means "to traverse or pass over" while the online etymology dictionary suggests in means "one from the...
Published 12 months ago by J. Mann


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epoch-Making Work, 18 July 2013
This review is from: The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories (Paperback)
If you are open-minded, if you think the traditional Church has emphasised the Death and Resurrection of Jesus to the almost total exclusion of his life and ministry, if you think the scholars often make a mountain out of a mole-hill and if you want to take the humanity of Jesus seriously, this book is for you. After studying Parker in some depth and having been concerned about the historical Jesus all my life, I am convinced that he is breaking new ground. For a start he takes the Bible seriously. In the second place he thinks that Jesus took his nation seriously. And in the third place he thinks that the writers of the Moses stories, those who put the book of Isaiah together and the underground writers of Ganesis chapters 1&2, 22, 34 (That's Dinah!) etc, Job, Jonah had got the key to true life. "Why?", asks Parker, " did Jesus surround himself with 'outsiders' - and not just the poor?" This, surely, is the one indisputable fact about Jesus. And why was this Jew, who opposed the leaders of his beloved Israel, prepared to sacrifice his life? The answer is here in this book. It's exhilirating. It's very, very readable. And, above all, it's epoch-making. Do, do read it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars God of the Subalterns, 12 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories (Paperback)
Andrew Parker is on to something important when he claims that the point of the Bible is to let us know that the God of the Bible is the God of the Subalterns and it's only by understanding God as a projection of the hopes and cries of the poor and oppressed that we can really get our heads around all the other stuff: the epics, the signs and wonders, the carnage, and the parables. With a practical and easy-writing manner Parker makes this sort of theology both accessible and provoking.

If Parker was the only person saying this one might be suspicious but he isn't. Brueggeman often tells us that the Bible has two opposing narratives that thread their way through every book: The narrative of Empire and the narrative of Liberation.

Readers of Moltmann, Bloch, Guttierez, Boff, would find this book a great addition to their collection but more than that: a book they can lend to others knowing that it cuts through the weightiness of exegesis without losing the sense or gravity of the subject.

A great read. Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus
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5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply subversive book - in the best way, 24 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories (Paperback)
Melanie Carroll | Together Magazine
An incredibly deep and rich book which really is a must for anyone wanting to really get to the meaning of politics and to the core concepts of some of the stories in the Bible. Perhaps not for the faint-hearted, it digs deeply at some ideas and stories in the Bible, looking at them from not just a political position but from a point of biblical investigation. The book digs past the surface to look at the original meaning of texts which have been lost over time. In doing this it challenges readers preconceived ideas. It's an intense but easily readable book that focuses us on what the Bible is in many ways really about and what it might be calling us to if we really look into it. It is many ways a deeply subversive book - in the best way; a political book in the truest sense and an excellent read all round.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ploughs a Narrow Furrow, 14 Sep 2013
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J. Mann - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories (Paperback)
Here's the basic idea of this book.

The "Hebrews" were actually the marginalised of the ancient world - the author claims the word literally means marginalised, although looking on google, Wikipedia claims the origin is uncertain and suggests it literally means "to traverse or pass over" while the online etymology dictionary suggests in means "one from the other side" referring to the River Euphrates or perhaps simply "immigrant".

In any event, for the author Andrew Parker these marginalised Hebrews formed a view of the world different in perspective to the hierarchical empires and societies that surrounded them. For their God, the marginalised were his people - the slaves who came out of Egypt - and they needed to be a society who treated everyone fairly - love your neighbour as yourself. They developed a religion of caring for the poor, the widow, the disabled, the orphan - those despised by other nations would be valued in Israel. Further, this radical love for all would be a "light" to the other nations, which would shame them into changing their ways and turning their backs on oppression and injustice.

Unfortunately this proto-socialist society itself became yet another hierarchical, oppressive society, with the rich turning their backs on the poor. A number of prophets spoke out against this, but gradually also some tried to change the religion itself to support this new oppressive society, and began to portray God as a dictator who demanded blind obedience.

Consequently the Old Testament is a frustrating mix of the original "marginalised" religion, overlaid with the later oppressive, hierarchical religion, with stories changed or modified by editors to hide their true meaning.

The purpose of Jesus was to restore Israel to their original mission, to once again side with the poor and oppressed, the outcasts, those outside the law - and to shame first Israel into repentance and returning to their original purpose, who in turn would then shame the world into turning to a more equitable and just society.

So hopefully that gives some background to what Andrew Parker is aiming to do. The book itself is a series of chapters each looking at a different story in the Bible, and typically trying to separate the original "wheat" of the marginalised religion from the "chaff" of the later hierarchical editors.

Unfortunately this "separation" process is once again another exercise in discovering the "real truth" of the Bible. For many Christians I expect they will have read numerous interpretations of the Bible, each claiming to find the "truth" hidden behind layers of error.

In a way, having all these different interpretations can make the Bible a rich, layered, inter-textual book, turning its pages is like turning a kaleidoscope, each time seeing a different pattern to the message within.

Nevertheless as with any interpretation, the reader can't help finding themselves wincing a bit at some of the arguments presented. Too often Parker rejects a particular reading as being "dumb" or "boring" or "obvious" - well, really is that a good argument for believing this was not what the author intended?

Even in the presentation of his argument, I found Parker a bit at sea. I would have liked first to have had a much better justification for this interpretation of the Bible, rather than a very short initial assertion and then jumping in to argue the opening chapters of Genesis have been horribly messed up by some late editor.

For me, it would have helped to perhaps have the first third of the book deal with why such a reading is valid - often Parker refers to second Isaiah as an important expounder of this message of the God of the marginalised, but we don't specifically go through Isaiah to hear all the evidence. Instead he too often wants to go to the more difficult passages and stories and explain why they don't mean what they appear to. This seems to start things off on a very difficult footing - although to some extent I'm sure his motives are good to look at the passages that tell most powerfully against what he is arguing, but to my mind he hasn't made a good enough case for it in the first place, to so soon be looking at the case against.

I would have thought something of the following would be a better outline of the book.

The Hebrews began with the story of the Exodus and their escape from slavery as their founding story - not the story of the creation in Genesis which came much later. The Exodus was the "creation" of the Hebrew people, and the subsequent law which embodied the principles of caring for the marginalised.

At this point we can have some exposition of how the Torah supports the poor and tries to prevent extremes of rich and poor persisting in Hebrew society.

We can then look at stories of those from the margins - perhaps Moses, Ruth, Samuel, David and so on - and also hear from the prophets and their preaching against injustice and oppression of the poor.

Something like this would at least provide a good grounding for what the author wants to say. At this point he can then spend some time looking at the arguments against - the creation stories, Abraham and Isaac, Job, Ezra, Jonah and so on.

I would really just repeat this argument with his study of the New Testament, again we have a series of discussions about stories from the gospels about Jesus, with attempts at interpreting Jesus as essentially having a political message of repentance for Israel for their treatment of those on the margins - to my mind he should make the case for in as strong terms as possible, then deal with some of the arguments against. The examples given in the book really start with the assumption that this was the mission of Jesus, then attempt to give readings of different stories in this light.

Strangely there is nothing about the early church holding things in common, or about Paul and what we are to make of his teachings - perhaps about the titles he gives Jesus being taken from those given to Caesar. These is an argument to be made here, and it seems strange that the whole book is silent on the Christian church after Jesus.

Two final points.

Parker is clearly much more interested in the political meaning of the Bible. He appears to have little or no time for a religious reading, of worship of God, experience of the Holy Spirit, prayer, the eucharist, miracles and so on. So why bother with the Bible at all? If the purpose is to promote support for the marginalised in society, how does coming up with a particular reading of the Bible really help that cause? After all, due to all these pro-oppression editors messing with the text it isn't particularly easy to make the case. It seems as sensible as someone wanting to promote feminism to do so not from arguing the case from present circumstances, but through a "feminist" reading of the Bible, while trying to get past all those patriarchal editors who messed the original message up.

Second, the political content of "love your neighbour as yourself" it a pretty limited message. What are we supposed to make of it? It seems to beg a lot of questions, and doesn't seem exactly self-evident as to how we are to apply it within contemporary society. Parker is clearly on the left, but says that this message of siding with the marginalised has challenged some of his left-wing beliefs - his example being why the owner of the vineyard only pays the workers the equivalent of the minimum wage.

It would seem at least useful to expand out what the full consequences of this message really are. What is the Bible really suggesting? How is it really going to all work? Is this "shaming" of people into doing good really something healthy? Is "shame" and "guilt" part of the problem?

If God really does have a message that can bring peace and justice to the earth, it would be good to hear a lot more about how it all works and how we should be putting it into practise, instead of the very terse and limited account of it given here.

In summary, this is a provocative way of reading the Bible. In parts Parker may help us re-engage with a story we thought we knew, and think about it again, but in other areas we may find his reading too contrived and awkward. However to really make the case he wants to there are a lot more issues he needs to engage with. Parker does write with an open and honest style - he isn't academic by any means - and his writing conveys his passion and engagement with the subject, I hope he continues to plough this furrow but widen his scope to produce a better harvest next time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Bible as Politics, 8 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories (Paperback)
Is it too much to say that for most people in our "Western" civilization the Bible is more honoured
as a symbol of religious devotion than as a book that is actually read? And when it is actually read, so much of it leaves the reader with a sense of bewilderment rather than enlightenment. Why, one might ask, do the Scriptures have to be, so often, obscure?

How Andrew Parker, as a lifelong student and lover of the Bible, deals with this problem is to select nine episodes in the "Old Testament" and seven in the Gospels and show the reader how each and all contribute to an ideological , rather than a theological understanding of the Bible - and that the Scriptures are throughout a battleground for two very different, in fact opposed political commitments, both expressed as devotion to the same god.

To read this book is, of course, to encounter a particular human being - the author. Parker writes with the confidence of a discoverer, convincingly demonstrating how the biblical "stories" he examines reveal the god of the Hebrews to be the 'god of the marginals', those whom civilization sidelines or blacklists or rubbishes.The unity of Scripture is to be found in this, Parker insists, implicitly calling into question the whole apparatus of civilizational religion which enthrones the interfering, authoritarian God of Genesis 1 and ignores the god of Genesis 2 and Exodus 3-4 who invites co-operation and a covenant with him rather than blind obedience.
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The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories
The Bible as Politics: The Rape of Dinah and other stories by Andrew Parker (Paperback - 28 Jun 2013)
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