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a priori: Xiaoli Yang’s Work on Chinese Christianity

In the a priori series we put three questions to scholars undertaking important research in biblical studies, theology, ethics, and more. We seek out the authors whose work may be poised for future renown in this early stage in their career, whose mission is the church, whose vocation is research. This week we hear from Xiaoli Yang and her work on Intercultural Theology, meshing the poetry of Haizi and the Gospel of Luke.


Who are you, where did you study, and what work have you published so far?

My name is Xiaoli Yang, and I am a research scholar in Australia after completing my PhD in Intercultural Theology at the University of Divinity (2016) and MDiv at the Australian College of Theology. As a bicultural and bilingual person, I have been travelling extensively and serving both locally and overseas as a pastor and lecturer.  I am also an ordained minister, an accredited spiritual director and a bilingual poet, currently serving on a couple of executive committees of Mission Studies.  My research interests include Intercultural Theology; Asian Christianity; Poetry-Theology Dialogue; Ethno-hermeneutics; and Cross-cultural Spiritual Direction.

I have published monographs, book chapters, peer-reviewed articles, encyclopedia entries, and poetry widely—including a book based on my doctoral research: A Dialogue between Haizi’s Poetry and the Gospel of Luke—Chinese Homecoming and the Relationship with Jesus Christ (Brill, 2018).  It offers a conversation between the Chinese soul-searching found in Haizi’s (1964–1989) poetry and the gospel of Jesus Christ through Luke’s testimony.

Book chapters include: “Titus” in An Asian Introduction to the New Testament (Fortress, 2020); “The Beauty of Poetry – Discerning the Images of Christ in Chinese Tradition” in Beauty and Tradition (St Pauls, 2020); “’Let the Wind Blow’- Spiritual Direction as a Way of Witnessing the Movement of the Spirit in Asia” in Spiritual Direction Down Under: Plumbing New Depths in Spiritual Awareness (Wellspring, 2020); “A Practical Theologian” in Voices of the Spirit: A Primer to Contemporary Pentecostal Theology (Wipf and Stock, 2020); “A ‘Steam Boat’ Theology of Home—Reading the Gospel of Luke with Chinese Eyes” in Reimagining Home (Morling, 2019); “Poetry as Theology—a Creative Path” & “Verse by Verse: The Use of Poetry in Advanced Theological Education” in Challenging Tradition: Innovation in Advanced Theological Education (Langham, 2018). I have also had articles published in Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Mission Studies, International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church, Australian Journal of Mission Studies.

2. What research/writing project are you currently working on that you are most excited about? Have you presented papers related to this topic, and can you give us a little taster from your writing?

I am currently writing a bible commentary on 1, 2, 3 John from Asian perspectives and a chapter on “Creation and Tian” in the T&T Clark Companion to the Doctrine of Creation (T&T Clark, 2021).  I am really excited about starting my next monograph on the reading of the Scripture from a Chinese migrant’s poetic lens. To give you a taster from my writing, here is the last paragraph of my published book (332 pages) on “Chinese homecoming”:

“The homecoming journey therefore culminates in the final encounter with the Cross. Seen in a cosmic and divine perspective, the crucified and risen Christ becomes the radiant light perpetually shining in the darkness. The homecoming call does not bypass the Cross, but rests our gaze upon the crucified Christ, for in him risen life has been ensured. In response, Haizi and his generation would then see the Cross in a new light. It would no longer be a symbol of suffering and death only, but the radiant glory of their Maker who was, is and is to come. Then their hearts would find peace in God and therefore be searching no more. In the midst of their struggles, Chinese people could live and die, love and hope, create and sing here and now to the full extent, for they would know that the resurrection was and is their true homecoming.”

3. Which readers is the final product intended for, and when do you anticipate we might see the fruit of your research in published form? 

My first book published by Brill is an academic monograph, but also suitable for general readers who are interested in Chinese Christianity, and anyone concerned with contemporary Chinese culture, and creative intercultural conversations between the gospel and Chinese culture. My current writings are suitable for both academic and general readers who are interested in the interaction between the Scripture with contemporary issues of migration, spirituality and cultures. The bible commentary and the book chapter will be completed this year and I anticipate my second book to be completed in 2021 and become available in 2022.


Promote your research. Send an email to tavis.bohlinger@faithlife.com answering the three questions above. Contributions are published in the order they are received. We look forward to highlighting your work!

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Written by
Tavis Bohlinger

Dr. Tavis Bohlinger is the editor of Word by Word's Lecture Hall and Creative Director at Reformation Heritage Books. He holds a PhD from Durham University and writes across multiple genres, including academia, poetry, and screenwriting. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children.

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Written by Tavis Bohlinger