Chapter 2 of Troublesome Texts is on ‘Subjecting the Johannine Letters to Postcolonial Criticism’, concluding that the letters have a dogmatic, imperialistic tone demanding compliance, but that the new message being promulgated owes some informal debt to Buddhism. To ‘walk in the truth’ and ‘walk in love’ is likened to the Buddhism requirement to ‘walk by dhamma’, a praxis-centred practical religion by which ‘everyone who does justice is born again’ and ‘everyone who loves is born of God’ (3 Jn 4, 2 Jn 4-6, I Jn 2.29, 1 Jn 4.7). For the writer, actions not words indicate a person’s faith, salvation by works contrasting with Paul’s salvation by faith and God’s grace. Unfortunately, this worthy ideal is presented as a demand to be obeyed and not an aspiration to be taken to heart.
[Chapter 3, coming soon, is on the Sermon on the Mount and the struggle for independence in India].