Towards a Samoan postcolonial reading of discipleship in the Matthean gospel

Christianity Religion Cultural awareness Cultural identity Samoa
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The characteristics of traditional discipleship taught and practiced in Samoan society reflect the consideration of the church’s needs and demands which are more important than family. For example, one characteristic of becoming a disciple is that he or she is expected to abandon his or her family and follow Jesus. However, public criticism of this tradition is beginning to emerge among the Samoan people, in particular the new generation, who consider it to be one of the main causes behind the increase in domestic problems such as poverty among local people. As a result, the church is heavily criticised, in particular its leaders and the ministers, for their persistent assertion of this traditional interpretation. As a Samoan reader of the Bible, I consider the voicing of that concern important, not only for the new generation which is beginning to question the relevance of traditional discipleship, but also for members of the older generation who continue to regard that type of discipleship as an important part of who they are as Samoans. Thus, a biblical understanding of how Jesus dealt with the needs and rights of the local people in a local place, needs attention, and as such, is the focus of this study. Attention to the world of the reader in biblical interpretation provides a framework for interpreting Matthean discipleship. It brings another dimension into reading the theme of discipleship in the Bible. This thesis presents an interpretation of Jesus’ proclamation of ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν (the kingdom of the heavens) as exemplifying discipleship in the Matthean gospel considered from my own location as a reader in the Samoan world. This location has shaped my sense of identity as Samoan, in relation to the significance of the local Samoan world/s as a local place. Such significance includes social, cultural, economic, political, historical, and religious values shared and lived by the Samoan people in their local context. This location provides a hermeneutic through which I seek to explore Jesus’ ministry in Matt 4:12-25 and 7:24-8:22, utilizing the interpretive analytics of sociorhetorical criticism.

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