George Soares-Prabhu

Indian Jesuit priest (1929–1995)

George M. Soares-Prabhu (1929-11-17 - 1995-07-22) is a well-known Biblical scholar, exegete, liberation theologian and Jesuit priest from India. Four volumes of the collected works of Prof George Soares-Prabhu have been published and the quotes are from these volumes.


  • “When the revelation of God’s love (the Kingdom) meets its appropriate response in man’s acceptance of this love (repentance), there begins a mighty movement of personal and societal liberation which sweeps through human history. The movement brings freedom inasmuch it liberates each individual from the inadequacies and obsessions that shackle him. It fosters fellowship, because it empowers free individuals to exercise their concern for each other in genuine community. And it leads on to justice, because it impels every true community to adopt just societal structures which alone make freedom and fellowship possible. Freedom, fellowship and justice are thus the parameters of the Kingdom’s thrust towards the liberation of man.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “The Kingdom of God,” CWG 4, 238-239.)
  • “Jesus opted for a radicalism which sought to realize as perfectly as possible, the spirit of the Law, which he saw embodied in love (agape), that is in interhuman concern.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “The Dharma of Jesus,” CWG 3, 7.)
  • “The Eucharist has always carried the memory of Jesus’ meals with tax collectors and sinners.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “The Table Fellowship of Jesus,” CWG 1, 235.)
  • “An Indian reading of the Bible is a reading from an Indian point of view: a reading guided by a sensibility shaped by Indian culture, and provoked by questions emerging from the Indian situation.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Commitment and Conversion: A Biblical Hermeneutic for India Today,” CWG 4, 34.)
  • “It is along the lines of such a hermeneutical conversation between text and reader, where each is open to and respects the claims of the other, that an Indian reading of the Bible is to be attempted. An Indian Christian reading will be a reading of the Bible by an interpreter sensitive to the Indian situation and true to the biblical text. It will be, that is, a true-to-the-text reading made with an Indian pre-understanding and responsive to Indian concerns.” **(Soares-Prabhu, “Interpreting the Bible in India Today,” CWG 4, 28)
  • “Indeed commitment to the poor is demanded of the Indian exegete, not only by his Third World situation of overwhelming poverty which is the true context of his interpretation (however much he may try to isolate himself from it), but also by the thrust of the Bible itself. For the Bible, in spite of all the efforts of Western exegesis to domesticate of remains a revolutionary text proclaiming ‘good news to the poor’”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Commitment and Conversion: A Biblical Hermeneutic for India Today,” CWG 4, 35.)
  • “The radical commitment to the poor which is the starting point of any genuine Indian hermeneutic in India must be made within the distinctive under¬standing of humankind and its world, which constitutes the Indian world-view, and gives particular shape and colour to its Third Worldness. An Indian hermeneutic will respect the specific sensibility shaped by the Indian world-view - or, more accurately perhaps, world-views.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Commitment and Conversion: A Biblical Hermeneutic for India Today,” CWG 4, 35.)
  • “In the universe of Indian exegesis there is room for a wide variety of methods - historical criticism to determine the origin and the transmission of a text, literary criticism to analyse its literary and linguistic structures, canonical criticism to find out what function the text had in successive believing communities. But all these must be completed, if the interpretation is not to remain barren, with a hermeneutical reading which will determine the significance of the text for the reader here and how, by engaging text and reader in a critical conversation, that respects not only the meaning trajectory of the text but the new Indian context in which the text is now read.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Interpreting the Bible in India Today,” CWG 4, 6.)
  • “A growing awareness of the massive social evils that plague our land (in which eighty percent of the people are below, on, or just above the poverty line, and fully seventy percent are totally illiterate; where just ten percent of the rural rich own more than sixty percent of all the cultivable land, and ninety percent of private-owned industry is producing consumer goods for less than fifteen percent of the population) is having its impact on Indian theology - particularly among Indian theologians who have been exposed to a social analysis which points, correctly, to institutional structures rather than personal ill will as the source of social ills.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Towards an Indian Interpretation of the Bible,” CWG 1, 217.)
  • “Jesus appears in the Gospels as non-clerical, even as a somewhat anti-clerical figure. He is not a priest, for he does not belong to a priestly family; and he is shown in continuing conflict with the priestly establishment which ultimately arranges for his death.”
    • (Soares-Prahu, “Christian Priesthood in India Today,” CWG 2, 222.)
  • “For a change of structures without change of hearts will lead to new forms of oppression; while a change of hearts without change of structures will leave the present crushing form or oppression intact. Attitudinal and structural change are both necessary, because ultimately attitudes and structures are dialectically related.”
    • (Soares-Prahu, “Jesus and the Poor,” CWG 4, 192-93.)
  • “Poverty in India is not just an economic category, it is a religious value as well. Caste, even in its most degrading form of untouchability, is legitimized by India’s dominant religion and tolerated by others, Christianity included!” (Soares-Prabhu, “Interpreting the Bible in India Today,” CWG 4, 6.)
  • “The poverty of most Asian countries, and the alarming extremes of social and economic inequality to be found in them, derive from and are maintained by their stagnant social and religious institutions (like the caste-system in India), which as popularly understood and practised, are often “a tremendous force of social inertia”. But it would be unfair and unrealistic to stop here. For Asia’s underdevelopment is at least equally the result of induced socioeconomic processes.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Inculturation - Liberation – Dialogue,” CWG 1, 55.)
  • “Jesus (1) identifies himself with the poor, in order (2) to show them an active and effective concern. Such a concern looks to (3) the ending of their “social” poverty, while calling for (4) a “spiritual” poverty that will set them and their rich exploiters free from “mammon”, the compulsive urge to possess. Together, these four elements spell out the “compassion” of Jesus (Mt 9:36; Mk 6:34; 8:2) — that active, caring and passionate love which defines so sharply his life-style and sets a pattern for the life style of his followers.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Jesus and the Poor,” CWG 4, 176).
  • “The Christian response cannot be that of a spectator, exhorting from the side lines. It must be the response of the committed participant, involved in the struggle for justice and identified with his struggling brothers and sisters - even as God is involved in his history, and as Jesus has identified himself with humankind. An incarnational response will thus always be an active and an involved response.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, ‘The Christian Response to the Indian Situation,” CWG 4, 204.)
  • “In places like India Jesus brings something radically new. A new experience of God, which allows him to rename Yhwh as ABBA. God is experienced not so much as 'holy' but as gracious and compassionate; and people are not just members of an exclusive tribe or a separated 'clean' caste, but as members of an open family, marked by freedom from consumerism and an attitude of radical service.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Antigreed, and Antipride- Mark 10:17-27 and 10:35-45 in the Light of Tribal Values,” CWG 1, 246).
  • “Jesus did not come to rescue a few individuals from a condemned mass; but to open up a new future for man, thematized by him as the New Israel, this is as a universal community of love, leavened by the values of freedom fellowship, and justice. Such a community is possible only when the oppressive structures that hinder its growth are overthrown. His miracles are complemented by his controversies in which he stands up against the established structures of institutional oppression: the law, the cult, priesthood, and the Temple.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, The Miracles: Subversion of A Power Structure?” CWG 3, 30.)
  • “Liberation is an experience of unconditioned freedom resulting from an experiential realization of the radical relativity of the empirical world, a state of absolute freedom from psychological and sociological bondage, which finds its concrete, institutionalized expression in the Buddhist monk (bhikku) or the Hindu wandering ascetic. Liberation for the Asian psyche is liberation which leads to that poverty which is freedom from illusion, attachment and greed.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Inculturation, Liberation, Dialogue,” CWG 1, 55.)
  • “What makes a person a Christian is not professing certain beliefs, nor practising particular rituals, nor undergoing an initiation rite, nor belonging to a recognizable social group, nor even confessing the name Jesus, though these are inevitable stages in the evolution of a religious tradition. To be disciple of Jesus means to experience God the way that Jesus experienced God.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Dharma of Jesus,” CWG 3, 4.)
  • “The world of today is full of refugees. We live among thousands of “guest-workers” driven by need to work as unwanted aliens in the affluent Egypts of the Western world. We hear of tens of thousands of political refugees hunted out of their homes, to sit hopeless and forgotten, by the rivers of dingy Babylons in the vast refugee camps of Palestine or Cambodia. We know of the many million victims of caste or race discrimination, who suffer as harassed aliens in their own land, living a constantly threatened life in the “harijan” (ex-untouchables) quarters of half a million villages in India, or the segregated black townships of South African cities. We rub shoulders with hundreds of millions of the desperately poor, denied access to the “land”, eking out a precarious existence on the margins of their society in the endlessly sprawling shanty towns of the Third Word or the squalid “inner cities” of the West. For all of them, and for us living among them, the story of Jesus in Egypt read in this way may cease to be just another Christmas story and become a Christmas gospel of challenge and of hope.”
    • (Soares-Prabhu, “Jesus in Egypt: A Reflection on Mt 2:13-15.19-21 in the Light of the Old Testament,” Estudios Biblicos 50 (1992) 249.)
    • The four Collected Works are as follows:
  • CWG 1: Soares-Prabhu, George M. (1999). Biblical Themes for a Contextual Theology Today, Collected Writings of George M. Soares-Prabhu, S.J., Vol.1.Padinjarekuttu, Isaac (ed.) Pune: Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth Theology Series.
  • CWG 2: Soares-Prabhu, George M. (1999). Biblical Theology for India, Collected Writings of George M. Soares-Prabhu, S.J., Vol.2,Kuthirakkattel, Scaria (ed.), Pune: Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth Theology Series.
  • CWG 3: Soares-Prabhu, George M. (2003). Biblical Spirituality of Liberative Action, Collected Writings of George M. Soares-Prabhu, S.J., Vol.3. Kuthirakkattel, Scaria. (ed.), Pune: Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth Theology Series.
  • CWG 4: Soares-Prabhu, George M. (2001). Theology of Liberation: An Indian Biblical Perspective, Collected Writings of George M. Soares-Prabhu, S.J., *Vol.4. D’Sa, Francis X. (ed.). Pune. Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth Theology Series.

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