Select a biblical passage and correlate it with a current social justice issue relevant to your community (in the wide sense).
1) Perform a close exegetical reading of the text on your own, before reading commentaries. Situate
it in the surrounding context. (I.e., if you are analyzing the Beatitudes, make note of who Jesus is
talking to, where they are, what he’s just done and/or what he does/says next. This involves reading
what comes before and after your immediate passage.) What is the text saying? What words, images,
dialogues, encounters, symbols, metaphors, events, or characters strike you, and why? What do you
think the author is ‘trying to say,’ and why do you think that?
2) Locate the work of at least one biblical scholar (in conjunction with me). Engage in a close
reading of this author’s exegesis. First, what insights do you gain from the author? What historical
context or analysis of words in their original language does s/he add that are of value? What does
s/he take the ‘meaning’ of this text to be, and why? Are there symbols, narratives, or messages
present which the author unpacks that you had not considered, or had not delved into as deeply?
Second, how does what this author present change or further your understanding of the text’s
‘meaning’? What opens up to you, poetically or on the surface?
3) Lay out your social justice issue. What is its background (i.e., where did this issue come from,
historically?) and where does it stand now? Cite specific facts and statistics. Explain the threat to or
movement for justice. In what way is justice at stake in what you present? Who currently is reaping
the benefits and at whose expense? Is this in keeping with the larger historical pattern, and in what
4) Here is your creative work. Read your biblical text into the issue of social justice and explain how
bringing scripture into the picture provides a new interpretation; a fresh way of viewing things. What
changes? Is there a narrative that is being continued and lived into in the present? Is one
figure/group embodying a biblical symbol that changes your understanding of it? (What theological
understanding can be added to what you described in section 3?) Similarly, read your social justice
issue back into your biblical text. In what way does reading the text with this in mind re-imagine the
‘meaning’ of the text, as glimpsed from this particular vantage point? Are there characters, objects,
themes, conversations, actions, or others that take on a new significance, and if so, how? (What
social justice understanding can be added to what you described in section 2?) How does engaging
the text from this concrete historical point of in/justice yield a new interpretation? Name your connection to
the issue in section 3 and what your role is in relation to it. How does this exegesis deepen your
understanding of the way you are connected to or embedded in it? How does it inform your
understanding of yourself, your rights, your privileges, or your responsibilities?
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