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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible A richly illustrated account of the story of the Bible written by leading scholars.

Liberation and Inculturation Biblical Hermeneutics

The liberation of South Africa has accelerated academic exchanges between South (and southern) Africa and Africa north of the Limpopo river and brought the liberation hermeneutical perspective of the South African (and to some extent southern African) experience of the Bible into sustained dialogue with the inculturation hermeneutical perspective of West, East, North, and Central Africa.

The foregrounding of culture, ethnicity, and Africanness in South Africa in the post-apartheid context has opened biblical scholarship to the rich resources further north where culture has always been the predominant domain of transactions with the Bible. But just as South African biblical scholarship has much to learn, so too it has much to contribute. Issues of Africanness, ethnicity, and culture cannot be separated from the complex matrix they share with issues of race, class, and gender. African biblical scholarship north of the Limpopo has been strangely silent on these matters, but that silence is being broken, particularly by African women, who are tired of being asked to wait while more important (male) matters are dealt with. They wait no longer.

African women, then, are providing a way for dialogue and collaboration between the liberation hermeneutical perspective of South Africa (where the predominant hermeneutic disposition is one of suspicion towards the Bible) and the inculturation hermeneutical perspective of West, East, North, and Central Africa (where the predominant hermeneutic disposition is one of trust towards the Bible). For African women, theologies of bread (with an emphasis on liberation) and theologies of being (with an emphasis on inculturation) are inextricably intertwined.

As a further example of the need for dialogue between liberation and inculturation hermeneutics, the role of the Bible in the ‘ethnic’ conflict in Rwanda remains to be examined, but when it is the relationship between culture and class will have to be carefully examined, given a social history in which social class divisions within a single cultural group were manipulated by colonial powers to produce ethnic forms of identity.

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