Borderline Exegesis

By (author) Leif E. Vaage

Paperback - £23.95

Publication date:

15 February 2016

Length of book:

216 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271062884

In Borderline Exegesis, Leif Vaage presents an alternative approach to biblical interpretation, or exegesis—an approach that bends the boundaries of the traditional North American methodology to analyze the meaning of biblical texts for a wider audience. To accomplish this, Vaage engages in a practice he calls “borderline exegesis.” Adapting anthropological notions of borderlands, borderline exegesis writes biblical scholarship peripherally, unearthing the Bible’s textual and discursive borderlands and allowing biblical texts to be at play with the utopian imagination.

The book’s main chapters comprise four case studies that engage in a “divergent reading” of the book of Job, the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistle of James, and the book of Revelation. Informed by the author’s time in war-torn Peru, these chapters take on themes that the poor and disenfranchised have historically claimed—themes of social justice, the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of prevailing social practices, and, most importantly, utopian demand for another possible world. The chapters are held together by the presentation of a greater theoretical framework that provides reflection on the exegetical practices within and confronts biblical scholars with important questions about the aims of the work they do. Taken as a whole, Borderline Exegesis seeks to disclose what the professional practice of textual interpretation might become if we refuse the conventional distances between academic practice and lived experience.

“With his proposal of a ‘borderline exegesis,’ Leif Vaage challenges traditional biblical scholarship, opening the possibility of reading the Bible with a utopian imagination. Such a reading is a conversation with the biblical texts that takes place in the margins of well-being, where the ‘good life’ cannot be taken for granted and life itself is often threatened. Stimulated by his long-term contact with borderline experiences of life in the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Vaage’s reading of various biblical texts shows how this kind of exegesis can help imagine a better world.”

—Santiago Guijarro, Pontifical University of Salamanca, president of the Spanish Biblical Association