Lion’s Den in the Lion City: Reading Daniel 6 through the Experiences of Political Prisoners in Singapore

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only

Abstract

One key question in reading Daniel 6 is whether the central thrust of the narrative is about living a faithful, quietist religious life in the face of empire or actively resisting its totalizing rule. This is a particularly acute issue in many parts of Asia emerging out of colonial rule as they experience re-colonisation by local elites. One such clash of ideologies between Christians and the state happened during the alleged Marxist conspiracy in the 1980s in Singapore (otherwise popularly known as the Lion City). Using a postcolonial strategy of contrapuntal reading, I read the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6) with the autobiographical accounts of two political prisoners at that time, Teo Soh Lung in Beyond the Blue Gate: Recollections of a Political Prisoner (2011) and Vincent Cheng in Persecuted for Justice's sake (2012) which could be considered as texts from the peripheries. Taking their experiences as a heuristic lens, I conclude that on the one hand piety and politics are not mutually exclusive. In fact, questions pertaining to which ought to be prioritized lack an empathy towards real life struggles against the incursions of empire into everyday living. On the other hand, their experiences could re-sensitise Asian readers by filling in the gaps in the narrative with their ordeals in captivity. That said, their experiences as Christians with the state also problematises the apparent success of Daniel by exposing the underlying triumphalistic innuendoes which tends to eclipse their struggles especially since they did not enjoy success in the manner that Daniel did. Thus, by drawing together similar experiences of Daniel and political prisoners in Singapore in the face of empire, I show how postcolonial criticism is able to give some resolution to and more importantly move beyond the current polemics of piety and politics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventSociety of Biblical Literature International Meeting with the Korean Society of Old Testament Studies, The New Testament Society of Korea, and Society of Asian Biblical Studies Conference 2016 - Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
Duration: 02 Jul 201607 Jul 2016
https://www.sbl-site.org/meetings/congresses_pastmeetings.aspx#IM (Link to past meetings)

Conference

ConferenceSociety of Biblical Literature International Meeting with the Korean Society of Old Testament Studies, The New Testament Society of Korea, and Society of Asian Biblical Studies Conference 2016
Country/TerritoryKorea, Democratic People's Republic of
CitySeoul
Period02/07/1607/07/16
OtherIn partnership with the Korean Society of Old Testament Studies, The New Testament Society of Korea, and the Society of Asian Biblical Studies, SBL will hold its 2016 International Meeting in Seoul, South Korea. The meeting provides new, unique, and exciting opportunities to make connections, expand our scholarly perspectives, and support the work of colleagues across the world. We look forward to your contribution and participation.
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