Asian Biblical Hermeneutics as Multicentric Dialogue
: Towards a Singaporean Way of Reading

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In this thesis, I propose a way of reading the Bible in the context of Singapore which is my country of origin. My understanding of context draws in what decolonial thinkers, Anibal Quijano (2007) and Walter Mignolo (2012) have argued to be the modern/colonial world system and social epistemologist, Jose Medina’s (2006) polyphonic contextualism. This allows me to better situate the contextual reader within current networks of knowledge production and argue for the goals of reading the Bible in Singapore to be transformative praxis and identity formation. With the understanding of Singapore as an epistemic terrain embedded in global and local networks of knowledge production, I outline the hermeneutical norms that control contextual reading of the Bible in chapter 2. In order to better aid the task of constructing this hermeneutic, I also survey scholarship on biblical hermeneutics in chapter 3 both in the West and Asia to distil important considerations and useful reading strategies. With these considerations in mind, I propose that reading the Bible in context requires at the metatheoretical level a negotiation between western, Asian and Singaporean standpoints in chapter 4. This is facilitated by a conscientisation framework that checks the posture of specialist readers in relation to nonspecialist readers in a specific context so as to ensure submerged voices are not silenced in favour of dominant epistemologies; and a conversation framework that facilitates understanding the Other that tries to avoid Orientalist and nativist/nationalist dangers. In chapter 5, I then test the proposed method through reading the stories of Daniel to see the discursive effects such a reading strategy has on issues I outline in the analysis of my context pertaining to praxis and identity. In my final chapter, I reflect on how the reading exercise impacts on my proposed understanding of Bible and Singapore. I show that it fundamentally shifts the understanding of the Bible to what Justin Ukpong (2002) argues to be a ‘site of struggle’ and an inclusive canon that is hospitable to the many voices, especially of the marginalised in my context of Singapore.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorJonathan Stökl (Supervisor) & Paul Joyce (Supervisor)

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