Dong Hyeon Jeong
Rev. Dr. Dong Hyeon Jeong is the Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He served as a missionary in the Philippines for two years with his parents who are missionaries themselves since 1987. He is an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church. His forthcoming book is entitled With the Wild Beasts, Learning from the Trees: Animality, Vegetality, and (Colonized) Ethnicity in the Gospel of Mark.
Dong Hyeon Jeong, “Revisiting and Reclaiming the Markan Ochlos as Minjung from an Overseas Foreign Workers’ (OFW) Perspective”
Ahn Byung-Mu’s monumental activist biblical interpretation of the Markan ochlos as the poor and oppressed people of South Korea during the 70s and 80s endures and still speaks volumes in the 21st century. It endures because Ahn argues that the minjung are not essentially just for the Koreans. When confronted by a scholar about the applicability of minjung theology in Germany, Ahn points out that the minjung of Germany are the foreign workers who are maltreated and unseen in the German society.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the maltreated and unseen, the 21st century minjung, are the Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW). Their stories echo and resonate with the plight of the Markan ochlos in Mark 6:30-44, the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” narrative. Both of them left their homes to find “salvation.” Both of them “worked” for their food. After receiving their sustenance, they have leftovers or remittances to bring home to their family and communities.
I deliberately seek to read Mark 6:30-44 with an OFW perspective because their plight needs to be seen/read/heard not just in our global society (where they are abused and maltreated) but also in biblical studies. During SBL-AAR annual meetings, they are the ones who replenish our water, clear the trash bins, and clean the rooms where we pontificate about our how much we care about the oppressed. And yet, seldom or never have we uplifted their presence and conditions. The OFWs liberate us from complacency and indifference toward those who are unseen and even maltreated.