Institute of Mennonite Studies’ new book completes intercultural Bible reading series

Published: October 8, 2020

By David C. Cramer | October 2020

ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — The Institute of Mennonite Studies (IMS) announces the release of The Widow and the Judge — Memory, Resistance and Hope: Intercultural Reading of Luke 18:1–8 in Latin American Contexts of Impunity, edited by Hans de Wit, Ph.D., emeritus professor in the faculty of theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Edgar Antonio López, Ph.D., professor in the faculty of theology at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia. IMS is the research agency of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana.

The Widow and the Judge is the fifth and final volume in IMS’s Intercultural Biblical Hermeneutics Series (IBHS), culminating the work of the previous volumes. The series highlights the readings of “ordinary” people in small communities around the world in order to foster greater understanding of one another across cultures, as well as reconciliation and greater justice. In this spirit, The Widow and the Judge examines readings of the parable from Luke 18:1–8 across 12 groups in Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia.

“This book compellingly illustrates the transformative potential of intercultural reading of the Bible,” states Daniel Schipani, Dr.Psy., Ph.D., professor emeritus of pastoral care and counseling at AMBS and member of the IBHS editorial board. “The voice of the widow demanding justice resonates in the text through the voices of Latin American ‘ordinary’ readers who struggle in the face of impunity. The communal reading of Luke’s parable rekindles hope and frees the imagination in the search for healing and peace.”

“The results of our research leave us with an important message for theology, the church and pastoral ministry,” writes de Wit in the book’s conclusion. “Through their liturgical acts, their praxis of faith and their reading of Scripture, the reading communities participating in our project constituted themselves as a small communio sanctorum [holy communion] that represents a model for the universal church.”

The IBHS is a collaboration between IMS and the Foundation Dom Hélder Câmara Chair, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, with previous volumes published in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. IMS Director Jamie Pitts, Ph.D., writes that the series “represents the fruitful convergence of the Anabaptist and ecumenical convictions that the local congregation is the primary location of biblical interpretation and that enduring peace involves intercultural encounters.”

“The series’ legacy is visible in the growth of empirical methods in biblical studies, as well as in the fields of theology, peacebuilding and beyond,” he notes.

Schipani adds that in empirical-intercultural biblical hermeneutics, the series “documents groundbreaking scholarly work as well as faith-based interpretations of the Bible,” resulting in a new field in academic biblical studies.

In addition to the five books in the series, IMS has published New Perspectives on Intercultural Readings of the Bible: Hermeneutical Explorations in Honor of Hans de Wit; In Love with the Bible and Its Ordinary Readers: Hans de Wit and the Intercultural Bible Reading Project; and Through the Eyes of Another: Intercultural Reading of the Bible, all of which extend the work of the intercultural Bible reading project.

The late biblical theologian Walter Wink, Ph.D., has written of this project, “Quietly, almost imperceptibly, biblical study has been undergoing a Copernican revolution. People are recovering the Bible’s capacity to act as a catalyst for self-criticism and transformation. They are learning to read Scripture from multicultural perspectives, and have their own preconceptions challenged by the authenticity of the experience of others’ encounters with the text. Brilliantly conceived, this intercultural Bible reading project might just save biblical study from its Babylonian captivity to dogmatism and cultural isolation.”

Copies of The Widow and the Judge, as well as all previous volumes in the intercultural Bible reading project, can be purchased from the AMBS Bookstore. The five volumes of the IBHS can also be purchased as a set directly from IMS.

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