What I’m reading: Michael Mawson

What I’m reading: Michael Mawson

Michael Mawson is Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Ethics at the United Theological College. His work and interests focus on the areas of disability theology, the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theology and ageing, and postcolonial theology. Here are some of the books he has been reading and thinking about lately… 

One of the best things about moving to the United Theological College last year has been the chance to learn from new students and to begin orientating my reading and thinking to the issues that are pressing for this part of the world. Here are three of the books that have been helpful for me over the last six months:

1. Meredith Lake, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History (NewSouth Publishing, 2018). Meredith Lake’s award-winning book provides a rich and textured history of Australia, organised around appeals to and uses of the Bible. Among other things, Lake shows how the Bible played a central role in framing early encounters between settlers and indigenous peoples. Lake’s book is engaging and accessible throughout, packed full of anecdotes and insightful observations. As a recent immigrant, this book proved an excellent introduction to Australia and Australians. (And just to note that Lake will be giving the 2021 May MacLeod lecture for the United Theological College).

2. Willie Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (Yale University Press, 2011). Willie Jennings’ magnum opus is one of the most important books in theology in recent decades. Focusing on a series of specific moments in Christian and colonial history, Jennings traces the emergence of race as a means of organising the world and its peoples. In particular, he shows how the category of race provided Europeans with a means of understanding indigenous peoples as separate (and separable) from land and place. Furthermore, Jennings shows how deeply these origins and uses of race were intertwined with theological ideas. This book provides the foundational text for a Master of Theology subject I am currently teaching at UTC.

3. Mark Brett, Political Healing and Trauma: Biblical Ethics for a Postcolonial World (Eerdmans, 2016). As a theologian and Christian ethicist, I’ve had fairly few opportunities in recent years to read new work by Old Testaments scholars. Mark Brett’s book is impressive in that it reflects upon the role and possibilities for a public theology, contains detailed engagements with Old Testament texts and scholarship, and makes a significant contribution to ongoing work in restorative justice and reconciliation. And it even contains a brief discussion of the Maori prophet Te Kooti Arikirangi. Is this what Old Testament scholars are doing these days? Wow!

This piece originally appeared on the United Theological College website. View the original article here.

Michael Mawson is Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Ethics at the United Theological College.

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