Race and Ethnicity Discourse in Biblical Studies and Beyond

Sung Uk Lim


This paper aims at foregrounding race and ethnicity discourse in Biblical Studies and beyond in order to undermine transhistorical and transcultural racism and ethnocentrism in religious discourse. It is my argument that matters of race and ethnicity should be approached as analytical categories in an interdisciplinary manner, albeit in a specific context, Hellenistic, Roman, Jewish, or Christian. In doing so, I first examine the works of Steve Fenton as well as Robert Miles and Malcolm Brown in order to look closely at race and ethnicity discourse in the ancient Mediterranean world, especially from a sociological perspective. Then, I indicate how Jonathan Hall and Shaye Cohen examine Hellenic and Jewish identity, respectively, with a focus on ethnic identity in the Greco-Roman world. Finally, I consider how Judith Lieu and Denise Buell analyze early Christian identity as a racial or ethnic discourse in the Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman matrix. Hence, I contend that identity in general and racial-ethnic identity in particular are by no means stable and static in essentialist terms, but rather they are fluid along the ostensible axis of fixed identity.


Race, Ethnicity, Discourse, Hellenic, Roman, Jewish, Christian, Identity, Essentialism, Constructivism, Fixity, Fluidity.

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