Fortress Press

Insights from Reading the Bible with the Poor

Insights from Reading the Bible with the Poor

Crystal L. Hall (Author)


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Insights from Reading the Bible with the Poor provides a spirited introduction to methodologies and strategies for reading the Bible “from below”—from the back of what used to be church sanctuaries, from basements, from sidewalks. Drawing on the lineage of various methods of reading the Bible with the poor, the book invites poverty and biblical study into dialogue with real-world organizing to seek justice for those most often treated as “Other.”  The reading process occurs among the intersections of the “hermeneutical triangle” of Reality, the Bible, and Community.

This book is for anyone curious about how to use the Bible as a resource for liberation. It is for faith leaders and community organizers, as much as it is for biblical scholars, because it draws on experiences at the intersections of academia, the Church and communities of organized struggle. It is written with an eye toward praxis, as the author shares from my own experience with the hope that space will be created for others to reflect on their own contexts.

Chapter One outlines a number of ideological considerations for reading the Bible with the poor in the US. It begins with the theoretical basis for ideologies of oppression related to race, gender, and class. Chapters Two and Three provide concrete examples of reading the Bible with the poor: the story of Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:1–16) and the tomb in Mark (Mark 16:1–8). Reflecting on the processes described in the previous two chapters, Chapter Four focuses specifically on facilitation. It first addresses methodological principles for facilitation a methodology of reading the Bible with the poor and then addresses concrete practices of facilitation. The chapter concludes by addressing pitfalls and challenges to facilitation that have evolved out of the experiences described in the previous chapters.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506402789
  • eBook ISBN 9781506402796
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 160
  • Publication Date October 1, 2019


A highly important book.

“This highly important book moves beyond addressing the Bible’s potential for transformative social justice; it offers a tested roadmap. Through detailing how marginalized peoples and biblical scholars are effectively working together to confront injustice in their communities, Hall takes engaged biblical scholarship to where it needs to be—the streets.”

Matthew J. M. Coomber | St. Ambrose University

This is liberative praxis.

“This is no armchair academic speculation. Crystal L. Hall draws from her lived experience of being embedded with the poor in their struggle against the devastating and demeaning impact of local capitalist enterprises. She has learned firsthand how to listen to the voices of the poor in order to know how to facilitate the reading of biblical texts to evoke insights into particular people’s struggles for justice and to insist on their rights and humanity. Scholars and teachers have much to learn from her direct engagement and informed insightful critical reflection. This is liberative praxis.”

Richard A. Horsley, author of Jesus and Empire and Covenant Economics

A refreshing way of doing theology.

“This sparkling text helps us reflect on and challenge unjust structures of our society. A refreshing way of doing theology and academic work. I read Hall’s work and got energy and new insights on how important is to do intentional hermeneutics toward transformation.”

Paulo Ueti | Latin American Bible scholar

Democratizing pedagogy at its best.

“Perfect for congregations, classrooms, and community settings, Insights will guide and inspire. Hall provides a plainspoken orientation to critical frameworks that shape our understanding of who can interpret the Bible and how. Her vivid narration of history, setting, and facilitation choices for ‘reading with’ is democratizing pedagogy at its best.” 

Noelle Damico | National Economic and Social Rights Initiative