The Politics of Race and Ethnicity in Matthew's Passion Narrative
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In Matthew’s passion narrative, the ethnoracial identity of Jesus comes into sharp focus. The repetition of the title “King of the Judeans” (ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων) foregrounds the politics of race and ethnicity. Despite the explicit use of terminology, previous scholarship has understood the title curiously in non-ethnoracial ways. This book takes the peculiar omission in the history of interpretation as its point of departure. It provides an expanded ethnoracial reading of the text, and poses a fundamental ideological question that interrogates the pattern in the larger context of modern biblical scholarship. Wongi Park issues a critique of the dominant narrative and presents an alternative reading of Matthew’s passion narrative. He identifies a critical vocabulary and framework of analysis to decode the politics of race and ethnicity implicit in the history of interpretation. Ultimately, the book lends itself to a broader research agenda: the destabilization of the dominant narrative of early Christianity’s non-ethnoracial origins.
“Park has presented a powerful and destabilizing reading of a story whose interpretation is seen to be dominated by a narrative shaped through an ideology of ‘white invisibility’. … It would be fascinating to see Park apply his reading strategy to other parts of the Gospel of Matthew, both those that foreground marginalization and those which seem to speak of universal hope and inclusion.” (Paul Foster, The Expository Times, Vol. 131 (11), 2020)
“This is a valuable and provocative study, informed by current race theory, which effectively challenges the lack of attention to the ethnoracial dimensions of the labelling of Jesus in previous scholarship. … The book will clearly be of value to those interested in issues of ethnicity and race in biblical interpretation, but in view of the challenges it raises one hopes that it will also find a broader readership.” (David G. Horrell, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol. 42 (5), 2020)