Most helpful positive review
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
An important book to get into America's pews
on May 24, 2003
De La Torre must have learned a lot about how to explain difficult concepts about biblical interpretation by teaching undergraduates right out of their church youth groups at an evangelical college.
He has used his classroom experience to write a crystal-clear, focused and even entertaining book explaining that our interpretations of the Bible are culturally influenced in such a way as to reinforce ideas and practices that baptize our own privileges and justify the oppression of others.
The first several chapters of the book are as clear an explanation of how biblical interpretations can be culturally flavored in such a way as to under gird the reader's self-interest as I have read anywhere.
However, De La Torre never depreciates Scripture or undermines its value and authority. He is unabashedly Christian. He affirms his commitment to his faith and the book which is its foundation.
At the same time, he is clear that Scripture has commonly been read and interpreted by the advantaged and learned in such a way as to justify racist, misogynist and homophobic biases.
He uses illustrations from his own experience as a Hispanic man to help his readers begin to understand that what often seems straightforward and obvious in Scripture isn't necessarily so.
He has also carefully listened to African-American, Asian-American, feminist and gay thinkers; he includes in his book their thoughts about how their ethnic and class perspectives open to them new insights into the meaning of Scripture that the dominant church culture usually misses.
Later chapters in the book, in which De La Torre makes a case for cultural interpretations of Christ are a tad more forced and less satisfying. (Surely we don't need to make Christ Hispanic in order for the cross and resurrection to be relevant for the experience of Hispanic people. The oppressed can experience God identifying with their oppression through Christ without having to change Jesus' genes. He is still a marginalized Jew, and this is why he speaks today to marginalized people of whatever race or culture.)
Yet, this is quibbling. This is a fine book that should make all Christians rethink the way we read the Bible and help the church become more like Christ. I am using it to teach a class for my congregation and encouraging my members to read it.
The material in this book, thanks to De La Torre's patient and clear writing, is accessible to almost anybody sitting in our pews. Some may be convinced; everyone will be pushed to rethink easy assumptions about Scripture.