Scholar-Activist Encounter: Pentecost and Multilingual Community Organizing

Scholar-Activist Encounters

May 16, 2024, 7:30pm Eastern Time

How do activism and scholarship contribute to our understanding of Scripture in the world today?

What can the Pentecost Story in Acts 2, as well as other biblical references to “speaking in tongues,” tell us about the experience of living and building people power in multilingual societies? In this session, Indonesian-American New Testament scholar Ekaputra Tupamahu presents his “heteroglossic-immigrant” mode of reading these texts, and unpacks its implications for understanding biblical times, as well as our own contexts. Nelcy García De León, an immigrant rights activist and organizer, offers a response.

Dr. Tupamahu’s teaching drew from the perspectives put forth in his book, Contesting Languages: Heteroglossia and the Politics of Language in the Early Church, published by Oxford University Press in 2022. To learn more, visit

This Scholar-Activist Encounter was held in solidarity with Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month, and was co-hosted by Gale Yee and Amy Dalton.

Ekaputra Tupamahu is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Director of Master’s programs at Portland Seminary and George Fox University. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2019. He has previously served as pastor of an Indonesian congregation in Redlands, California. His research interests include the politics of language, immigration studies, and global Christianity (particularly Pentecostal/Charismatic movements). In addition to his monograph, his writing has appeared in The Bible and Critical Theory, the Indonesian Journal of Theology, the Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Asian Introduction to the New Testament, and others. Tupamahu serves as a member of the steering committee of the Book of Acts, Paul and Politics and the Asian and Asian American Hermeneutics program units at the Society of Biblical Literature’s annual meeting. He also serves on SBL’s Committee on Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession (CUREMP).

Nelcy García De León is the Board Chair of Proyecto Faro, a Rockland County-based immigrant rights organization, and Director of Constituent Services at the NYS Assembly. A trained social worker with broad professional experience, Nelcy uses her people skills to organize peaceful protests, community meetings and courageous conversations between community members and elected officials toward building justice and power for immigrants, LGBTQ+ folks, Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), people with disabilities, and all marginalized communities.

The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice invites you to join us for an interactive dialogue exploring the interfaces between scholarship and activism. How do these ways of being contribute to our understanding of Scripture in the world today? Let’s come together to learn from each other. Most events take place on the third Thursday of the month at 4:30pm Pacific Time / 7:30pm Eastern Time. We do not meet every month, and occasionally meet on a different night.

See the full schedule of the Scholar-Activist Encounter series. For questions, email