Volume 13 of BiAS series brings out into prominence issues at the bottom of dialogue between African and Christian attitudes to nature. The Shona notion of hierarchy of sacredness of nature as opposed to the intrinsic value of nature forms a barrier to a possible reconciliation between Shona and Christian attitudes to nature. This is largely based on the belief that some aspects of nature in Shona are imbued with spirits. Although sacred aspects may be accidentally protected, there is a weakness in the discriminative attitudes that leaves other aspects vulnerable. It appears the Shona have yet to extricate themselves from an ethic based on fear of ancestral spirits to conscious assessment of scientific causes of ecological imbalances. Shona attitudes to nature fail to take account of the denial of the sacredness of some aspects of nature. The Christian attitudes to nature on the other hand, propound the doctrine of the equal worth and equal integrity of all aspects of nature, rather than a discriminative sacredness of nature. The attitudes are, however, based on the assumption that nature is purely material. This position results into divergent attitudes to nature. Attitudes to nature presented from a Christian perspective appear reluctant to identify divinity with natural phenomena. Christianity suggests the idea of creation value to bridge this gap. To this end, the creation value to which Christian attitudes tend to lend support, might well act as common denominator between Shona and Christian attitudes to nature particularly in the light of eco-spirituality and move towards African-Christian environmental ethics.
BiAS 12 examines the phenomenon of prophets and prophecy in contemporary Zimbabwe. By applying insights from biblical studies and other approaches, the volume sheds light on how this contentious phenomenon has been discussed in the Zimbabwean context. The different chapters highlight the role of the Bible, gender, media, literature and other perspectives have influenced attitudes towards prophets and prophecy in Zimbabwe. While the phenomenon has been principally associated with the new wave of Pentecostalism, it remains critical to appreciate pre-existing attitudes towards prophets from African Initiated Churches (AICs), as well as traditional healers in African Indigenous Religions (AIRs). Contributors to this volume have explored the complexities that characterize prophets and prophecy. The volume is of interest to scholars in biblical studies, theology, religious studies, political science, anthropology, philosophy and other disciplines. General readers, church leaders and civil society activists will also find the chapters in this volume valuable.
Taking the word ḤSD in the Book of Ruth as an example, this study argues that the meaning of a word can only be fully determined by taking into consideration the linguistic and socio-cultural contexts within which it functions. A basic assumption is that the biblical source text serves as a frame of reference for the semantic analysis of a particular word. The text provides an integrative semantic and pragmatic framework within which a biblical term must be investigated with reference to its wider socio-cultural setting.
This book was passed as a PhD thesis at Bayreuth University, Germany. The author challenges African Biblical scholars and Christian leaders to premise Biblical interpretation on the experiences of the often neglected underclasses. The author argues that from a comparative historical, cultural and material methodological point of view, the experiences of the Zimbabwean underclasses whose collective ordeal is represented by the experiences of domestic workers are strikingly similar to those suffered by slaves among other underclasses in the biblical world. In the same way religion was appropriated by the elite to validate oppression of the underclasses in the biblical world, the author shows that since the colonial era, Christianity in Africa, through biblical interpretation among many other tactics has been an influential force on the side of the dominant class to advance their racial, class and gender interests. To date, in Zimbabwe for example, the Bible (and religion in general) is manipulated by the dominant minority to justify and entrench the exploitation of the majority underclasses. On the other hand, the author observes that the history of ancient Israel, Roman colonial Palestine and colonial Zimbabwe evidences that when religion is appropriated (and/or the Bible is read and interpreted) from the historical cultural and material conditions of the underclasses, it can be a valuable resource not only for their mobilization to overthrow oppressive systems but also for justifying their resistance tactics. Aluta Continua!!(The Struggle goes on!!)
This volume was passed as doctoral thesis by the University of South Africa (UNISA). The author contends throughout the book that it is arguably clear that the AIDS epidemic has infected and affected our world in radical ways. Although every sector, including Biblical Studies, has come to its ‘senses’, by realising the urgency to respond; there still appears to be inadequate contextual engagement with the biblical text to stimulate empowering and transformative readings of the Bible.
The author presents his interpretative case aimed to contribute to scholarship by determining the extent to which the church, the academy and Persons with HIV have adhered to stigmatising interpretations. He uses reader response method theoretical framework as applied within the context of African theology because it is socially located.
Unlike many books, this one emerges from empirical findings. The data was collected through focus groups and personal interviews. The purposive sampling included 70 participants, who were divided into three key categories: academic theologians, university students and persons with HIV. All participants in the study re-read 2 Samuel 13:1-14:33 in order to ascertain if the characters therein could be relevant to the context of AIDS.
Towards the end, the author sums up his case by endorsing that, characters from 2 Samuel 13:1-14:33 can provide an empowering message in the context of AIDS. Although this biblical text has often been misused to promote stigma, this study confirmed that it was nonetheless possible to use the same text to unearth redemptive and empowering interpretations. Therefore the book recommends that the move towards an HIV/AIDS Biblical Hermeneutics invites socially engaged scholars along with ordinary readers to read the text together for transformative purposes.
This volume was passed as doctoral thesis by the University of Bayreuth (Germany) in February 2012. The author presents a new way of looking at leadership, history, culture and the reading of scripture in light of theme of The Messianic Feeding of the Masses. The author examines how the Zimbabwean president has embraced some messianic titles and statements ascribed to him for liberating Zimbabwe from her colonial masters and the feeding of the people. The book makes a comparative and sociological analysis of kingship in ancient traditions so as to demonstrate how the ‘sacredness’ associated and ascribed to the reign of Mugabe was not uncommon. As the bearer of the charisma, Mugabe takes some radical measures to assume the task of a saviour. He embraces the praises accorded to him by his admirers and commands obedience and a following in virtue of his mission. Some aspects examined in this study may be highly controversial but eye-opening. The author does not attempt to convert anyone to a particular side but through the way he articulates issues and supports arguments with Historical, Biblical and current material, he invites people to debate even in a larger arena.
This volume is based on the International Bible Symposium “The Bible and Politics in Africa” which was held in summer 2010 in Kloster Banz (Germany). The IBS 2010 was organised by Prof. Kügler’s team at the Chair for New Testament Studies at Bamberg University and was generously funded and hosted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Munich/ Kloster Banz. Some of the articles published here are based on papers presented at IBS 2010. The editors, however, added some articles to broaden the discussion and to also give a voice to those who could not be present at the symposium. The topic of Biblical influence on politics and of political uses of the Bible is of course not merely an African topic. Christian tradition has always stressed that it not only wants to show ways to heaven but also to reconstruct this world according to God’s will. However the topic seems especially relevant in African societies as many of them ascribe a paramount role to the “Word of God” and thus the Bible seems to be used most directly as a handbook for political actions. With their critical analytical approach the contributors of BiAS 7 try to meet this special challenge for Contextual Biblical Studies which has to be taken more serious than it used to be in academic research.
This volume is a passed PhD thesis handed at Universität Bayreuth, Germany. The author examines burial customs and rituals among the Shona and sees a definite pattern comparable to the Judeo-Christian practices. He contends that these practices among the Shona were a preparation for the Gospel of Christ or ‘preparatio evangelica’ as Vatican II would identify this phenomenon. He laments the fact that the early Missionaries did not make full use of this preparation which would have laid the foundation for the fullness of the Gospel message they brought. On the contrary, some Missionaries sought to destroy the foundation instead of building on it, a temptation which lingers to this day, given the different conceptions of these customs and rituals by different theologians and evangelizers. The author argues strongly and with conviction in favour of the foundation for Christian evangelization, which tradition has already put in place, as embodied in the death and after life rituals among the Shona. Given the controversy concerning the rituals among some, the author assumes a Christ-like approach, who asks his disciples, ‘Who do you say I am’ (Mk.8:29). Individuals and communities will respond to this question in unique ways and should not be coerced. Jesus does not coerce his disciples but invites them to respond in love. He leaves them to mature in the faith until he can challenge Peter saying, ‘Do you love me more than these?’ (Jn.21:15). The author embarks on a similar loving process of affirmation and positive critical analysis in the hope that the past will help propel the Shona into the present and future of Christ. The author charts a new and interesting way of reading Scripture in the light of the Shona death and after life rituals.
Face aux théories de développement élaborées par les experts en économie de la Banque mondiale et du Fonds monétaire international, de l’aide conjointe de la communauté internationale qui s’élève chaque année en milliards d’Euro; face aux politiques de sortie de crise envisagées par les pays africains eux-mêmes, l’impression qui se dégage est que tout bouge en Afrique mais rien ne change. Au contraire…Où situer donc le problème du développement en Afrique: dans le manque d’infrastructures ou des personnes? Fatalité ou simple détermination? L’auteur entend démontrer dans ce travail qu’il n’y a pas de politique véritable de développement qui n’épouse les contours socioculturels, historico-religieuses et géo-environnementales des peuples concernés. Et partant de l’exemple des Béti-Fang du Cameroun, l’auteur propose une étude exégètico-éthique de sortie de crise au Cameroun.
That the Bible is a manual for daily living is attested in almost all Christian denominations, how this role is transformed into practice is clearly an area that remains a contested terrain among Christians. This volume is our modest contribution to looking at the relationship between the Bible and our practices. The central question that the articles in this volume respond to is: how is the Bible related to our daily life? This question is especially important on the African continent where religion appears to be gaining influence. Without taking anything away from western biblical scholars, African biblical scholars must also engage with the question: how do we put into practice the teachings of the Bible? This volume contains papers presented at the International Bible Symposium 2009 in Bamberg (Germany) and additional contributions.