success stories

Posted February 11, 2003

Book: The Bible on Suffering: Social and Political Implications
Editor: Anthony J. Tambasco
Paulist Press, NY, pp.216

Excerpt from Introduction:

The authors in this book seek to bridge the gap from what the text “meant” to what the text “means” for ethics. They start with the recognition that, at least implicitly, present ethical concerns (and other presuppositions) influence how one even approaches a biblical text, what one looks for, and what one sees as significant. The claim here is not that readers can arbitrarily make a text say anything they wish, a practice disparaged as eisegesis, that is, reading things into a text that are not there. Rather, the point here is that individual readers and communities never apprehend exhaustively the full and entire meaning of biblical texts. Perspectives and presuppositions not only influence but also limit the insights that one derives from texts. Indeed, texts — especially classical literature — take on a life of their own once they leave the hands of their authors, and as people and communities move along in time and place, their changing social and historical locations enable them to see new things in the texts. One can say that persons get the answers to questions that they ask. Biblical writings that have been interpreted in particular ways even for centuries can take on new meaning when read from fresh prespectives that arise from people in new times and places in history. Readers remain linked to texts, but they find new insights overlooked in the past, insights perhaps beyond even what the authors knowingly intended to convey in their literature.

Excerpt from Book:

Suffering more explicitly in its social dimensions as related to prophets and their concerns for social justice is also found in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes Jesus states: “Blessed are the who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs isth kingdom of Heaven. . . .

They are called blessed or happy because they will be rewarded in heaven for having suffered this persecution. We have clear indication, therefore, that the problem of suffering is not seen by Matthew as resolved in this life. The innocent who suffer unjustly will receive their reward in heaven, not on earth. Implicit in this statement, however, is not a passivity to suffering or resignation to oppression, but a sense that the suffering is “for the sake of righteousness” or, as we have been describing it, “for the sake of” God, a protest against injustice by suffering through it with fidelity to Jesus’ preaching about the kingdom and a certain hope that God remains sovereign.

Table of Contents:

Terrence W. Tilley

Introduction: The Bible and Human Suffering:
Anthony J. Tambasco

Psalm 44: Suffering “for the Sake of” God:
George Martin

Isaiah 52:13-53: 12: Unmasking the Mystery of the Suffering Servant:
Carol J. Dempsey with Anthony Tambasco

All for Nought: My Servant Job:
Susan F. Mathews

Qoheleth: Portrait of an Artist in Pain:
Marcus A. Gigliotti

When We Remembered Zion: The Significance of the Exile for Understanding Daniel:
Susan F. Mathews

Suffering in the Gospel of Matthew:
Dennis M. Sweetland

Roman Imprisonment and Paul’s Letter to Philemon:
Richard J. Cassidy

The View of Suffering Held by the Author of 1 Peter:
Patricia M McDonald

Salvific Suffering in John’s Apocalypse: The Church as Sacrament of Salvation:
Susan F. Mathews

Walter Brueggeman