Original Research

Tattoos and tableaus of flourishing: Qohelet and African spirituality in transformation

Annalie E. Steenkamp-Nel
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a1907 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.1907 | © 2019 Annalie E. Steenkamp-Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2018 | Published: 10 July 2019

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Annalie E. Steenkamp-Nel, Department of Christian Spirituality, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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African spirituality studies have established that Africans regard flourishing as connected to the secular and the sacred. African human flourishing as a multi-faceted concept remains relatively unexplored though. Guided by a spiritual transformation approach, I suggested that African lives, activities, choices and beliefs are dynamically integrated with Qohelet’s interpretation of joy towards flourishing. I offered differing interpretations of familiar ‘joy’ texts in Qohelet in an effort to breathe new life into the texts themselves, along with the interdisciplinary dialogue more generally. The theoretical framework of spiritual transformation will be followed in order to relate ‘flourishing’ and ‘joy’ to its African relevance. The interaction between Biblical scholarship and African spirituality resulted in attaining a more profound understanding of the African human person. African spiritual transformation and its Biblical resonances can guide readers in harnessing their own range of joy experiences, unravel daily issues and enhance modern flourishing.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The research is positioned in the interface between Biblical scholarship and African spirituality. The sensorial aspect of joy can be explored in Liturgy and Practical Theology in order to assist churches in accommodating joy. Spirituality can support Missiology on its way to congregational and community flourishing. The constructive engagement with the natural sciences can assist diverse societies, individuals, families, biological bodies, social groups and political institutions in South Africa to understand with integrity the origin and ongoing dynamics of their spirituality.


African spirituality; flourishing; joy; Qohelet; spiritual transformation, decolonisation, Old Testament; Ecclesiastes


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