Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Marxist Criticism of the Bible

I have really enjoyed reading the comments to my series about the Socialism of the Bible, particularly focusing on Luke-Acts. In fact, I usually just do not receive this much attention...perhaps that's why I have continued to post on it. Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity. Anyway, I am hoping all of this posting will lay the preliminary study to something more systematic in the future.

I do not really think, at least in these posts, that I am saying anything new or original. Perhaps something lost or intermittently forgotten. In fact, it is interesting to note among the more positive responses to my postings, the backgrounds of people who have posted have ranged quite a bit: youth pastor in what seems to be a more conservative or at least moderate church (correct me if I'm wrong), a Christian who is trying to create the communist vision of Jesus on earth, and, although not responding here, I have been pointed to other scholars saying similar things in these passages and other passages of the Bible.

This gets me to the title of this post. I do not really claim to be doing a Marxist reading of Luke-Acts. Why not? I have only hinted at issues of modes of production, ideological relations (Althusser), or anything like hegemony (Gramsci). I just have not read enough Marxist critical theory, at least not yet (or I do not feel I have). I do think there is room to think about these issues in terms of Jesus' Kingdom of God vis-a-vis a certain utopian vision/critique found in Marxist studies. That Jesus' call to radical wealth redistribution, although it is hardly a call for "workers of the world unite," does undermine the current reigning ideology with an alternate economic vision that has religious and political implications (and literary since Luke-Acts is itself an ideological product promoting a communalist ethic). And perhaps reading more carefully in these forms of critique is what is necessary before doing something more with these preliminary observations. Indeed, it is one thing to say Jesus was socialist (or sort of), and quite another thing to do a thorough Marxist critique of Luke-Acts of Jesus' economic vision in terms of issues of ideological relations. I think, though, there is a lot of room in spatial theory in conjunction with utopianism to discuss these issues as well. That would fold quite well in my current interests in "space-time" of holiness and heavenliness (itself a type of utopianism).

And so, while I am working through Luke-Acts (I am currently predicting a total of 10 posts on it, to keep the posts at a short, readable length), I am reading with great intellectual pleasure Roland Boer's book, Marxist Criticism of the Bible. Boer blogs at Stalin's Moustache. His book focuses on reading passages of the Hebrew Bible in conjunction with a particular Marxist theorist. It has been quite illuminating and enjoyable. I have read the first two chapters, at least, with great interest. And I am highly looking forward to the chapter on Henri Lefebvre and the production of space in 1 Samuel (since space, or space-time, production is a lot of what I do). I do not currently plan to review the book here, but I do highly recommend it. It, in fact, is a good primer of different intellectual currents in Marxist studies and the types of critique they open up or allow. It would be nice to have a book like this for New Testament / Early Christian Studies.

No comments: