Original Research

Anything new under the sun of African Biblical Hermeneutics in South African Old Testament Scholarship?: Incarnation, death and resurrection of the Word in Africa

Madipoane Masenya (Ngwan'a Mphahlele), Hulisani Ramantswana
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 1 | a1353 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1353 | © 2015 Madipoane Masenya (Ngwan'a Mphahlele), Hulisani Ramantswana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 April 2014 | Published: 25 March 2015

About the author(s)

Madipoane Masenya (Ngwan'a Mphahlele), Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Hulisani Ramantswana, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


In this article, two lenses are used to engage the task of African Biblical Hermeneutics. The one lens is derived from African wisdom, i shavha i sia muinga i ya fhi?, in which there is a need for people to affirm their own roots. Drawing from the wisdom of the preceding proverb, we argue that, in their scholarship, African biblical scholars have to take seriously their own African heritage and thus do justice to their contexts rather than rely heavily on Western paradigms if their scholarship is to impact communities and also contribute towards shaping the face of biblical hermeneutics as a whole. The other lens is an analogy derived from the following events in Jesus’ life: incarnation, death and resurrection. The task of African Biblical Hermeneutics has to be a three-fold process for the Bible to be ‘gospel’ in Africa: Firstly, the incarnation of the Word – the Bible as the Other has to incarnate into African contexts for it to become an African Word. Secondly, the death of the Word – this entails a critical engagement with the Word from multiple perspectives for it to be relevant to the struggles of African people. Thirdly, the resurrection of the Word – the biblical text has to be allowed to address and transform an African person in new creative ways.


Old Testament, African Biblical Interpretation, decolonisation, black beauty


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