Well known for its vibrant blend of cultures and ethnic groups, its beaches, its cuisine and its soccer, Brazil is not often associated with biblical backgrounds. What, some ask, does Brazil have to do with the Bible? Strictly speaking, it is not usually considered one of the “lands of the Bible.” Jesus didn’t walk there. Neither did Paul. No apostolic letters were written to churches in Brazil. There is no biblical archaeology and no biblical geography.
Still, the Bible has everything to do with Brazil and Brazil has everything to do with the Bible. When Western, Christian colonization started in Brazil, as in all other loci of Western colonization, the Bible was the number one source of appeal to legitimize the colonial enterprise, which included both slavery and genocide. Moreover, liberation theology was first articulated in Brazil. Liberation theology is an alternative interpretation of the Bible that sees the Bible and the biblical faith as a source to combat colonization and the injustices that accompany it. We at The Society for Biblical Studies consider the appeal to the Bible to validate slavery, genocide and ethnic cleansing to be morally offensive. Each of our journeys there will examine themes such as the Bible and colonialism, the Bible and social responsibility and biblical perspectives on wealth and poverty.
We invite you to travel to Brazil with us, because in addition to enjoying the mountains and beaches of Rio de Janeiro, experiencing the energy of its culture, its fun-loving atmosphere and its rich cuisine, we also explore the ways in which the Bible and the Church were complicit in the colonial enterprise and how the Bible came to be seen as a document that authorizes slavery and genocide. Even more importantly, we examine the development of liberation theology in Brazil. We explore the cultural diversity and religious pluralism that characterize Brazil and learn lessons to apply in our own contexts.