Original Research

The biblical ethics of work: A model for African nations

Godwin N. Toryough
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 31, No 1 | a363 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v31i1.363 | © 2010 Godwin N. Toryough | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2009 | Published: 23 November 2010

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This article has unpacked issues surrounding workers’ poor attitude in terms of work and focuses on Nigeria and on Africa at large. It addresses the lapses of labour for both employers and the employees, which include misconduct, non-commitment, unfaithfulness, apathy and exploitation, amongst other things. It is the argument of this article that a misconception of work and a lack of work ethics are some of the major factors responsible for these negative attitudes. In order to get around this perceived problem, the article suggests a theological solution which is rooted in the Christian Scriptures. Thus polemic approaches as well as an exegesis of the Scriptures concerning the right concept and attitude to work are employed in this study. The synchronic approach to exegesis is employed in this work. This approach looks at the final form of the text as it stands in the Bible. The particular components of this approach applied in this article are narrative and rhetorical criticism whilst others involve lexical, grammatical and syntactical analysis. In addition, the Intercultural Hermeneutics approach of contextualization is employed. The article points out how work which, from a theological perspective, originated with creation and was not intended to be evil later became conceived as a kind of punishment. It also demonstrates how work became bifurcated into secular and spiritual spheres with its attendant negative consequences in the Middle Ages. It concludes with a presentation of the biblical ethics of work which is recommended as a benchmark for attitudinal change in stakeholders.


work ethics; Nigeria; concept of work; African Nations; employer-employee relationship


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