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Durham e-Theses
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Transparency in Early Christian Texts: A Postcolonial Reading

ALEJANDRO, ROBERTO,ELIUD (2016) Transparency in Early Christian Texts: A Postcolonial Reading. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In this dissertation, I propose an alternative approach to applying postcolonial theory to early Christian texts than that presently operative in the field of Early Christian Studies. Current postcolonial methodologies, following a pattern established in the arena of Biblical criticism, focus on Homi Bhabha’s idea of mimicry as they seek to locate resistance to hegemonic exercises in early Christian texts.
But mimicry analyses tend to lead to a reading of early Christian texts in which strikingly similar discourses receive very different treatments depending on whether the author is a pre-Constantinian Christian (thus occupying an analogously colonized position), or a post-Constantinian Christian (thus occupying the space of the colonizer). The discourses of the latter are criticized for their hegemonic operation, while the former are treated as resistors of hegemony, suggesting mimicry analysis only ever touches the person speaking, but not the speech itself.
Bhabha has argued, however, that his thought is oriented towards intervention in discursive conditions of dominance, and he criticizes colonial resistors who adopt the discursive habits of the colonizer in resisting colonial subjugation. Thus, a postcolonial reading of early Christian texts, especially one predicated on Bhabha’s work, should not treat similarly dominant discourses differently based on who is speaking.
Analyzing early Christian texts in light of what Bhabha calls transparency — the way particular and localized values become invisible (transparent) within discourses, masquerading as objective norms that justify hegemonic outcomes — allows for a more effective intervention in hegemonic aspects of early Christian discourses, especially where self-definition is concerned. A transparency analysis also allows us to unite two streams currently operating separately in early Christian studies: the problem of essentialism in Christian self-definition, and the question of whether race is an organizing principle in early Christian self-definition.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Transparency, Postcolonial Theory, Bhabha, Origen, Eusebius, early Christianity, Christian self-definition
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Apr 2016 16:21

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