In Borderline Exegesis, Leif Vaage presents an alternative approach to biblical interpretation, or exegesis—an approach that bends the boundaries of the traditional North American methodology to analyze the meaning of biblical texts for a wider audience. To accomplish this, Vaage engages in a practice he calls “borderline exegesis.” Adapting anthropological notions of borderlands, borderline exegesis writes biblical scholarship peripherally, unearthing the Bible’s textual and discursive borderlands and allowing biblical texts to be at play with the utopian imagination.
The book’s main chapters comprise four case studies that engage in a “divergent reading” of the book of Job, the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistle of James, and the book of Revelation. Informed by the author’s time in war-torn Peru, these chapters take on themes that the poor and disenfranchised have historically claimed—themes of social justice, the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of prevailing social practices, and, most importantly, utopian demand for another possible world. The chapters are held together by the presentation of a greater theoretical framework that provides reflection on the exegetical practices within and confronts biblical scholars with important questions about the aims of the work they do. Taken as a whole, Borderline Exegesis seeks to disclose what the professional practice of textual interpretation might become if we refuse the conventional distances between academic practice and lived experience.