Saturday, 28 July 2007

Palestinian Liberation Theology

At the centre of Sabeel's work is its theology, which has been developed and led over the years by Naim Ateek - beginning with his book "Justice and Only Justice" published in 1989.

It begins with the fact that Jesus was born under an occupation, lived under it and knew no different - just like many of the Palestinian population. This is therefore the context in which the Gospels should be read. All of what Jesus said and did was under an occupation. Therefore the question needs to be asked - what can Jesus teach us about life under occupation? This is where Palestinian liberation theology begins.

Unlike other liberation theologies (like those developed in Latin America) this strand cannot take the Exodus as its paradigm, because this is Israel's justification for its existence. Instead, Ateek suggests that it should be the story of Naboth's vineyard in 1 Kings 21, because it relates to justice and land. Justice is the important theme within this theology.

One of the issues is one of exclusivity. Many Jews believe that the land was given to them exclusively, so for Palestinians an inherent message within the Gospels has to be one of inclusivity.

It's always going to be difficult for Palestinian Christians to read the Bible in the same way as Christians in the west, owing to the connotations of the Old Testament and its relationship with the Jewish state. Therefore Christ becomes the hermenutic within Palestinian theology.

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