Written by Miguel A. De La Torre | Reviewed by Barbara McCall
“To encounter God is never what one expects.”
And you may be surprised by this Bible commentary. It approaches the old, familiar Genesis stories from a new perspective. Dr. De La Torre brings expertise as a proponent of Liberation Theology, an ethicist and a Bible scholar.
The Liberation Theology movement grew in Latin America as a response to the poverty and ill-treatment of ordinary people. Writing as a Liberationist, De La Torre examines Genesis through the perspective of those characters who are oppressed or who live on the margins of their society. We are invited to encounter God through their lives. Therefore, we see Hagar the slave, who gave God the name El Roi and to whom God made a promise of descendants too numerous to count. But she is also a woman exploited by the sexual and social mores of her day. De La Torre explores the status of Adam and Eve as the “first refugees” as they are expelled from their home, Eden. He relates the circumstances of Genesis characters to situations people face in our current society. “Injustice, oppression, migration, sexual abuse, disenfranchisement and powerlessness continue to be key issues for Christian faith and life today.”
Genesis: A Theological Commentary is written for a wide audience. There is something for every reader. De La Torre provides ample material for Bible Study. In addition to his interpretation of the Genesis stories, his book is interspersed with information gleaned from current historical and literary analysis of the Old Testament. This is also a commentary to read slowly and to ponder. Genesis is best read with an open Bible at hand. I use an NRSV study Bible. I find that it helps to be familiar with the text as De La Torre’s exposition brings out details previously overlooked. He challenges long-held interpretations of well-known Bible stories. However you choose to use this book, it is important to read the Introduction. This is where De La Torre explains the basic perspectives from which this commentary is born.
I am new to the Liberation Theology school of thought. De La Torre is the first Liberationist that I have read in any depth. I am impressed with this commentary. I was reassured to learn that De La Torre is not a proponent of reading the Book of Genesis as history! I think it is important to note that the publisher is associated with the Presbyterian Church. The historical and literary information presented is consistent with the two Old Testament classes that I have audited at UW Madison. I usually read one section at a time, Bible in hand. Of course, I’ve made marginal comments throughout! Yes, I have read the Introduction several times! I recommend this commentary.
About the Author: Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre is an energetic, 62 year-old, bow tie wearing professor and author. A refugee from Cuba, he was raised in the Catholic Church and later trained as a Baptist minister at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He obtained his doctorate in Social Ethics from Temple University. He is now a Professor at The Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. His website is www.drmigueldelatorre.com. His other books are available on Amazon. He also has a blog. These resources are worth investigating.