About Exploring the Old Testament in Asia
A Conversation with Jerry Hwang and Angukali Rotokha
Every Voice: What led you to put this book together? What problem or issue(s) are you seeking to address?
Jerry Hwang & Angukali Rotokha: Back in 2019, the Asia Theological Association and I (Jerry) realized that there was no textbook on the Old Testament that was both Asian and evangelical in approach. As a result, the available textbooks were leading Asian students who used them to learn Western approaches even though the OT has more similarities overall to Asian contexts than Western ones. Angukali Rotokha, an Indian OT scholar, quickly came on board as co-editor to provide South Asian expertise to go with my background in East Asian cultures.
EV: What is the thesis of your book?
JH&AR: The Old Testament originated in ancient West Asia, so using the interpretive lenses of modern East Asia and South Asia can aid Christians in every place to understand the OT better than if they only used the Western lenses that have typically characterized OT scholarship. Topics such as monotheism, patronage, prosperity theology, and leadership all benefit from a closer look using Asian perspectives.
EV: Who’s your target audience, and what are you most hoping they hear from it?
JH&AR: The target audience is primarily thinking Christians and theological students in Asia, though interested readers of the OT anywhere will be able to follow the discussion. Our hope as co-editors is that readers will see how the OT can provide crucial help in overcoming the stigma that Christianity is a Western religion.
EV: Did you have any “aha” moments while writing the book?
JH&AR: Angukali and I did not realize how challenging it would be for our contributors to finish their writing during the pandemic. Everyone around the world was affected by Covid-19, of course, but several of our original contributors faced overwhelming difficulties (e.g., national disaster) that forced them to withdraw from the project.
EV: What was the most challenging part of the book to write?
JH&AR: Most of the contributors had never received guidance or permission to undertake work of this nature. Our own training in conventional OT scholarship actually runs counter to doing contextual theology, so there were relatively few conversation partners along the way.
EV: If your book was made into a movie, what actor/actress would play the lead role?
JH&AR: This question is not so easy to answer for an edited book, so we couldn’t figure out how to approach it.
EV: What kind of seminary/church classes should assign your book?
JH&AR: Any introductory course in the OT could benefit from readings on selected topics in the book. A useful example for American Christians could be to examine “Christian nationalism” in India as an interpretive mirror to this same topic and its challenges in the United States.
About Jerry Hwang and Angukali Rotokha
Jerry Hwang (PhD, Wheaton College) is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean of the School of Theology (English) at Singapore Bible College.
Angukali Rotokha (PhD, South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies) has taught the Old Testament for the past ten years at Oriental Theological Seminary, Dimapur, and South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bengaluru.