Leticia Guardiola-Sáenz finds new ways to make Christian Scriptures relevant to contemporary audiences. The author of nearly 50 publications, papers and lectures is a co-editor of The Peoples’ Companion to the Bible and The Peoples’ Bible: New Revised Standard Version, both published by Fortress Press.
A Seattle University faculty member since 2008, Guardiola-Sáenz says the Bible, while a sacred text, is not itself purely divine. She takes a less traditional approach and brings a broader cultural and ideological lens to her interpretations of the Bible. To do so means she gives careful consideration to historical events at the time scripture was written. And she takes into account the context of the reader—what current world and local events might influence a person’s take on the scripture. She also says scripture can’t be read as stories detached from someone’s personal experience.
Gender studies and how men's and women’s roles are presented in scripture are among her interests. For example, when the early church moved from the home to the public arena there was much more control of women. That cultural change also affected the role of women within the church and how they are represented in later writings of Christian Scriptures.
Guardiola-Sáenz’s work also brings a modern-day cultural and regional interpretation to a reading of the Gospel, aimed, at least in part, at inspiring minoritized readers from the Mexican-American borderlands to become change agents for greater interdependence between the United States and Mexico. Her paper, “Border-crossing and its Redemptive Power in John 7.53–8.11: A Cultural Reading of Jesus and the Accused,” describes how Jesus in the Gospel of John is constantly crossing geographic, cultural and religious borders and the implications this has for readers who have boundary questions in their own lives. The paper is part of the book, John and Postcolonialism: Travel, Space and Power.
A practicing Baptist at a Jesuit, Catholic university where 12 different religious communities are represented on the SU School of Theology and Ministry faculty, Guardiola-Sáenz seeks to pursue interfaith dialogue and to read sacred scriptures from other religions, both to understand them better and to bring more light to Christian theology.