OBSA’s main goal is to foster Oceanic biblical scholarship. This requires a serious consideration of Oceania's many knowledge traditions, value systems, world-views, experiences, and issues that threaten their well-being of its islands and islanders (such as climate change, neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism, and migration, to name a few).
OBSA’s vision is to create a space for island scholars to share and exchange research and scholarship in biblical studies and interpretation, foster mutual support, intellectual growth, and professional development. In addition to this vision are the following. First, to facilitate a broad and open discussion from a variety of perspectives, particularly that of the minorities and the marginalized in Oceania. Second, to encourage study and interpretation of biblical literature and related literature using traditional and diverse methods and approaches in the varied Oceanic cultural and lingual contexts. Third, to collaborate with educational institutions and other appropriate organizations to support contextual biblical scholarship, interpretation and teaching. Fourth, to develop and publish resources for diverse audiences, including students, religious communities and the general public in both English and the vernacular languages. Fifth, and finally, to discuss and develop a viable biblical curriculum in the cultural setting of Oceania.
OBSA’s first meeting took place in Auckland in July 9-10, 2010, funded and co-hosted by the University of Auckland’s School of Theology, and Trinity Theological College of the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The main theme for this gathering was “Climate Change in Oceania: Biblical and Theological Responses.” Participants at this first meeting were mainly biblical scholars from New Zealand, Australia, Pacific Islands, and a few from seminaries in the United States. Prof Geoff Austin (Geophysicist, University of Auckland) and Prof Elaine Wainwright (also of the University of Auckland) were amongst the keynote speakers.
The second meeting took place in July 1-2, 2011 in Samoa, hosted by the staff and students of Malua Theological College. This meeting focused on the theme: “Empire, Migration, and Oceanic Biblical Interpretation.” The idea behind taking OBSA to Samoa is to make it available to people in the islands, and encourage more participation. About 90% of the participants at this meeting were Samoans. Those who joined the gathering from outside Samoa included Dr Monica Melanchthon (Secretary, SABS), Dr Jione Havea (Charles Sturt University), and Prof David Chalcraft (Sheffield).
The third meeting will be held in Tonga, 28-30 August 2012, at Sia’atoutai Theological College. The details for this one will be out soon.