In this provocative study, Joseph A. Marchal argues that biblical interpretation, but most especially Pauline studies, must engage the full range of critical challenges brought by feminist studies, postcolonial studies, and Roman imperial studies. A feminist, postcolonial analysis requires negotiating the gaps, overlaps, and tensions between these three "strands" by adopting an explicitly multi-axial focus and an interdisciplinary methodology. Using Philippians as a test case, the analysis covers issues of both ancient and contemporary import: from imitation and authority to travel and contact. As a result, Marchal provides strikingly new perspectives on Paul's letters and fresh challenges to the paradigms of Pauline interpretation.
In The Politics of Heaven, Joseph Marchal skillfully engages feminist and postcolonial analysis in order to explore the rhetorics of Paul's letter to the Philippians in its Roman imperial context. He develops a tightly crafted, multifaceted, and nuanced approach to the 'colonized kyriarchal space' of both the letter and the reader. This book is a fresh contribution to a new evolving rhetorical paradigm in scholarship on Paul. It is a must read for anyone in Pauline studies, and I highly recommend it to students and faculty alike.
—Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Krister Stendahl Professor, Harvard Divinity School
Joseph A. Marchal is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College and the author of numerous articles and papers in feminist and postcolonial interpretation.