Original Research

Solitude in the multitude: A Christological response to loneliness in the Akan community of God

Godibert K. Gharbin, Ernest van Eck
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2771 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2771 | © 2023 Godibert K. Gharbin, Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2022 | Published: 07 August 2023

About the author(s)

Godibert K. Gharbin, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Ernest van Eck, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and New Testament Studies, Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada


The amphibious Akan concept of community manifests both individualistic and communalistic features. An analysis of the individualistic features reveals that the Akans grapple with incarnating their values, leaving many ‘children of God’ lonely. John 5:1–18 presents a similar case in which a member of a ‘collectivistic community of God’ lived a secluded life until Jesus intervened, revealing that the community struggled with incarnating its sociocultural values. Thus, the study aimed to demonstrate how Jesus’ response provides a remedy for the Akan sociocultural malady. The study employed Ossom-Batsa’s communicative approach because it enables an interpretative framework that helps to achieve this aim: an exegesis of the text, an exegesis of reality and an engagement between the text and reality. The findings revealed that the individualistic propensities in Bethesda and the Akan community are the roots of loneliness in both cultures. The study concluded that the Akan Christians must be relational. This involves relating to one another as human beings: understanding that ‘a human being needs help’ and becoming the agent of that help. It also demands that they fulfil their moral obligation to perform their emancipatory role towards lonely members by prioritising reaching out to them and epitomising Christ’s compassionate and merciful nature by helping them to overcome their situations.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The communicative approach allows New Testament Studies to intersect with Akan anthropology and sociology and offers a new perspective on how to revitalise in the Akan culture a sense of communitarian egalitarianism plagued by individualism.


Johannine community; solitude; Akan community; communalism; individualism.


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Crossref Citations

1. Multitudes and Solitude: The Idiosyncratic Response of the Qodesh Family Church (QFC)
Godibert Kelly Gharbin
E-Journal of Religious and Theological Studies  first page: 147  year: 2024  
doi: 10.38159/erats.20241053