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Faith In The Face Of Empire
The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes
by Mitri Raheb
Publisher:Orbis Books from Alban Books
I am writing this review as the latest Israeli offensive against the people of Gaza is underway. It is a poignant moment to reflect – with the help of Mitri Raheb – on what the Bible might look like through the eyes of the Palestinian people.
Raheb’s approach to the politics and theology of the Middle East is intensely personal – he is a Palestinian Christian – yet he succeeds in simultaneously locating the conflict in an historical and contemporary global context. Successive empires have occupied Palestine for almost 3,000 years and this continues today under the guise of Israel. Arguably, resolution of the Middle East conflict is not to be found in the region, but in the politics of Empire that continues to dominate world politics as it has for many successive generations.
Enter Jesus, a Palestinian Jew living under Roman occupation and who was eventually killed for challenging both that Empire and the complicity of religious leaders who found power in conniving with their political masters. Raheb draws out the theological questions that current political reality poses for Palestinians – amongst them, where is God? – and suggests a spirituality of response grounded in the non-violence of Jesus.
Is it possible to have an alternative vision for the Middle East than the ongoing experience of war and oppression that flows through all of our lifetimes? Raheb believes so and points to faith in God and specifically in the Kingdom.
The challenge for Western Christians reading this book is to accept our part in the suffering of the Palestinian people. As beneficiaries of Empire, are we prepared to challenge the politics of Empire upon which our society depends in order to help deliver peace through justice? Donating money to relieve suffering is crucial, but it does nothing to prevent yet more bloodshed.
Reviewer: David Ford (09/08/14)