A leading womanist biblical scholar reads passages from the New Testament in dialogue with modern-day issues of racial justice.
The narratives and letters of the New Testament emerged from a particular set of historical contexts that differ from today’s, but they resonate with us because of how the issues they raise “rhyme” with subjects of contemporary relevance. Listening for these echoes of the present in the past, Love Sechrest utilizes her cultural experience and her perspective as a Black woman scholar to reassess passages in the New Testament that deal with intergroup conflict, ethnoracial tension, and power dynamics between dominant and minoritized groups.
After providing an overview of womanist biblical interpretation and related terminology, Sechrest utilizes an approach she calls “associative hermeneutics” to place select New Testament texts in dialogue with modern-day issues of racial justice. Topics include:
antiracist allyship and Jesus’s interaction with marginalized individuals in the Gospel of Matthew
cultural assimilation and Jesus’s teachings about family and acceptance in the Gospel of Luke
gendered stereotypes and the story of the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John
the experience of Black women and girls in the American criminal justice system and the woman accused of adultery in the Gospel of John
group identity and the incorporation of Gentiles into the early Jesus movement in Acts
privilege and Paul’s claims to apostolic authority in 2 Corinthians
coalition-building between diverse groups and the discussion of unity in Ephesians
government’s role in providing social welfare and early Christians’ relationship to the Roman Empire in Romans and Revelation
Through these creative and illuminating connections, Sechrest offers a rich bounty of new insights from Scripture—drawing out matters of justice and human dignity that spoke to early Christians and can speak still to Christians willing to listen today.