The Politics of Jesús is a powerful new biography of Jesus told from the margins. Miguel A. De La Torre argues that we all create Jesus in our own image, reflecting and reinforcing the values of communities—sometimes for better, and often for worse. In light of the increasing economic and social inequality around the world, De La Torre asserts that what the world needs is a Jesus of solidarity who also comes from the underside of global power. The Politics of Jesús is a search for a Jesus that resonates specifically with the Latino/a community, as well as other marginalized groups. The book unabashedly rejects the Eurocentric Jesus for the Hispanic Jesús, whose mission is to give life abundantly, who resonates with the Latino/a experience of disenfranchisement, and who works for real social justice and political change.
While Jesus is an admirable figure for Christians, The Politics of Jesús highlights the way the Jesus of dominant culture is oppressive and describes a Jesús from the barrio who chose poverty and disrupted the status quo. Saying “no” to oppression and its symbols, even when one of those symbols is Jesus, is the first step to saying “yes” to the self, to liberation, and symbols of that liberation. For Jesus to connect with the Hispanic quest for liberation, Jesús must be unapologetically Hispanic and compel people to action. The Politics of Jesús provocatively moves the study of Jesús into the global present
Recognizing that cultural constructions of Jesus have been used by Euro-Americans in the oppression of colonized peoples, De La Torre constructs a portrait of Jesus from a Hispanic perspective. Juxtaposing the experiences of Latinas/os with Gospel accounts of Jesus, he constructs a powerful image of Jesus the liberator. He notes that Jesus came from the margins of the empire (i.e., Nazareth), which makes him a despised and suspect alien. Consequently, Jesus is both one of and also lives among the poor. Jesus himself notes, in the Gospels, that ‘the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ Highlighting the suffering experienced by colonized and immigrant Hispanics, De La Torre notes that the liberator Jesus is unjustly persecuted and suffers. This suffering, however, is redemptive, and those who would follow him are invited to ‘take up the cross.’ Suffering becomes redemptive and so a ground of hope. De La Torre, in constructing this Hispanic Jesus/Jesús, invites other oppressed peoples to consult their own contexts and construct their own liberating Christologies. He notes, however, that all concerned with replacing the Jesus of colonialism with a liberating Jesus are engaged in a common project. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; professionals; general readers.
[This is] a novel turn that might be just what Christology needs in this day and age. And it is a proposal that allows a further distinction between a white Jesus, and a Jesús of black and brown bodies, something ever more important in these days. And it is in this way that De La Torre gives his greatest contribution, as a Latino voice, in a white academia and a largely white church – allows for a deep breath for black and brown lives, a breath that allows us to ponder the Jesús who messes with oppression and injustice, brings new life, must die and is resurrected once more.
— Word & World
The fourth entry in Rowman & Littlefield’s ‘Religion in the Modern World’ series, this text offers a full-fledged Hispanic political theology centered, not on the Jesus/ Christ of Euro-American theology—a figure complicit in Latina/o oppression—but on Jesús/Jesucristo, who stands in solidarity with downtrodden Latino/as…. T.’s use of Hispanic names for biblical figures and concepts proves highly effective at startling the reader out of complacent readings of familiar texts. This increases the already considerable efficacy with which T. recovers the unsettling element to the gospel narratives…. [T]his text is thought-provoking and innovative, with the theological sophistication and accessibility to engage specialist and non- specialist alike. It is worth considering for any syllabus covering liberation/postcolonial theologies.
— Theological Studies
This book is doubly thought-provoking: first, in its interpreting the events of the life of Jesús from an Hispanic perspective; second, in its repeated paralleling of Gospel parables and teachings with the Hispanic experience, including the author’s; for example, the rich young ruler (Mt. 13:22) becomes a ‘CEO of a multinational corporation’ and the teaching of Jesús is sharply rephrased: ‘To ignore the cry of those who are marginalized is to deny Jesús’ message, regardless of whether or not we confess our belief in Jesús and proclaim his name with our lips.’
— Catholic Books Review
The thicker Jesús that Miguel A. De La Torre describes is a Jesús of liberation. This good news of Jesús present lo cotidiano (in the everyday) lives of the marginalized and the oppressed, compels Christians to look at the manner in which we recognize God with us, working for the liberation of the oppressed and the oppressor from injustice.
— Reggie L. Williams, McCormick Theological Seminary
In the tradition of Yoder, De La Torre challenges dominant neoliberal and imperialist readings of Jesus and offers insight into new ways of reading Jesus through the eyes of Hispanic Christians. A provocative read!
— Rebecca Todd Peters, Elon University
Over the past few decades, biblical scholars have had conversations about reading ethics in the Bible and about the politics of reading the Bible. Now we have a prolific ethicist, Miguel De La Torre, reading the Bible and writing about the politics of Jesús. De La Torre presents a Jesús that is relevant to not only Latino/as but also to anyone who cares about justice and liberation. This book is about what Jesús means for our needy and troubled world today, as well as how a radical ethics of liberation may be grounded in the Bible’s stories about Jesus.
— Tat-siong Benny Liew, College of the Holy Cross
The Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre has done it again! In the tradition of his award-winning Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins and in further development of his central argument in Latina/o Social Ethics, De La Torre argues both with and against John Howard Yoder in his presentation of a ‘Jesús over and against Jesus.’ Readers will be challenged and provoked by De La Torre’s intriguing ‘Christology with an accent.’
— Grace Yia-Hei Kao, Claremont School of Theology
In The Politics of Jesús, Miguel A. De La Torre situates his curiosity about Jesus and Christology through autobiography, scripture, and global sociocultural history as he challenges us to acknowledge our subjective biography of Jesus, which leads to an empire-seeking, genocidal, satanic Jesus who demands realized oppression and injustice. With electrifying passion, formidable intellect, and a rich historical, sociocultural, Cuban-American legacy, De La Torre challenges our sensibilities regarding how we read and interpret Jesus from the lens of a Latina/o Jesús salvific figure, so that we honor the imago dei of marginalized Hispanics. He calls us to critical, analytical thinking and hermeneutics that exposes the lived experience of the disposed, disenfranchised, and disinherited—those deemed ‘other.’ ThePolitics of Jesús is a must-read for those who want to engage the message and meaning of the gospel, towards a more just social order: to set the captives free.
— Dr. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Shaw University Divinity School