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March 30, 2011 - Uriah Y. Kim (Ph.D. ’04), Professor of Hebrew Bible at Hartford Seminary, has received a prestigious 2011-2012 Lilly Theological Research Grant for his new book, The Politics of Othering in the Book of Judges.
Kim will spend the fall 2011 semester researching. His project is a multi-layered historical-critical and postcolonial reading of the Book of Judges in conversation with biblical studies, American history, and postcolonial interpretations.
In the introduction to his book, Kim notes the application of “the politics of othering” in colonial America where the varied groups of Europeans forged themselves together as “Americans” in contrast to the indigenous people whom they viewed as the common enemy.
He then explores the evidence of this strategy in the Book of Judges, which may reflect, on the one hand, a historical struggle by a mixed multitude of highlanders to formulate a distinct identity in contrast to “enemies all around them” during the Iron Age I (c. 1200 to 1000 BCE) and, on the other hand, a people’s concern for corporate survival and identity maintenance in imperial/colonial contexts.
In his reading of Judges, Kim identifies and analyzes four literary-rhetorical methods of “anti-conquest” ideology, which postcolonial studies has identified as a literary strategy the colonizers used to justify their conquest of foreign lands while maintaining their innocence.
He argues, however, that even though the Israelites used such literary methods, the text also shows some uneasiness toward employing imperial ideologies to sanction their desire to dominate the others and to depict the others as the enemies since they themselves were victims of the empires.
Kim will conclude the book by reflecting on how the politics of othering is still operative in today’s American society and how Judges speaks to this context.
He authored Decolonizing Josiah: Toward a Postcolonial Reading of the Deuteronomistic History and Identity and Loyalty in the David Story: A Postcolonial Reading and is Senior Editor of the journal Reviews in Religion and Theology.