Tat-siong Benny Liew
Tat-Siong Benny Liew is Class of 1956 Professor in New Testament Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. He is the author of Politics of Parousia (Brill, 1999), and What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics? (University of Hawaii Press, 2008). In addition, he is the editor of the Semeia volume on “The Bible in Asian America” (with Gale Yee; SBL, 2002), Postcolonial Interventions (Sheffield Phoenix, 2009), They Were All Together in One Place? (with Randall Bailey and Fernando Segovia; SBL 2009), Reading Ideologies (Sheffield Phoenix, 2011), Psychoanalytical Mediations between Marxist and Postcolonial Readings of the Bible (with Erin Runions; SBL, 2016), Present and Future of Biblical Studies (Brill, 2018), and Colonialism and the Bible: Contemporary Reflections from the Global South (with Fernando Segovia; Lexington, 2018).
Liew is also the Series Editor of T&T Clark’s Study Guides to the New Testament (Bloomsbury). He previously served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. In addition, he has served on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion, and is currently Chair of the Council of the Society of Biblical Literature and of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion
“The Lord Needs Them”: Reading Matthew’s Beasts and the Sovereign Christ
The ecological crisis is a public crisis in the widest sense, because it literally involves all life forms. Talking about different life forms and different lives, scholars of animal studies have suggested that differences and hierarchies among humans cannot be adequately analyzed until and unless we look at the difference and hierarchy being constructed between human and non-human animals. Speciesism, in other words, provides a ready justification for some humans to discriminate against certain other humans—whether because of difference in race, gender, sexuality, etc.—as less than human, inhuman, more like animals, or simply beastly. Starting with Matthew’s odd depiction of Jesus’s “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem on both a donkey and a colt (Matthew 21:1-11), this essay attempts to destabilize the human/animal divide in Matthew’s Gospel. As Jacques Derrida’s provocatively points out, the sovereign itself is often beastly, even or especially as sovereignty is established and reinforced on account of the sovereign’s ultimate ability or power to exercise control over beasts and bestial forces. Our concern for life must not be limited to our own lives or even only human lives; it must also include lives of non-human animals.