Moving to and from the Margins: Reading Daniel 1 with Malay Muslim Minorities in Singapore

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

Being a minority religion in most parts of Asia, Christians tend to read the Bible from the experiences of their own interpreting communities so as to produce meaning that could be relevant to them. However, in Singapore, this becomes potentially problematic as the demographic of the church becomes more aligned with the dominant middle class, Chinese ethnic majority. In light of this, I propose a reading of Daniel 1 with Malay minorities in Singapore who are generally considered marginalised to the church in terms of race and class using perspectives taken from an anthology of short stories called Malay Sketches (2012) by local Malay writer Alfian Sa’at. By reading Daniel’s abstinence of the king’s food through Sa'at’s depiction of social dynamics and experiences of halal dining, I foreground issues within Daniel 1 that relate to struggles of hiddenness and ethics of survival while at the same time, trouble the story’s theology of success. I then juxtapose this with an interpretation by local Singaporean scholar, Gordon Wong in his book Faithful to the End: Message of Daniel for Life in the Real World (2006) which I see represents the interests of the Chinese majority, financially secure churches. This is in order to explore how a Malay minority’s perspectives could reveal the tendency of privileged readers to celebrate the actions of Daniel and his three friends in a way that subtly hints at a form of Christian triumphalism which seems congenial to their own middle class, ethnic majority status. By reading with an Other and contrasting it with a perspective from local church communities, I hope to demonstrate that moving the margins of biblical studies in Asia requires a move to and from the margins, even that which is marginal to already (religiously) marginalised interpreting communities.
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.
Internet address

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Moving to and from the Margins: Reading Daniel 1 with Malay Muslim Minorities in Singapore'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this