God’s Economy: Biblical Studies from Latin America – Book Review

A Conversation Between Biblical Studies and Missiology
Editors:  Ross and Gloria Kinsler
Publisher:  Orbis Books (Distributed in Europe by Alban Books)
ISBN:  1 57075 587 6Add Content…

Book Review by  Dr Jonathan Ingleby, Head of Mission Studies, Redcliffe College.
God’s Economy comes out of the Latin American Liberation Theology tradition and as Ched Myers points out in his foreword, it proves that the voice of that movement has not faltered in recent years (as widely reported in the West) but been ignored.

One of the usual criticisms of Liberation Theology is that it has a flawed Biblical hermeneutic. It consistently reads into Scripture a particular economic and political agenda which it has discovered elsewhere, or so it is said.  Frankly, I doubt it.  God’s Economy, and other books like it, have convinced me that a radical economic agenda does indeed lie at the heart of the Biblical account, and that those who miss it often do so because they are too busy with their own economic arrangements.  The chapter by Elza Tamez ‘The Bible and Five Hundred Years of Conquest’ looks squarely at this issue and makes uncomfortable reading for us conquistadores.

Obviously, one would need to judge any book that expounds Biblical passages at least partly on the basis of its scholarship.  Well, there is no shortage of good scholarship here, and as Ched Myers also says: ‘the authors are some of the finest Bible scholars in Latin America’.  I particularly appreciated the Old Testament work with its careful expositions of the ideas of the Redeemer, the Sabbatical year and debt slavery, and the concept of Jubilee.

The New Testament section, as much as the Old Testament, places economics at the centre of the good news.  Mostly these studies draw on the gospels, and then again, mostly on Matthew and Luke.  There is a resounding final study, however, on New Testament apocalyptic, especially 1 Thessalonians, the Corinthian correspondence, Romans and Revelation, showing that this too has a vital economic dimension.

If, as I suspect is true, we have all too often excluded issues of economic justice from our reading of the Bible, this has tremendous consequences for mission.  Reading it back in again with the help of Latin American writers and books like God’s Economy might make all the difference.

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