Original Research

Adaptation and inculturation, as tools for understanding Igbo-African marriage system: A rereading of 1 Timothy 3:2

Prince E. Peters
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2057 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2057 | © 2020 Prince E. Peters | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 October 2019 | Published: 23 July 2020

About the author(s)

Prince E. Peters, Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria


1 Timothy 3:2 in its traditional reading is one of those Bible texts that have negatively challenged the Igbo style of marriage and family life. This is because the church’s ‘generalisation policy’ on the sacrament of matrimony, which has presented such passages as all inclusive, has left it an out-of-context hermeneutical text both in sermons and catechetical interpretations. Since the church is assumed to be an impartial umpire in cultural matters, then, understanding such passages for an average Igbo Christian would mean to interpret them in their contexts or to interpret them through Igbo lexicology, which is technically called adaptation. But if the biblical writers used the languages and the literary forms of the ancient Mediterranean world, then a re-view of such passages through the Igbo cultural lens is imperative considering that African scholars have become aware that neither the methodology used by the European scholars nor their theological conclusions reached reflected the reality of the African experience and its self-understanding. This paper, with an African contextual hermeneutical view drawn from deconstructionist criticism including textual and form critical methodology, critically examined this situation, and narrowed the study to the sacrament of marriage.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study challenges the dogmatic theological position of the church in the sacrament of matrimony. Its potential result will be to emancipate the Igbo-African church from neo-colonialism in which it was enmeshed through dogmatic ambiguities, questioning the western opinion to godly marriage and instead, reinstating the African marriage in its place.


adaptation; inculturation; hermeneutics; Igbo; marriage; polygamy; ethnography


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