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  • Writer's pictureGODVERSITY

Reading The Bible With The Damned


Ekblad's book is an excellent and considerate piece of work, taking into account the perspective of outsiders and those hopelessly entrenched in the margins of society. He is keenly aware of postcolonial theologies and has moved beyond reactionary rhetoric toward describing the theological nuances arising when someone from the mainstream culture engages the marginalized and oppressed. Whether they are gang members, illegal immigrants, prison inmates, or peasants in the Two-Thirds World, these perspectives must be contemplated by the dominant culture and the ivory tower of the academy. Ekblad sees this as a key to the resurgence of vibrant theology and biblical interpretation in the North American church.

"Reading Scripture and ministering to people at the margins is a refiner's fire for theology, which is often put to the test and often found inadequate." Ekbladguides the reader through complex and textured gradations in theology gained through ministry among society's "damned." Throughout, he discusses why traditional readings are inadequate for individuals on the margins, and he initiates close readings of different books of the Bible. Beginning with Genesis, moving through Exodus, and later in Isaiah and the Psalms, Ekblad notes how exiled individuals identify with the biblical narratives. From the New Testament, he discusses the Gospels and Paul's letters. The insights gained may create seismic paradigm shifts that the mainstream church needs.

About Bob Ekblad: Bob and Gracie Ekblad are founders and co-directors of Tierra Nueva (New Earth) in Burlington, Washington. Together they minister at Tierra Nueva and at their home-based retreat center New Earth Refuge in the Skagit Valley. They have three adult children. Bob is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He holds a ThD in Old Testament and is known internationally for his courses and workshops on reading the Bible. Gracie is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and holds a Master's in Theology. She pastors and teaches at Tierra Nueva and beyond, emphasizing discipleship, holistic healing, and liberation.

As Directors of Tierra Nueva, Bob and Gracie work together with a team of staff and volunteers to serve immigrants from Latin America, inmates, homeless people, and people struggling with addictions. Bob's roles include:

  • Serving as director of The People's Seminary

  • Part-time chaplain to inmates in Skagit County Jail

  • Teaching as Sessional Lecturer for Regent College of Vancouver, BC

  • Serving as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies faculty at The Seattle School and at Westminster Theological Centre in the U.K.

  • Serving as an Elder with Servants of Asia's Urban Poor


READING THE BIBLE WITH THE DAMNED: By E.Robert Ekblad. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press,2005. Pp. xviii 203, ISBN 978-0-664-22917-7.

Reviewed by: Daniel Orlando Álvarez Regent University School of Divinity


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