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Black presence in the bible a review essay

Why Participate in African Biblical Interpretation? After my first visit to South Africa during July-August of 1996 to give a series of lectures over a six-week period, some colleagues asked me to publish some reflections on biblical interpretation in this region of the world.

I felt completely incompetent to do so. My fear did not cause me to go away without saying anything to anyone, like the women in Mark 16: I talked to many people with excitement about my experiences, but I was afraid to publish anything about them, because I felt that my information was so limited. Black presence in the bible a review essay attending the post-SNTS meeting in Hammanskraal in August, 1999, where twenty-seven people who reside, or were born and raised, somewhere on the continent of Africa presented papers or responses, I began to feel a little less fear about reflecting in print about biblical interpretation in Africa.

I hope you will bear with some personal details. My goal is twofold: I also was a Research Fellow there with my family, and when Dr. Pobee presented the results of his investigations of New Testament texts, and responded to the work of others, I experienced the energy and significantly different vantage point on biblical interpretation that came out of his context in Ghana, West Africa.

He considers himself to be a representative of a particular region of Ghana, the Akan, and he tries to speak carefully for West Africa.

I am, more particularly, a representative of an agriculturally based, rural region of the mid-western United States, where oral culture still dominates over elite, literary culture. Pobee, I soon became aware that there are eleven official languages in South Africa. When Douglas Lowery escorted me to the University of the Western Cape to lecture there, I became aware that South Africa certainly, and perhaps most other regions in Africa, face an incredible multiplicity of first, second, and third languages among teachers and students as they approach interpretation of the Bible.

But this is not the case at all. For must students and lay people, the language in which they first hear, and perhaps read, the Bible is a first, second, or third language in which a translation of the Bible is used in worship, in Sunday School, in weekly prayer meetings, and in Bible study.

Black presence in the bible a review essay

This translation introduces a language that is the medium for multiple meanings that teacher and student alike bring to interpretation of the Bible. Since I have worked vigorously for some years to bring multiplicity of various kinds into biblical interpretation, the presupposition of multiplicity in African biblical interpretation has made me feel a deep kinship with many people engaged in biblical interpretation in various regions of Africa.

To put this in perspective, I must tell you that I have been challenged while lecturing in Europe for my view of multiplicity both within biblical interpretation and within Christianity. I shall not name names, but I have been told by European New Testament scholars that my concept of the multiplicity of culture is simply an American aberration.

I should believe, I have been told, that civilized regions of the world are characterized by people who promote culture and people who do or do not participate in that culture.

To me, culture is a dynamic process of multiple kinds of cultures interacting with one another. As a beginning point, some of you know I have promoted a taxonomy of different kinds of cultures under the rubrics of dominant cultures; subcultures, some of which are ethnic subcultures; countercultures, contracultures, and liminal cultures.

In this context, Randall C. Bailey was exploring the Hebrew Bible from the perspective of African history, society, culture, and religion. Within a few years, Clarice J. Martin completed her interpretation of the interchange between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8: Africans are human beings.

  • Irrespective of their skin pigmentation, one which has been contested through the years, African persons are not only human;
  • It is the symbolism that transformed the unique historical event into an event of significances beyond itself;
  • London University Press, 1967;
  • Africa is our home not by choice, but by divine providence;
  • Free bible papers , essays, and the presence of a wise commentary on the book of matthew in the bible - book review;
  • Pobee, I soon became aware that there are eleven official languages in South Africa.

Africans seem unable to explain life without reference to what is religious and spiritual. An African person finds his or her being and its meaning in community. Africans perceive reality in holistic terms. Africans have often urged that the churches project an "African Christ.

In the midst of this attention to Africa, I became aware of apartheid interpretation and use of the Bible, especially through Johannes Bobby A. My wife and I recently visited him at the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he is spending six months of research leave from the University of Zululand. It was interesting to visit Bobby and talk about current issues of biblical interpretation in the same environment where I first met John Pobee twenty-six years ago.

Contextual Interpretation While Bobby Loubser has wrestled with the implications of the apartheid Bible in South Africa, John Pobee and many others have worked diligently to describe a reciprocal relation between culture and religion as the word of God "tabernacles" "in each particular culture, with no culture deemed normative for either mission or gospel.

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Teresa Okure and colleagues, focus on "inculturation readings. I began to hear contextual emphases many years ago in the writings, presentations, and Seminars of Bernard Lategan, and before his death, Willem Vorster. Since then, I have learned more of the shock to others who were energetically at work with him. Beginning with issues concerning texts and history, Bernard Lategan and Willem Vorster were working diligently to find their way from traditional Western modes of biblical interpretation through South African modes of interpretation to modes that function in the new international environment black presence in the bible a review essay interpretation.

Since Willem Vorster's death, Bernard Lategan has chaired a Seminar on Hermeneutics and the Biblical Text in the SNTS, and it has been beneficial for me to attend a number of the sessions and to make some presentations in them. It has been a great help for me to know that Bernard Lategan has understood and encouraged the pursuit of the social, cultural, ideological, and rhetorical approach I take to biblical interpretation.

In a similar vein, Johannes Vorster, commonly known as Vossie, and Jan Botha contacted me in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they were in the USA doing research and writing there. When I heard Vossie wrestling with theoretical and ideological dimensions of rhetorical interpretation and heard Jan Botha interpret Romans with deep insight into the argumentative strategies of Pauline discourse and with firsthand experience of the use of Romans by church and government leaders in South Africa, I saw the dynamics of society, culture, and ideology in substantive ways I had not seen before.

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Multiple Readings of Romans 13, gave me deep appreciation for the manner in which African scholars were working diligently to interweave traditional Western approaches to biblical interpretation with dynamically contextual interpretation in the regions in which they lived. At these and subsequent meetings sponsored by Pepperdine University, I experienced a wide range of approaches to both the Old and the New Testaments and met Pieter J.

Botha, Gerhard van den Heever, A.

  1. Are there any black people mentioned in the bible was bathsheba black was the queen of sheba black was simon of cyrene black.
  2. Such an affirmation begins not with the running away from the African self but with the coming to terms first and foremost with the African self and not with the other.
  3. Ycihweh in Africa which deals with such constructive criticism is concerned with excellence in African OT studies. In this respect, colleagues in Africa have a unique contribution to make.
  4. Unfortunately, despite numerous references to Africa and Africans in the Bible, most scholarly works exploring ancient Africa ignore biblical references. This comfort is seen to be the resurrection of the dead on the basis of the eschatological pillar of Pauline resurrection theology at the neglect of the symbolic pillar on which resurrection is a current reality that is lived out by faith, one which declares.

Jacobs, Hendrik Viviers, J. All of these interpreters, sometimes in an openly expressed manner and sometimes implicitly, were interpreting the Bible dynamically in a context other than Europe and the Americas. Here I first met Dr.

Adrianjatovo Rakotoharintsifa, who attended the sessions of this Seminar. Lategan and James W. Voelz, featured special papers focusing on contextual interpretation of the Bible. At the SNTS post-conference at Hammanskraal, twenty seven people from places throughout Africa either gave papers or gave official public responses.

According to the official report, thirty-three of us SNTS members were present, plus 29 guests from Africa. I met many additional African biblical interpreters at this Conference. One of my surprises at the SNTS post-conference was the manner in which most interpreters took seriously some aspect of what one might call European-American approaches to biblical interpretation.

At the same time, they were insistent that they must have the freedom to use insights from traditional modes of interpretation in ways they themselves deemed useful. The experience reminded me once again how human creativity regularly builds interactively on other human activity.

Especially in the field of biblical interpretation perhaps, no one starts completely anew. First, everyone begins with some kind of translation of the Bible.

Second, everyone begins with certain practices of interpretation with which they are familiar. Third, as a person reaches out for assistance in interpretation of the Bible, he or she finds layers and layers of books, journals, treatises, pamphlets, sermons, diaries, and other sorts of material that guide a person in one way or another.

As the papers and responses occurred, I saw interpreters intermingle traditional approaches with decisively African approaches in a wide variety of ways. In many ways, these meetings were a watershed. It was a shock to many traditional colleagues when openly articulate, vigorous non-European approaches to the New Testament were featured in the public SNTS program at the University of Pretoria.

Such papers have appeared in Seminars like the one Bernard Lategan and James Voelz chair, and on a rare occasion one might have appeared as a short paper among other short papers, but to have them featured publicly was something new for the society.

Black presence in the bible a review essay Betz, speaking as the President of the Society, spoke in the following manner: Critically reconstructing ancient texts, history and a community of scholars is an unfinished task.

Although scholars in Africa and elsewhere are working in different contexts, they are involved in a common process. Fresh insights into Biblical wisdom and faith are needed from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and elsewhere if scholarship is to grow and flourish. In this respect, colleagues in Africa have a unique contribution to make.

  • In our view, the preceding designation is indeed transformative;
  • Both informative and challenging to deep-seated prejudices, this book is must reading for anyone who desires a fair and accurate understanding of the important issues it addresses;
  • An exercise in wisdom or folly?
  • However, the task should not be simply that of solution seekers in an attempt to overcome the problematic legacy of the previous and present-day life-denying systems;
  • He also took the cup and handed it to them, and they all drank from it.

Although the SNTS has to remain true to its main task, namely to provide the opportunity of studying the New Testament in ways that are responsible and credible in a world in which Biblical studies must face a highly critical audience, the conference has demonstrated the need for and the possibilities of closer co-operation with colleagues in Africa. Betz resonated positively with Prof. It is also noticeable, second, that Prof.

  • Africa and the Bible will reward readers who value a scholarly approach to an often touchy topic;
  • This work will be enormously helpful as an introductory textbook on Afrocentric Biblical studies;
  • Musa Dube's postcolonial feminist biblical hermeneutic, Mosala's historical and cultural-materialist hermeneutics in black theology in South Africa, African women's theologies and African-American Womanist theologies;
  • The Christian Bible and Africana Women.

Betz found the range of textual and interpretive issues people addressed in their papers to be stimulating, and in some instances highly informative. One recognizes, third, the guarded and careful way in which he made his remarks. While indicating an openness to new approaches and insights, he emphasized "studying the New Testament in ways that are responsible and credible in a world in which Biblical studies must face a highly critical audience.

Betz means by "responsible and credible," and what he considers the "highly critical audience" to be may vary considerably from interpreter to interpreter. In other words, I think many will agree that one of the most conflicted issues at the beginning of the twenty-first century is the nature of "responsible and credible" biblical interpretation in the world in which we live today. In other words, not only history, society, and culture play a strong role in scholarly biblical interpretation, but also ideology.

At this point, we discover that all of us are ideological in one way or another. I suggest that a major task for twenty-first century biblical interpreters is to develop sophisticated systems for negotiating ideologies, rather than developing a dominant paradigm that can "hold ideologies at bay" like cape buffalo gather in a group, defending an outer boundary that will keep hyenas and other predators from penetrating into the middle of the herd.

  1. It was the beginning of new creation. Yes, there is something new under the sun of African Biblical Hermeneutics.
  2. In this process of reading together, there is a sharing of resources between the two interlocutors in order to bring about social transformation West 2011.
  3. The best historical record of jesus' life is found in the bible several good works have been done on the presence of black or african peoples in the bible.
  4. The Bible is also used for achieving success in live. Since then, I have learned more of the shock to others who were energetically at work with him.
  5. Third, African biblical hermeneutic s is faced with the task of reappraising the ancient biblical tradition and African worldview, culture, and life experience with the purpose of "correcting the effect of the cultural ideological conditioning to which Africa and Africans have been subjected" to in the business of biblical interpretation. A Biblical Approach to the Doctrine of the Trinity.

Much work remains to be done, but some of the work has begun, and we must continue this work as best as we can. An Example of Participation in African Biblical Interpretation For a specific example today of the benefit of participating in African biblical interpretation, I want to respond to and build on an essay that Professor Elna Mouton, now at the University of Stellenbosch, send to me over the internet on Monday, November 27, 2000.

When it reached me, its title was "A Rhetoric of Vision? She follows the guidelines of Andrew P. Reconciliation as Logos," I began to understand why I participate in African biblical interpretation.

Continually as I hear and read African biblical interpretation, I am challenged to reconfigure my understanding. Epstein, my colleague at Emory University in Atlanta who worked for many years in Russia with the works and thought of M.

The presence of black people in the bible essay

Mikhail Bakhtin, refers to this experience as "interference. Her concept of a "culture of shame" does not come from social anthropology of the ancient Mediterranean world, but from detailed analysis of culture in Africa, and, in particular, in South Africa. In the final part of her paper, Professor Mouton introduces multiplicity by talking about "reconciliation as logos," "biblical authority as liberating practice ethos ," and "lament and praise in liturgy as pathos.

As an interpreter with considerable interest in rhetoric, I observe with appreciation the multiplicity Professor Mouton brings into her analysis by focusing first on logos reasoning or speechsecond on ethos character and practiceand third on pathos emotion, attitude, and disposition.

And here my interpretive juices start flowing. Interfering with my line of thinking, she began, out of a context of African biblical interpretation, to challenge me to work programmatically with her line of thinking in a context of my own black presence in the bible a review essay of thinking.

Here is my line of thinking that met the thinking of Professor Mouton. I have become convinced that the Christians who brought forth the writings we read in the New Testament produced discourse that should be interpreted not only from the three aspects of logos, ethos, and pathos and the three modes of judicial, deliberative, and epideictic discourse, but that we must identify the multiple modes or "rhetorolects" of early Christian discourse as: In the mode of wisdom discourse, the epistle of James works toward reconciliation using kinship relations in a household for the undergirding topoi.