Simon the Tanner, Empires, and Assemblages: A New Materialist Asian American Reading of Acts 9:43
Dong Hyeon Jeong
This article participates in dismantling systemic racial discourse in racialized and/or minoritized biblical interpretation by challenging the anthropocentric tendencies found in such interpretation. It does so by re-reading Acts 9:43 and 10:5-6, 32—Simon Peter’s stay at Simon the tanner’s place—as more than just a preamble or backdrop to the Cornelius narrative (Acts 10:1-48). Rather, the encounter between the two Simons, if read closely, invites an imaginative, imperial, and (fashionably) philosophical reading, wherein Simon Peter’s stay evokes the Roman Empire’s usurpation of an industry. This usurpation, though, is not simply a colonial endeavour. The proximity of nonhuman skins (from the tanning industry) to the colonized skins of Peter’s community invites a new materialist interpretation, in which the “touching” of these two skins provokes a “perverse ontology,” or an assemblage, of emerging human and nonhuman bodies. This assemblage blurs the boundaries of human-nonhuman binarization, an emergence that transgresses the affect of animalization which is experienced by both nonhumans and minoritized bodies.
Asian American Biblical Interpretation, assemblage, Daniëlle Bruggeman, new materialism; nonhuman studies.