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Deus ex Machina? Religious texts, spiritual capital and inequalities: In continuation of a current debate (a response to colleague Farisani)

Christo Lombaard

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 36, No 1 (2015), 7 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1378

Submitted: 25 August 2014
Published:  20 April 2015


Often, theological debates stand in the tension between idealist and realist perspectives. This is true too of a discussion in which I have participated on the Africanisation or contextualisation or relevance of the Bible in (South) Africa. In this debate I have at times been cast as being opposed to such Africanisation or contextualisation or relevance. Such criticism is mistaken. I am, however, critical of too idealistic views on the ways in which Old Testament research can impact African problems. In an interdisciplinary manner, the sociological concept of spiritual capital proves useful in illustrating my view. With this, I hope to be understood correctly and, more importantly, to contribute to greater realism concerning the relationship between research and societal problems. In that way, the Africanisation or contextualisation or relevance of the Bible in (South) Africa can become a greater reality. This is of increased importance in the post-secular time frame in which we currently find ourselves, in which the role of religion in the public sphere is again finding greater acceptance rather than being side-lined. On all counts, thus, the plight of the marginalised may be better served. Such broader acceptance of religion also demands that Bible scholarship takes full cognisance of the societal processes through which such upliftment can occur in reality. Therefore, en route to publication, this contribution is presented for critical consideration in three intellectual fora:

• The Religious and Spiritual Capital session, XVIIIth International Sociological Association World Congress of Sociology (conference theme: ‘Facing an unequal world’), Yokohama, Japan, 13–19 July 2014.

• The Old Testament Society of South Africa Annual Conference (conference theme: ‘Studying the Old Testament in South Africa, from 1994 to 2014 and beyond’), University of Johannesburg, 03–05 September 2014.

• The Research Day of the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, 25 September 2014, at which colleague E. Farisani’s University of South Africa inaugural lecture of 03 September 2013, ‘Dispelling myths about African biblical hermeneutics: The role of current trends in African biblical hermeneutics in the post-apartheid South Africa’ was re-presented as ‘Current trends and patterns in African Biblical Hermeneutics in postapartheid South Africa: Myth or Fact?’ for the purpose of critical discussion.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The intersection of Theology and Sociology adds concrete avenues for furthering the cause of the Africanisation of Biblical Studies.

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Author affiliations

Christo Lombaard, Department of Christian Spirituality, University of South Africa, South Africa


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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