Scielo RSS <![CDATA[HTS Theological Studies]]> vol. 70 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>The <i>HTS Teologiese Studies</i>/<i>Theological Studies</i> 70 year anniversary volume - dedicated to Johan Buitendag</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The <i>Logos</i> between psychology, ontology, and Divinity: Fundamental aspects of the concept of <i>Logos</i> in the early thought of Slavoj</b> <b>Žižek</b>]]> Slavoj Žižek's philosophy spans over more than three decades, which is confirmed by the numerous books he published since the late 1980s. Since his thinking about the idea of logos is no exception, this article focuses on what can be termed Žižek's early philosophy, and especially that depicted in his The sublime object of ideology (1989) and The metastases of enjoyment (1994). Whilst the former underlines the psychological aspects of the logos, the latter focuses more on theories about being, as well as on theological considerations. This is why, three uses of the logos were identified in Žižek's thought: psychological, ontological and theological, all three with a clear focus on the human being as conceived in modern thought, which for Žižek seems to be utterly opposed to traditional thinking about man and his relationship with God. It is clear from Žižek that whilst the notion of God does appear in this thought, it only refers to the human being which encapsulates the essence of Žižek's philosophy to the point that the logos itself is a fundamental feature of the human being's material existence in the natural world. Regardless of whether the logos points to psychology, ontology or divinity (theology), it always emerges as an idea which centres on the human being, with a special interest in how it exists as well as how it works in the world. <![CDATA[<b>That tough guy from Nazareth: A psychological assessment of Jesus</b>]]> Christmas gives us that 'sweet little Jesus Boy' and Lent follows that with the 'gentle Jesus, meek and mild.' He was neither of those. In point of fact, he was the 'tough guy from Nazareth.' He was consistently abrasive, if not abusive, to his mother (Lk 2:49; Jn 2:4; Mt 12:48) and aggressively hard on males, particularly those in authority. In Mark 8 he cursed and damned Peter for failing to get Jesus' esoteric definition of Messiah correct. Nobody else understood it either. Jesus had made it up himself and not adequately explained it to anybody until then. He called the religious authorities snakes, corrupt tombs, filthy chinaware, fakes, and Mosaic legalists who had forgotten God's real revelation of universal grace and salvation in the Abraham Covenant. He tore up the temple in the middle of a worship service and cursed those present for turning God's house of prayer into a den of thieves, when actually they were kind, helping out-of-town tourists obtain the proper sacrifices for the liturgical rituals. Jesus was persistently aggressive, often angry and not infrequently irrational, killing an innocent fig tree with his curse, for example. He constantly attacked the Pharisees and their proposals for renewing the spiritual vitality of the Jewish Community. He abused numerous people by healing them on the Sabbath just to make his political point against the religious leaders. He could just as well have healed them on Tuesday, if he really wanted to heal them. By healing the blind man in John 9 on the Sabbath, for example, he caused the man to be driven out of his synagogue, his family, and his community of faith; isolated and abandoned as if he were a leper. Even when he said surprising things about children, his focus was not on the children but on his disciples, using the children as tools for making an assertive teaching point. Jesus' life was one of perpetually aggressive claims for his vision of God's reign. He constantly and intentionally provoked conflict and disruption of the status quo, spiritually and politically. He refused to negotiate, compromise, palliate, or mollify his insistence upon keeping his elbow perpetually in the eye of the people in power. In all this he would not back down. The principle by which Jesus operated was absolute and that is why he did not back down, even though they killed him for this very reason. His principle was simply that the renewal of Jewish spirituality could only come from a return to the Abrahamic Covenant, which declared (Gn 12; Rm 8) that God is gracious and universally forgiving towards all humankind, unconditional to our conduct and behaviour, and radically in that it removes all fear, guilt, and shame from the equation of our relationship with God (Mi 7:18-20). He saw that the Pharisees and Scribes were absolutely wrong in assuming that the Mosaic legal system would renew the Jewish relationship with God. He was not the gentle Jesus, meek and mild. He was that tough guy from Nazareth! He had good reason and he was willing to go the distance for what he stood for, even to death on the cross. <![CDATA[<b>'Ascended far above all the heavens': Rhetorical functioning of Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8-10?</b>]]> The letter to the Ephesians employs various communicative strategies in responding to the rhetorical situation of its implied recipients. Focusing on the recipients' new identity and ethos έν Χριστώ [in Christ], the text emphasises supernatural elements such as resurrection, ascension, heavenly places, revealed mystery, Spirit and power. At the same time, it adopts a rich mosaic of traditional materials, inter alia echoing the Hebrew Scriptures, Hellenistic traditions and early-Christian liturgical traditions. This article explores the dynamic yet complex intertextual fusion and reappropriation of (mainly Jewish) traditions in Ephesians as the author's experience and understanding of the ascended Christ. Special attention is given to the probable functioning of Psalm 68:18 (LXX 67:19) in Ephesians 4:1-16. In conclusion, the essay investigates the intended rhetorical effect of material from the Hebrew Scriptures in the letter - as construction of Christian identity in continuation with the story of Israel and from within the context of Empire. <![CDATA[<b>Same-sex relationships: A 1st-century perspective</b>]]> Read in the light of other Jewish literature of the time, not least, Philo of Alexandria, Paul's comments in Romans 1 about same-sex relations should be seen as a rhetorical ploy to gain a sympathetic hearing for his argument from the Roman recipients of his letter by appealing to common ground in deploring the sins of the Gentile world before turning to challenge them about the fact that all have sinned, and so need the good news of God's righteousness revealed in Christ. Typically Paul's focus is not just acts, but attitude and misdirected passions, which he sees as the result of misdirected and perverted understandings of God. Based on the Genesis creation stories, Paul assumes that all people are heterosexual and that the prohibitions of Leviticus should apply also to lesbian relations. Where these assumptions are not shared, Paul's conclusions must be revisited in the light of informed compassion and responsible ethical insight. <![CDATA[<b>Is <i>rewritten Bible/Scripture</i> the solution to the Synoptic Problem?</b>]]> New Testament scholars have for centuries posited different solutions to the Synoptic Problem. Recently a new solution was proposed. Mogens Muller applies Geza Vermes's term rewritten Bible to the canonical gospels. Accepting Markan priority, he views Matthew as rewritten Mark, Luke as rewritten Matthew, and John as additional source. This article examines Muller's hypothesis by first investigating the history of the controversial term rewritten Bible/ Scripture and its recent application to the New Testament Gospels. Muller's hypothesis is then compared to other solutions to the Synoptic Problem, such as the Augustine, Griesbach, and Farrer-Goulder Hypotheses. The Two Document Hypothesis is discussed and Muller's 2nd century Luke theory is compared to Burton Mack's almost similar stance and tested with the argument of synoptic intertextuality in view of the possible but improbable early second century date for Matthew. Lastly, the relationship between the synoptic Gospels is viewed in terms of literary intertextuality. Muller suggests proclamation as motivation for the Gospels' deliberate intertextual character. This notion is combined with the concept of intertextuality to suggest a more suitable explanation for the relationship between die Gospels, namely intertextual kerugma. This broad concept includes any form of intertextuality in terms of text and context regarding the author and readers. It suitably replaces rewritten Bible, both in reference to genre and textual (exegetical) strategy. <![CDATA[<b>The significance of the second cave episode in Jerome's <i>Vita Malchi</i></b>]]> The authors argue that the second cave episode in Jerome's Vita Malchi Monachi Captivi should, in view of the similarities with the first cave episode and the high incidence of literary devices employed in it, be recognised for its value in the interpretation of this vita. The book was intended as a defence of, and an exhortation to a life of celibacy and this dual purpose is clearly demonstrated in both episodes in which a cave is used as the setting. The second cave episode has been neglected in the scholarly debate about the purpose of the book and this article attempts to set the record straight. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of Greek drama on Matthew's Gospel</b>]]> This article presents the Greek influence on the genre of Matthew's text. Greek and Roman tragedy is examined, from which the five basic elements of tragedy are identified. A brief examination of the characters in the Matthean text is done to identify Greek cultural influences on the structuring of the Gospel. This study offers evidence that Matthew may have intentionally orchestrated a drama with the intent of having an understandable, attractive way to present Jesus to Jew and gentile alike. <![CDATA[<b>(Con)figuring gender in Bible translation: Cultural, translational and gender critical intersections</b>]]> The gendered intersection of cultural studies and Bible translation is under acknowledged. Accounting for gender criticism in translation work requires, besides responsible theory and practice of translation, also attention to interwoven gender critical aspects. After a brief investigation of the intersections between biblical, translation and gender studies, translation in a few Pauline texts with bearing on gender and sexuality are investigated. <![CDATA[<b>He who laughs last - Jesus and laughter in the Synoptic and Gnostic traditions</b>]]> The aim of the article is to examine the meaning of references to laughter in the Synoptic Gospels and a number of Gnostic texts. Whereas Jesus is depicted as an object of ridicule (Mk 5:40 par.) and as condemning those who laugh in the Synoptic Gospels (Lk 6:25), it is he who often laughs derisively at the ignorance of others in Gnostic texts. The meaning of laughter in the Synoptic Gospels and a number of Gnostic texts is examined in the light of the general Greco-Roman attitude towards laughter and, more specifically, in regard to the archetypical distinction between playful and consequential laughter in Greek culture. <![CDATA[<b>Early Christian spiritualties of sin and forgiveness according to 1 John</b>]]> The article attempts to investigate the possible lived experiences created by this text. The text revolves around the experience of fellowship with God (1:6, 7) who is characterised as 'light'. For the author of 1 John, sin disrupts this fellowship. He creates an awareness and a 'spirituality of sin and guilt' in the lives of his readers through the use of the experiential metaphor of darkness in a dialectic combination with light and the two false negations 'do not have sin' (sin as a noun) and 'do not sin' (sin as a verb). This fellowship is re-established through living in the light: the confession, forgiveness and expiation of sin. The author creates a spirituality of confession, forgiveness and expiation of sin through descriptive cultic (blood of Jesus and expiation), forensic (paraclete), atypical (cleans, expiation, paraclete) and all-inclusive (all [twice], whole, anyone) language. Thus, in his rhetoric, the author uses metaphor, dialectic, sacrificial, forensic, atypical and all-inclusive language to facilitate a variety of 'lived experiences' within his readers. Firstly, he wants them to feel guilty about their sins and consequently, after they have confessed their sins, to strengthen their faith. Secondly, he wants to encourage them to believe that they can experience the forgiveness of their sins and, by doing so, know that they have eternal life (5:13) and can experience fellowship with God and, mutually, with one another. <![CDATA[<b>Hypocrisy in stewardship: An ethical reading of Malachi 3:6-12 in the context of Christian stewardship</b>]]> The biblical concept of stewardship has been subjected to some misunderstanding. Each time the word stewardship is mentioned, the meaning that easily comes to mind is that of money. One of the means through which Christians express their appreciation to God is through dedicated and trustworthy stewardship. In the book of Malachi the focus on the tithe in particularly in the fifth disputation oracle (3:6-12) is closely associated with the issue of disrespect for the Lord. The people's perspective with respect to and use of their wealth and/ or personal effects was simply a symptom of the viability of their covenant relationship with Yahweh. An acknowledgement of Yahweh's ultimate ownership and/or proprietorship over all things, his generosity and faithfulness in juxtaposition to the deceitfulness of the people as demonstrated by Malachi serves as enough motivation for total Christian stewardship. This article highlights the economic reality of Yehud during Malachi's day, the intricacies of the prophet's accusations of hypocrisy concerning the tithe, and in an attempt to be dispassionate as well as careful, the article concludes by emphasising some underlying principles with regard to Christian stewardship which will serve as a reminder to Christians about their ethical responsibility. <![CDATA[<b>Calvin and the confessions of the Reformation</b>]]> This article discusses the complicated question of the connection between Calvin and the confessions of the Presbyterian Reformed tradition. Firstly, a contrast is drawn to the question of the connection between Luther and the Lutheran confessions. It is noted that here a closed canon of Lutheran confessions exists, and Luther himself wrote three of the documents. On the other hand, there is no closed canon of Reformed confessions. However, there is a broad consensus concerning which Reformed confessions from the 16th century are classical. In this article a synopsis is provided of this list, and it is discovered that Calvin himself only wrote one of the classical Reformed confessional documents, although he influenced some others. The article then continues to discuss Calvin's own contribution, his Catechism of 1542/1545. The historical context of writing in which this Catechism is sketched, its use in Geneva is described, and the outline of the Catechism is mentioned. The article continues to discuss why Calvin thought there was a need for a catechism, and why he wrote it in Latin and sent it to East Friesland. In conclusion the author explains why he has discussed Calvin's Catechism, instead of focusing on the English Confession of 1556. <![CDATA[<b>On being African and Reformed? Towards an African Reformed theology enthused by an interlocution of those on the margins of society</b>]]> This article was first given as an inaugural lecture. As such, it sets out a particular agenda for the researcher's interest. Here, the notions of being African and Reformed are interrogated. The research notes that these notions are rarely used in the same vein. It is admitted that notions tend to pick up different meanings as they evolve, so these notions are especially seen in that light. The theological hegemony, which in the South African academic circles had become enveloped in the Reformed identity, is here forced to critically consider Africanness. This is considered significant, especially in a context where the Christian faith is seen to be flourishing in the global South. The article challenges attempts at explaining what Africanness mean as a front to perpetuate a status quo that from its inception never thought much of Africa and or Africanness. The author argues that the African Reformed Christian must acknowledge is status as a partial outsider in Reformed theological discourses. <![CDATA[<b>Freed by trust, to believe together: Pursuing global ecumenism with Küng and Tracy</b>]]> In the past decades it has emerged more clearly than before that Christian religion, which has so often contributed to human oppression, has rich theological resources that can be used to restore and perfect human freedom. These resources have been reflected upon not only by liberation theologians, but also within the ecumenically oriented theology of religions which targets what Hans Kung calls global responsibility based on global ethics. World religions have an essential role to play in rendering that global humanity more humane and free. The only way to accomplish this task leads through ongoing dialogue, directed both ad intra and ad extra, in the pursuit of a 'global ecumenism' which the present suggests and the future demands. For those liberating and unitive resources inherent in religious theory and praxis to be activated, fundamental trust in the reality of the world and of one's own self appears indispensable. By deepening the theological insights of Hans Kung and David Tracy, the article seeks to explore the mutual correlation between such fundamental trust in reality and religious faith in God, interpreted from a Christian perspective. Firstly, I probe the notion of fundamental trust from the existentialist and specifically Christian (theological) standpoints. Secondly, I examine both the positive and the negative consequences that fundamental (mis) trust may have for religiosity. Finally, the Christian interpretation of fundamental trust as correlated to faith in God is reflected upon in terms of global ecumenism and its response to the needs of our radically pluralistic moment. <![CDATA[<b>From virtue ethics to rights ethics: Did the Reformation pave the way for secular ethics?</b>]]> In chapter four of his book, The unintended Reformation, Brad Gregory argues that ethical thinking since the 1500's experienced a major shift in emphasis from the teleological concept of a 'substantive morality of the good' to liberalism's 'formal morality of rights'. He attributes it to the religious upheavals and 'sociopolitical disruptions' during the Reformation era. This article probes three elements of Gregory's argument. Firstly, the article offers a critical assessment of Gregory's depiction of the Reformation's stance towards reason. It pays particular attention to the Reformation's understanding of the effects of sin on the human being's image of God, reason and the possibility for a shared social ethics. Secondly, this study scrutinises Gregory's argument that the Reformation created an individualist notion of selfhood in contrast to the Roman Catholic communal notion of selfhood and thereby paved the way for modernism. Lastly, the discussion probes into Gregory's claim that the Reformation's ethical paradigm diverged radically from the Latin Christendom paradigm and that this contributed to the subjectivisation of ethics, by replacing a virtue ethics with a rights ethics. <![CDATA[<b>When one becomes two: A perspective on recent events in the Netherdutch Reformed Church of Africa</b>]]> On 28 July 2013 13 congregations of the Netherdutch Reformed Church of Africa (Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika) declared themselves independent and constituted as the 'Geloofsbond van Hervormde Gemeentes'. This contribution examines the recent historical background to this event as well as several contributing factors such as the role of the media, the role of organisations, differences in theology as well as ideological differences. The conclusion is reached that a tension-filled discourse between confessional and critical theology, linked to clear ideological views, were the main contributing factors to divisions in the church. The contribution concludes with a discussion of some implications of these events from the perspective of church polity. <![CDATA[<b>The early Korean Protestant Churches' impact on Korea's democratisation: With special reference to the Korean Presbyterian Church</b>]]> This study examines the significant influence of the early Korean Protestant churches in general and the Korean Presbyterian Church in particular on the early phases of Korea's democratisation. Firstly, the Western Protestant mission works in general were visibly conducive for dissemination and cultivation of egalitarian and democratic ideals, with the mission churches becoming sites of do-it-yourself democracy. Secondly, the Nevius (Mission) Methods of the Korean Presbyterian Church came to foster the democratic spirit of self-support and self-government, resulting in its rapid growth. Thirdly, with the implementation of a nationwide, representative and democratic polity (presbytery) with a constitution, the church even facilitated law-binding and institutional democracy for Koreans in general and Korean Christians in particular. Fourthly, the church's democratic working deeply inspired Korean democratic politicians, especially Mr Changho Ahn, who had an important influence on the making of the Provisional Government of Korea and its Constitution. <![CDATA[<b><i>Cura animarum</i></b><b> as hope care: Towards a theology of the resurrection within the human quest for meaning and hope</b>]]> The following critical questions are posed: is hope the antidote of dread and despair or a kind of escapism from the harsh realities of anguish and suffering? What is meant by hope in Christian spirituality and how is hope connected to a theology of the resurrection? Is resurrection hope merely a kind of cheap triumphantalism and variant of a theologia gloriae? The basic assumption is that the notion of the resurrection can contribute to 'the thickening of alternative stories of faith'. A theologia resurrectionis is about the reframing of life by means of a radical paradox: 'Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?' If pastoral caregiving is indeed about change and hope, the resurrection describes an ontology of hope by which human beings are transformed into a total new being. Beyond the discriminating and stigmatising categories of many social and cultural discourses on our being human, resurrection theology defines hope as a new state of mind and being. The identity of human beings is therefore not determined by descent, gender, race or social status, but by eschatology (new creation.) Hope care is primarily about a new courage to be. It opens up different frameworks for meaningful living within the realm of human suffering. <![CDATA[<b>Leadership for the church: The shepherd model</b>]]> The scope of this article is to expand the shepherd model of leadership functions as portrayed by the shepherd metaphor. The identification and the biblical usage of the shepherd and the sheep is explored, with special focus on the role of the shepherd. This role is identified as that of caring, courage, and guidance. The caring function includes activities such as restoration, feeding, watering, grooming, shearing, delivering lambs, leading, and protection. The function of courage focuses on activities of assuming responsibility, serving and participating in change. The function of guidance gives a special highlight on hodegos [leader or guide] - to lead or to guide in regard to a decision or future course of action. This is where the leadership training is based. The conclusion is the call for leaders in the ecclesiastical community to pursue the shepherd-leader model for the advance and the effectiveness of the mission Dei [mission of God] in the world. <![CDATA[<b>The pedagogical role of multicultural leadership in post-apartheid South Africa</b>]]> Practical theology in the 21st century is faced with increasing diversity that requires a new pedagogy to address multicultural challenges. Multiculturalism serves as a subversive agency for monocultural and 'silent minority' landscapes. It might also contribute to the development of an identity pedagogue for the three public spaces of theology, specifically in South Africa, where this new democracy seeks a new culture of humanity and has to deal with the dichotomy of a multicultural society and a resistant monocultural 'laager' mentality of minority races. Despite the promising start to its democracy, South Africa has many social challenges and practical theology has a role to play by reflecting on how we understand and embody the relationship between faith, culture and public life. To this end, this article seeks to reflect critically on spirituality, leadership and social transformation praxis in search of meaning-forming multicultural praxes. <![CDATA[<b>Forum-ing: Signature practice for public theological discourse</b>]]> This article introduces a unique model for public theological conversation and discourse, which was developed by the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta (CBC). It was a model developed in response to the problems of poverty, homelessness, and the 'missing and murdered children' victimised in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America in the early 1980s. It was originally organised to respond to the economic, financial, spiritual, emotional, employment, housing and resource needs of the underserved poor. This unique practice is called forum-ing. The forum meets every Monday morning, except when there is a national holiday. It has operated 30 consecutive years. The forum has a series of presentations, including the opening prayer, self-introductions of each person, a report of the executive director, special presentations from selected community groups, reports, and then questions and answers. The end result is that those attending engage in a process of discourse that enables them to internalise new ideas, approaches, and activities for addressing poverty and injustice in the community. Key to forum-ing for the 21st century is that it is a form of public practical theology rooted and grounded in non-violence growing out of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. The overall purpose of this article is to contribute to the effort of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) to identify those variables that will assist religious leaders in South Africa to develop public conversational spaces to enhance democratic participation. This article presents one model from the African American community in Atlanta, Georgia. The hope is to lift up key variables that might assist in the practical and pastoral theological conversation taking place in South Africa at present. <![CDATA[<b>Canon, Jubilees 23 and Psalm 90</b>]]> There never existed only one form of the biblical canon. This can be seen in the versions as well as editions of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. History and circumstances played a central role in the gradual growth of eventually different forms of the biblical canon. This process can be studied using the discipline of intertextuality. There always was a movement from traditum to traditio in the growth of these variant forms of biblical canon. This can be seen in an analysis of the intertextuality in Jubilees 23:8-32. The available canon of the day was interpreted there, not according to a specific demarcated volume of canonical scriptures, but in line with the theology presented in those materials, especially that of Psalm 90. <![CDATA[<b>Malachi's concern for social justice: Malachi 2:17 and 3:5 and its ethical imperatives for faith communities</b>]]> Any time humans in any culture consider primary ethical concepts, justice will be to the fore. Much seems to hinge upon it whether human society is to function with any semblance of civil order, security and harmony. When justice is pervasively trampled upon, the very fabric of liveable society crumbles. The apprehension for justice is clearly reflected in almost all of the Old Testament (OT). It is an important theological motif in the OT. This is found in such OT literature as historical, legal, prophetic and wisdom writings. This evidence thus reveals that the apprehension for the issue of justice was one of the many ways by which Israel's multifaceted social life was knit together throughout its various ancient historical developments. No aspect of the life of Israel was excluded from this kind of apprehension for justice, and Yahweh was understood to be actively involved in its entire phase. This article examines Malachi's fourth disputation in the light of the lawlessness alluded to in Malachi 2:17 and the corruption of personal and civil morality in Malachi 3:5. In the discussions that follow, this article examines the need for the justice of Yahweh; that is, Yahweh's righting of past wrongs and the reversal of sinful societal order. The purpose is to enact a communal ethic for those who generously care for the neighbourhood and are firm in their devotion to Him, that is, God. <![CDATA[<b>The church and the secular: The effect of the post-secular on Christianity</b>]]> Paradigms determine relationships. During the Enlightenment period Emile Durkheim proposed a relationship between the sacred and the profane. Religion, which is concerned with the sacred, was defined in terms of being different from the profane. The profane came to denote the secular. The organic character of religion caused some scholars to predict the end of the church at the hand of modernisation and rationalisation. Some scholars instead envisaged a new form and function of the church. Some scholars anticipated the growth of Christianity. Reality shows that Christianity has not died out but seems to be growing. The new era we are currently in (identified as the postmodern) has been described as the post-secular age where a process of re-sacralisation takes place. How will the post-secular influence the church? What will the relationship between the church and the secular be like under a new paradigm? This article suggests that within a postmodern paradigm, the post-secular will emphasise the place of the individual in the church. Fragmentation of society will also be the result of the post-secular. Religiosity in future will have to contend with fundamentalism and civil religion. <![CDATA[<b>Is religious fundamentalism our default spirituality? Implications for teacher education</b>]]> Using experiential interpretivism as underpinning methodology, this article investigates whether religious fundamentalism is the default spirituality of human beings. Our research is based on a hermeneutic reconstructive interpretation of religion, fundamentalism, radicalism, extremism, spirituality, life- and worldview, and the role of education in bringing about peaceful coexistence amongst people. We concluded that the natural religious-fundamentalist inclination of the human being tends to be (and needs to be) counterbalanced by the education - that is, socialisation - that he or she receives from the moment of birth, the important first six or seven years of life, and throughout his or her life. Based on this conclusion, the article ends with the articulation of ten implications for teacher education. <![CDATA[<b>Theology as (re)interpretation: Twenty-six considerations</b>]]> The article consists of 26 points of reflection by means of which the nature of theological discourse is considered as a hermeneutical process. These indicators cover aspects such as the relationship between the natural sciences and religious thinking; hermeneutics; philosophy; ultimacy; symbolic meaningfulness; Old Testament roots; historical Jesus; Christological dogmatics; creation and Spirit; kenosis; and social concern. The article concludes in its last reflection with the claim that plurality in both religious discourse and ecclesiastical structures is the challenge for theology, so as to remain relevant in the present-day scientific discourse and religiosity and to be obedient to the vocation of Jesus. <![CDATA[‘...<b>conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary': The exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism in the light of present-day criticism</b>]]> The article is a contribution to the 450 year celebrations of the Heidelberg Catechism (HC). Sunday 14, Questions and Answers 35 and 36 receive attention. It deals with the two statements of the creed conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary'. The exposition of the HC is compared to the catechisms of Zacharias Ursinus and John Calvin in order to capture something about the historicity of the text. The exposition of the creed is an on-going process. Karl Barth, Eberhard Busch and Jan Milic Lochman are good examples of Reformed theologians who remain faithful to the intention of the HC, but who explain these statements with present-day criticism in mind. The exposition of Peter Berger is valuable because this sceptic argues that the opinion of modern, liberal Protestantism is of no value. The article concludes that the 'virgin birth' as such has no great value. It is only one aspect of the Christian gospel. It also does not proof the divinity of Christ. The divinity of Christ is presupposed. <![CDATA[<b>The Coptic Church in South Africa: The meeting of mission and migration</b>]]> Previously identified as an entrenched Egyptian community, Copts have propelled themselves into the greater Africa through two main phenomena: migration and mission. Copts have recast displacement to transcend powerlessness and loss by highlighting the sovereign opportunity to consolidate identity in new contexts and widen the fold of the Coptic community, expressed through ecumenism, holistic ministry, cultural sensitivity and the presentation of the Coptic Church as essentially 'African'. In migration, the Coptic Church creates identity through physical presence (church buildings), recasting the narrative (African originality), employing a rubric of sovereignty (agency rather than passivity) and engaging others ecumenically (gaining Orthodox legitimacy). Beyond reaching out to migrants, much energy has been devoted to mission by establishing institutions, including a missionary training department at the Institute of Coptic Studies and a Department of African Studies in Cairo. In mission, the Coptic Church extends its influence beyond migrants to include non-Copts and non-Christians through ecumenism, social programs and the presentation of Copts as essentially African. <![CDATA[<b>Teaching as an act of stewardship: Theology in practice</b>]]> The concept of stewardship has evolved from merely being significant in the financial contribution that people make towards their church to an all-encompassing decision that dictates people's lives. It is not a feeling of urgency that someone is born with, but rather a decision and commitment made on a daily basis. Teachers thus find themselves in the perfect situation to be stewards in their classrooms on a daily basis. Furthermore, this tendency is noticed in teachers who work towards turning their schools into stewardship-driven institutions that aim to develop an environment driven by a calling to teach; therefore, theology is offered a leading role in the way the school is managed. <![CDATA[<b>Fast, faster, poorest decisions: A practical theological exploration of the role of a speedy mobinomic world in decision-making</b>]]> In a digital world, it seems as if the boundaries between rich and poor are becoming increasingly blurred. A mobinomic world is created through the use of cellular telephones, which plays an important role on multiple levels of socioeconomic understanding. Various advantages are created through the interplay between the power of mobility and the convergence of various forms of media. Considering the immediate accessibility of an overflow of data in various forms as well as time pressure, decision-making is increasingly becoming associated with living in the fast lane of the digital world. Unfortunately, the cost of faster decision-making is that it could potentially result in individuals making poor decisions on various levels. A practical-theological exploration, as embedded in a transversal rational engagement, entails a preliminary investigation and description of this digital reality, especially as portrayed in the dynamics of decision-making associated with the social media platform Twitter. <![CDATA[<b>'Between life and death': On land, silence and liberation in the capital city</b>]]> This article reflects on the unfinished task of liberation - as expressed in issues of land - and drawing from the work of Franz Fanon and the Durban-based social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo. It locates its reflections in four specific sites of struggle in the City of Tshwane, and against the backdrop of the mission statement of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria, as well as the Capital Cities Research Project based in the same university. Reflecting on the 'living death' of millions of landless people on the one hand, and the privatisation of liberation on the other, it argues that a liberating praxis of engagement remains a necessity in order to break the violent silences that perpetuate exclusion. <![CDATA[<b>Understanding of failure and failure of understanding: Aspects of failure in the Old Testament</b>]]> Taking its cue from Rudolf Bultmann's famous verdict that the Old Testament is a 'failure' ('Scheitem'), the article reviews three influential negative readings of Israel's history as told in the Former Prophets. It is then argued that awareness of the theological problem posed by Israel's history enabled the redactors of both the former and the latter prophetic collections to deal with the element of human failure in a way that facilitated Israel's retaining of her faith. Next, the sapiential insight in failing human discernment is drawn into the equation. Failure of human action is here interrelated with failure to comprehend God's order. By virtue of its incorporation into the totality of the Tanak, this insight became a constructive part of Israel's faith. Therefore the concept of failure comprises more than coming to terms with Israel's catastrophic history. Since it is encoded in Israel's Holy Scripture, 'failure' is a major concept within the Old Testament internally and is therefore not suitable as a verdict over the Old Testament by an external value judgement. 'Failure' thus becomes a key hermeneutical category, not merely so that the Old Testament could become a 'promise' for the New Testament to fulfil, but as a manifestation of limits in human religion and thought. Far from undermining self-esteem, constructive use of the concept of her own failure sustained Israel in her catastrophe and should be adopted by Christianity - not least in South Africa, where the biblical message was often misappropriated to bolster apartheid. <![CDATA[<b>The joy at the Last Judgement according to the Heidelberg Qatechism Question 52</b>]]> In this contribution, the author reflects on Question 52 of the Heidelberg Catechism where it asks: 'What comfort is it to you that Christ "shall come to judge the living and the dead"?' The author points out possible sources from which this formulation stems, that is, Articles 86 and 87 in John Calvin's Catechism from 1545. God is described as a compassionate judge. Even more: the One who is the last judge, was also judged and had paid for our sins. In a dialectical fashion we discover a God who is just, but also merciful. The Reformed tradition did not follow a dead-end where it is taught that God shows us grace instead of righteousness. Had God proceeded in this way, he would only mean things well, but he would not make them well. The realisation of God being just and merciful leads to joy and repentance. The contribution ends with a discussion of the final separation of the just and evil. <![CDATA[<b>Spirituality in the perspective of foundational theology</b>]]> Systematic theology, especially the so-called foundational theology, has a strong connection with traditions of philosophy, at least in Western thinking. From the 20th century onward, systematic theology was often focussed on forms of transcendental philosophy. This article argues why this kind of research has to be deepened by research into different forms of spirituality. Research into 'lived spirituality' offers new pathways for foundational theology and makes the need to develop a renewed approach to foundational theology all the more urgent. <![CDATA[<b>What </b><b>έν τώ κόσµω</b><b> are the </b><b>στοιχεία του κόσµου</b><b>?</b>]]> The expression τά στοιχεία του κόσµου is one of the most discussed, and most disputed, phrases in Galatians. In the following article, insight into the meaning of this phrase is sought by first of all clarifying and summarising the full scope of issues which must be explained by any interpretation of the phrase. Such a summary overview has often not appeared in various scholarly discussions. Subsequently, the primary proposed interpretations are discussed with the argument ultimately being made that it is Paul's conception of 'the world' which provides the key to a solution to the interpretive conundrum that best satisfies the entire context of Paul's letter and argument. <![CDATA[<b>The gift of discernment as mirror for the church</b>]]> In the encounter between man and the Holy, man reacts with the ambivalent emotion of fear and fascination. Man is confronted by something incomprehensible. How will man know whether this is God? Any response by man, even faith, might be a self-deception. This condition is called 'bad faith' by Sartre and Berger. In an existential struggle with the numineuse, man constantly tries to get to know God and his will. This struggle is faith. The Holy Spirit bestows the gift of faith on mankind. The pneumatic moment is when congruency is established between on the one hand the human identity arrived at in Christ and, on the other hand, the existential expression of the response to the calling by God. <![CDATA[<b>Prosperity gospel: A missiological assessment</b>]]> The article attempts to establish that prosperity gospel is rooted in the faulty interpretation of several biblical passages. The prosperity gospel portrays wealth and riches as a covenant and the fulfilment of the divine promise of God to his people. The basic teaching of the prosperity gospel is that God wants believers to get rich or healthy, but he cannot bless them unless they first send money known as 'seed-faith' to their spiritual leader or pastor who tells them about the plan. This approach was popularised by the American televangelist Oral Roberts in Tulsa Oklahoma in the United States of America (USA). It has now spread to other parts of the world, including Africa. This article investigates the teaching of this theology whilst attempting to offer a biblical foundation of Christian giving for the work of God. <![CDATA[<b>Leadership mentoring and succession in the charismatic churches in Bushbuckridge</b>]]> Leadership mentoring and succession programmes are critical in the development and preparation of emerging leaders for leadership transitions. By virtue of their one-founder-leaders whose special leadership talents are usually celebrated by their followers, Charismatic church leaders may fail to identify and develop young emerging leaders who may be equally gifted to prepare them for leadership succession. This quantitative study investigated the state of leadership mentoring and succession programmes in the Charismatic churches in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, South Africa (Bushbuckridge is one of five local municipalities in the Ehlazeni District Municipality situated in the north-east of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa. It borders private game ranches and the Kruger National Park). A population of 287 respondents drawn from 48 churches from rural and urban locations was assessed. Many of them (85%) were reported to have leadership mentoring programmes in their congregations and 72% of them reported that they had leadership succession programmes in place. Location was found to have no statistically significant effect on leadership mentoring. Gender and education levels were reported to have a statistically significant effect in describing leadership mentoring. Charismatic groupings in Bushbuckridge believe and take the Bible seriously as authoritative for faith, life and ministry. We therefore think it is appropriate to include in this article a relevant illustrative text - 2 Timothy 2:1-3. <![CDATA[<b>Suffering in the mystical traditions of Buddhism and Christianity</b>]]> This article seeks to explore the mystical approaches to suffering characteristic of both Buddhism and Christianity. Through the analysis of the meanings, the two traditions in question ascribe to suffering as a 'component' of mystical experience; it challenges the somewhat oversimplified understanding of the dichotomy 'sage-the-robot versus saint-the-sufferer'. Thus it contributes to the ongoing discussion on the theological-spiritual dimensions of the human predicament, as interpreted by various religious traditions. It also illustrates (though only implicitly) in what sense - to use the Kantian distinction - the mystical experience offers boundaries (Schranken) without imposing limits (Grenzen) to interfaith encounter and dialogue. <![CDATA[<b>The effect of religion on poverty</b>]]> Poverty is a human condition. Social, economic, psychological and political factors affect society and can alleviate as well as stimulate poverty. Religion provides a unique perspective on the phenomenon of poverty. This article suggests three functions of religion regarding poverty. Firstly, religion can redirect human thought to spiritual concerns, focusing on spiritual poverty instead of material concerns. Secondly, it can provide the moral fibres needed in society. Religion can influence the response to poverty by having an ethical impact when principles benefiting all in society are applied within economic systems. Religion can also influence the response to poverty by fostering an attitude of willingness to practise generosity. Religion can educate communities in order for human dignity of all in society to be restored. Thirdly, religion can be part of the system actively encouraging and participating in alleviating poverty. <![CDATA[<b>Imagining the beauty and hope of a colourful phoenix rising from the ashes of Marikana and service delivery protests: A postfoundational practical theological calling</b>]]> The last few years the young democratic South Africa's history has been characterised by service delivery protests and industrial action which is becoming increasingly violent as epitomised by Marikana. Is the violence that accompanies industrial action and service delivery protests emblematic of a powerless frustration and a violent revulsion at the thought that there will be no change? For 18 years, hope was placed in the idea of liberation which would open the doors to a brighter future for the majority, yet all that remains of that noble dream lies in the ashes of current events that populate the newspaper headlines of the major South African newspapers. What role can Practical Theology play in this context? What is the calling of Practical Theology, and specifically postfoundational narrative theology? These are the questions this article will seek to answer, by proposing that a narrative approach can listen to the untold stories and thus the colourful phoenix can rise from the ashes. <![CDATA[<b>The Heidelberg Catechism: A 16th century quest for unity</b>]]> In this contribution the view is presented that the Heidelberg Catechism should be regarded as an attempt to promote unity between 16th century reformers and churches in the Palatinate. This, to some extent, determined the content of the Catechism resulting in some controversial issues receiving less attention. This in turn not only made the Catechism acceptable to a wide spectrum of Reformed Christianity, but also resulted in a creative and unique contribution to Reformed theology, almost a 'third option'. It was soon used in different Reformed territories as a confession and acclaimed for its clarity in formulating the basic Reformed faith. Today the Heidelberg Catechism is regarded as one of the most 'ecumenical' documents of the 16th century. As such, it still promotes unity amongst many Reformed churches, including those in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>An ethical analysis of the implementation of poverty reduction policies in South Africa and Chile and their implications for the Church</b>]]> The focus of this contribution is the issue of poverty reduction within the South African and Chilean contexts. It is rooted in the academic field of Christian Ethics and also draws on several texts from the human and economic sciences. Policies adopted and practical steps taken to overcome poverty by the respective governments between 1990 and 2012 are evaluated and the theological and practical implications of poverty for the church are briefly highlighted. Despite differences between these two countries, South Africans can learn much from the Chilean policy and its implementation. <![CDATA[<b>Church as heterotopia</b>]]> This article reflects on an ecclesiastical institution as a spatial panoptic structure which domesticates representational space as a hierarchy of power devoid of a sensitivity for the 'human Other' (Autrui). The notion of heterotopia is promoted to deconstruct spatiality and linearity (time) as theological binary concepts. Being church as heterotopia does not deny the desire for the utopian dimension in religious thinking but holds on to utopian thinking amidst adversity and diversity. Therefore the concept of heterotopia is used to describe reconciliatory diversity, which is characteristic of an inclusive postmodern church which is a space where unity is not threatened by diversity, where the one is not afraid of the Other. <![CDATA[<b>Habitat, emotion and an eco-theological understanding of humanity: In conversation with Johan Buitendag</b>]]> The question on what his viewpoint of an eco-theological understanding of life entails is firstly posed in conversation with the South African systematic theologian Johan Buitendag. His standpoint, in which he argues for the constitutive significance of habitat against the background of the philosophical, biological and theological contours of descriptions of what life is, is set forth. He suggests that human life should be described with regard to habitat in its constitutive significance and subsequently in regard to a value system, and concludes that human life as homo religiosus must be understood from an eco-theological viewpoint as ontologically extended ('ontologies uitgebreid'). His eco-theological viewpoint is secondly taken up in an explication of the sense making of human life by humans, determined and shaped by their biological roots in their habitat. Lastly the affective-cognitive dimension of being human with specific emphasis on affectivity is expounded as representing the embodiment of the logic of survival of personhood in their habitat. <![CDATA[<b>The Things of Caesar: Mark-ing the Plural (Mk 12:13-17)</b>]]> This article observes the rarely-discussed phenomenon that the Marcan paying-the-tax scene refers to tax in the singular, whilst the concluding saying uses the plural 'the things of Caesar and of God'. The article accounts for this phenomenon by means of developing traditions. The section under the heading 'Mark's scene and saying about taxes (12:13-17)' counters the common claim that scene and saying originated as a unit from the historical Jesus. It proposes that whilst the saying may have originated with Jesus, the scene as we have it did not. The section under the heading 'Social memory, orality, and a multi-referential saying?' suggests some contexts that the saying about the things of Caesar addressed pre-Mark. And under the section 'Trauma and Mark's scene' it is argued that Mark created a unit comprising scene and saying to negotiate the 'trauma' of the 66-70 war. The unit evaluates freshly-asserted Roman power as idolatrous and blasphemous whilst simultaneously authorising the continued involvement of Jesus-believers in imperial society. <![CDATA[<b>Galatians and the περ</b><b>ὶ</b><b> </b><b>ἰ</b><b>δε</b><b>ῶ</b><b>ν λόγου</b> <b>of Hermogenes: A rhetoric of severity in Galatians 1-4</b>]]> After justifying the method applied, a brief characterisation of the rhetorical model of Hermogenes is presented. The prominence of harsh or severe styles in Hermogenes invites us to read Galatians, which is a strongly confrontational letter, through the eyes of Hermogenes. By applying severe language, Paul endeavours to bring his Galatian convertees to their senses and prevent them from succumbing to the pressures of the Judaisers. In scrutinising Galatians 1-4, it became clear that the model of Hermogenes can significantly aid our understanding of severe language in Galatians at a micro, as well as a macro level. The Hermogenic category of indignation, for example, provides the key towards solving the riddle of Galatians 4:12-20. <![CDATA[<b>Galatians and the περ</b><b>ὶ</b><b> </b><b>ἰ</b><b>δε</b><b>ῶ</b><b>ν λόγου</b> <b>of Hermogenes: A rhetoric of severity in Galatians 5-6</b>]]> Severe style in Galatians 5-6 is investigated from the perspective of the περὶ ἰδεῶν λόγου of Hermogenes. Galatians 5:7-12 is an extreme example of what Hermogenes would categorise as vehemence. At the same time, it signifies a turning point: Harshness against the opposition peaks and is relentlessly sustained, whilst severity against Paul's Galatian recipients is slackening, but only up to a point. A résumé of the twofold trajectory of severity in Galatians is presented. Hermogenes can significantly help us appreciate the sustained presence, form and functioning of severe language in Galatians; much better than any or a combination of the three classical genres of speech topics. In view of the correspondences between Galatians and Hermogenes, it may even be asked whether Paul was familiar with traditional rhetorical material that in some form eventually also reached Hermogenes. <![CDATA[<b>An archaeological search for the emergence of early humans in West Africa</b>]]> Fossils of early humans and their ancestors dating back to millions of years have not yet been found in West Africa. Tools made of bones, stones, and wood suggesting use by early humans or their ancestors have however been found in some parts of West Africa. This research investigates the possible origins and West African indigenous influences on the manufacture and use of these tools. The purpose of this research is to stimulate interest into the study of West African archaeology and palaeontology. <![CDATA[<b>Led by the Spirit: Missional Communities and the Quakers on communal vocation discernment</b>]]> This article argues that the term missional is an expression of the global shift towards a theocentric (rather than ecclesiocentric) understanding of mission. A Missional Community is a concrete, local embodiment of this missional ecclesiology and it comes to be through discerning its particular and ongoing vocation in the cosmic missio Dei. It is for this reason that we argued that communal vocation discernment lies at the heart of the Missional Community's life and practice. This practice births, energises and renews the Missional Community in the wake of the boundary-breaking Spirit's work in the local neighbourhood or context. Because communal vocation discernment is central to Missional Communities it seemed prudent to ask which other communities or traditions see discernment as central to their life and practice. In Western Christianity, the Quakers stand out as a significant example of communal discernment as their normal way of making decisions. We sought to answer whether the Quaker practice of communal discernment, in the Meeting for Worship in which Business is Conducted, is a suitable model for communal vocation discernment in Missional Communities. We suggested that it was not suitable in so far as it did not express an explicit commitment to being grounded and connected to a place or neighbourhood as a prerequisite for discernment. We suggested that it was suitable in so far as it continually reminds the community that communal discernment is not simply about making decisions or finding your vocation but at its heart is an act of worship. This awareness in the Quakers is primarily achieved through naming communal discernment spaces as worship spaces and through the strategic use of silence. We also suggested that the Quaker commitment to unity and dissent creates space for belonging, agency and responsibility in the community and that this is something which Missional Communities would do well to appropriate in their own communal vocation discernment. <![CDATA[<b>The ultimate miracle? The historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus</b>]]> This contribution compares two views of the Resurrection of Christ; a traditional view that assumes that at the Resurrection, the dead body of Christ was transformed with the result that after the Resurrection, the grave was empty, and a revised view that assumes that the grave was not empty and that the Resurrection of Christ is not something that happened in this world, but in heaven. On the basis of a consideration of arguments for and against both views, the author argues for the traditional view. He goes on to show, however, that the traditional view cannot be adopted by historians who apply the principle of analogy. He argues, moreover, that this principle cannot be abandoned altogether. In the case of alleged singular events or miracles, however, this principle cannot be applied. This means that even if, as the author argues, the Resurrection is Geschichte (it really happened in this world, and the grave was empty), it falls outside the scope of Historie (it cannot be ascertained by the methods of strict historiography). <![CDATA[<b>The material turn in Religious Studies and the possibility of critique: Assessing Chidester's analysis of 'the fetish'</b>]]> In recent debates the neglect of the material dimension of religion and the foregrounding of beliefs in the modern academic study of religion has been attributed to a Protestant bias. As corrective a number of researchers have shifted their attention to the study of bodily performances, sensory experiences and sacred objects in religious traditions. In this article I will enquire how David Chidester's analysis of the cultural, political and economic uses of 'fetishes' under 19th century colonial conditions in southern Africa and in European centres of theory formation on the one hand, and under 20th and 21st century American imperial conditions on the other, may inform the comparative study of religions. Central to my argument will be that the realisation that religions are necessarily concretely mediated should not preclude the possibility of a systemic critique of power relations that are at work in the uses of objects in religions, the comparison of religions and the comparative study of religions. <![CDATA[<b>Liturgical inculturation or liberation? A qualitative exploration of major themes in liturgical reform in South Africa</b>]]> In this article, the notion of liturgical inculturation is revisited in the light of qualitative liturgical research conducted in local faith communities as well as with church leaders in South Africa regarding liturgical reform over recent decades. Two central themes were identified as representing important changes that occurred and are still occurring in the liturgy in South Africa roughly since Vatican II and the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. They are referred to here as 'the language of women' and 'the language of justice'. The concept of liturgical inculturation is revisited in the light of the ways in which these two 'languages' function and functioned in the liturgies of churches in South Africa. In conclusion, an argument is advanced for a more comprehensive understanding of the notion of liturgical inculturation in order to assist the liturgy to regain its prophetic voice in South Africa today. <![CDATA[<b>Theological education with the help of technology</b>]]> Theology seemingly does not have a major impact on society anymore. However, Christianity did not only change and form the western world over the past 2000 thousand years, it still has a substantial role to play in society. This could be done through the development of theologies, the recognition that religious topics are still major segments in the publishing industry and the transforming potential of the Christian message on people. Although theological training finds itself in a difficult position, technology offers support to teaching and learning, cuts costs and offers solutions to a number of current problems concerning the effective formation of ministers. It is no longer necessary to provide theological training through a one-size-fits-all approach - a style that kept the pre-network society boxed. The aim is to motivate educators in theology to embrace the opportunities provided by the network society in aiding with the training of ministers by utilising current and future trends of development in technology. <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 32 as a wisdom intertext</b>]]> Psalm 32 is considered by the majority of investigators to be a psalm of thanksgiving with a mix of wisdom poetry. In this article, the thesis is defended that it was devised from the beginning as a wisdom-teaching psalm although it simulates the form of a psalm of thanksgiving in certain respects. The case for this is argued on the basis of the complete integration of its parts, as well as its similarity to Proverbs 28:13-14 and some other wisdom texts. The aim of the psalmist seems to have been to argue (on the basis of a personal experience) that stubbornness in accepting the guilt of sin causes suffering, but that Yahweh is eager to restore an intimate relationship with those worshippers who confess their guilt and are willing to accept his guidance on the way of life. <![CDATA[<b>Social identity complexity theory as heuristic tool in New Testament studies</b>]]> In this article the author gives an overview of a relatively new theory in social psychology, namely Social Identity Complexity Theory, and illustrates the heuristic value of the theory for New Testament interpretation. Paul's letter to the Galatians is taken as a case study to illustrate how the theory could shed new light on the Galatian conflict and on Paul's social identity complexity, which might have made him a good facilitator of change and reconciliation. <![CDATA[<b>Insults and face work in the Bible</b>]]> Insults play a key role in social interaction in the agonistic culture of the Middle East. This article constructs a social scientific model of social interaction regarding face work and insults and then filters the Gospel of Matthew through that model to highlight the prevalence of insult in the biblical world. <![CDATA[<b>Women's stories implying aspects of anti-Judaism with Christological depiction in Matthew</b>]]> This study focuses on the women's stories that imply aspects of anti-Judaism within Matthew's depiction of Christology, which is called Matthew's theology. In fact, Matthew's community opposed the Jewish system and Jewish leaders and parted from its parent body. Even though Matthew's community was still similar to the Jewish system, it had significant differences as well. The study discusses these aspects of anti-Judaism that appear in the woman's stories that include the genealogy of Jesus, the haemorrhaging woman, the Canaanite woman, and the women at the cross and Jesus' tomb. This study shows proof and examples of anti-Judaism within the stories and thoroughly analyses them. Therefore, it can be confirmed that the women's stories imply aspects of anti-Judaism with Christological depictions by Matthew's theological tendency. <![CDATA[<b>Synoptic, redactional, stylistic and narratological observations on the retelling of Mark 7:30 in Matthew 15:28</b>]]> The Matthean redaction of Mark 7:30 in Matthew 15:28 often receives scant attention in scholarship in terms of its narrative quality. At most, it is regarded as a truncation of the full Marcan version, while all attention is given to Matthew's introduction of the notion of 'faith' in this verse. This article argues, by contrast, and on the basis of a synoptic comparison and narratological analysis of both texts, that more justice is done to both versions of the conclusion of this healing miracle when understanding them as achieving different narrative effects, with Matthew focusing on the immediacy of the healing, while Mark creates suspense, thus focusing on the veracity of Jesus' statement that the girl in question is healed. <![CDATA[<b>Persuasion in Romans 11</b>]]> A new trend in the rhetorical analysis of Paul's epistles is to reconstruct his rhetorical strategy from the text itself, rather than applying ancient or modern rhetorical models to his letters. A proposal for such a text-centred approach is briefly summarised in this article, followed by a discussion on the rhetorical situation that Paul wishes to address in his letter to the Romans. It is argued that chapter 11 forms an integral part of his rhetorical strategy as reconstructed from the text itself, and that it is aimed at persuading his audience in Rome to support his view on God's plan of salvation, as well as his forthcoming mission to Spain. The conclusion is that a text-centred approach (with its focus on the functional aspects of the text) provides a better alternative to existing approaches (which focus on the formal aspects of the text). <![CDATA[<b>Rural education: Reimagining the role of the church in transforming poverty in South Africa</b>]]> The desire to remember the plight of the poor in South Africa has reduced in the last 20 years after the transition from apartheid to freedom. To a large extent, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and the religious society at large have lost their 'dangerous memory' which keeps us mindful of those who suffered and whose plight is usually forgotten or suppressed. In this contribution the conditions of poor farm school children in multigrade rural education will be scrutinised by unpacking the contextual factors that cause us to forget their plight. This article will seek to reimagine the role of the church in poverty-stricken South Africa by engaging with the work of Talcott Parsons, the practical theologian Johannes A. Van der Ven, as well as the work of the political theologian Johann Baptist Metz in order to affirm the focus of Practical Theology to transform society and to contribute to the quest for justice and liberation for the poor in rural education. This reimagining discourse has a fundamental responsibility to challenge the social, political and economic realities that shape the lives of human beings within rural education, remembering the plight of the poor, and participating on their journey towards liberation and healing. It is proposed that if the church can activate its 'dangerous memory' it will be able to reimagine its role by transforming our poverty-stricken South African society, open new avenues for breaking the cycle of poverty and contribute to rural education. <![CDATA[<b>Pragmatic dimensions in parable research and the divine economy of the <i>basileia</i></b>]]> Interpreting a parable requires the decoding of the nature of an analogy which will reveal the degree of the deciphering of the riddle communicated through parabolic discourse. In biblical hermeneutics throughout the 20th century Aristotelian logic revived in parable research in that the nature of a 'meta-phor' between the subject and the predicate in a comparison (the so-called Ähnlichkeitsrelation) was understood in terms of either 'epi-phor' (analogy) or 'dia-phor' (disanalogy). This distinction contributes to the disclosure of power relationships concealed in religious discourse by uncovering the subversive dimension of parabolic discourse. This article focuses on aspects from pragmatic linguistics (especially the role of implicature in communication) and antisociety language usage. These two aspects are explained by illustrations from the Jesus tradition (parable of the pearl), Epictetus's dissertations (meal parable), and Paul's comments on marriage (1 Cor 7). <![CDATA[<b>'What is that to us? See to it yourself' (Mt 27:4): Making atonement and the Matthean portrait of the Jewish chief priests</b>]]> To read the Gospel of Matthew within its 1st century religious context is to read an intensely Jewish narrative. Central to the world of this Gospel are the Jerusalem temple, its administrators, the chief priests, and the sacrificial system which they are charged by Jewish law to officiate. This article assesses the Matthean portrait of the Jewish chief priests of Jesus' day against the scriptural backdrop which lays out their prominent role within Jewish religious life, namely 'making atonement' before God for the 'sins' of the people. In section one I sketch out the Matthean portrait of the scripturally assigned role of the priests, connecting this portrait to its biblical antecedents. In section two I assess the overall performance of the Matthean chief priests against the backdrop of their assigned role. In section three I address the question of atonement. Crucial here is 27:3-10, the account of Judas Iscariot, who returns his 30 silver coins to the chief priests and says (27:4a; emphasis mine), 'I have sinned, because I have handed over innocent blood'. Here I highlight Matthew's ironic modus operandi as he portrays the chief priests' non-priestly response to Judas. Additionally, I contrast Matthew's portrait of the Jewish chief priests with a brief portrait of Jesus' own ministry within the Jewish community, a ministry which fulfils the priestly role abandoned by the chief priests. I conclude my article in section four with brief reflections on the rhetorical impact of Matthew's portrait of the Jewish chief priests within his overall narrative. <![CDATA[<b>Locating 'Contextual Bible Study' within biblical liberation hermeneutics and intercultural biblical hermeneutics</b>]]> This article uses the occasion of the 70th anniversary of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies to reflect on a particular form of liberation hermeneutics that emerged in the 1980s in South Africa. 'Contextual Bible Study' is briefly defined, but its precise contours are explored by locating this form of liberation hermeneutics within liberation hermeneutics more generally and then intercultural biblical hermeneutics more specifically. The article sets up a dialogue amongst these practices, examining both their family resemblances and their distinctive features. <![CDATA[<b>Reading and proclaiming the Advent call of John the Baptist: An empirical enquiry employing the SIFT method</b>]]> Drawing on Jungian psychological type theory, the SIFT method of biblical hermeneutics and liturgical preaching suggests that the reading and proclaiming of scripture reflects the psychological type preferences of the reader and preacher. This thesis is examined among a sample of clergy (training incumbents and curates) serving in the one Diocese of the Church of England (N = 22). After completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the clergy worked in groups (designed to cluster individuals who shared similar psychological type characteristics) to reflect on and to discuss the Advent call of John the Baptist. The Marcan account was chosen for the exercise exploring the perceiving functions (sensing and intuition) in light of its rich narrative. The Lucan account was chosen for the exercise exploring the judging functions (thinking and feeling) in light of the challenges offered by the passage. In accordance with the theory, the data confirmed characteristic differences between the approaches of sensing types and intuitive types, and between the approaches of thinking types and feeling types. <![CDATA[<b>The identity and witness of Arab pre-Islamic Arab Christianity: The Arabic language and the Bible</b>]]> This article argues that Arab Christianity has had a unique place in the history of World Christianity. Rooted in a biblical witness, the origins and history of Arab Christianity have been largely forgotten or ignored. This is not primarily as a result of the fact that the Arab Christian historical legacy has been overcome by Islam. Rather, unlike other early Christian communities, the Bible was never translated into the vernacular of the Arabs. By the 7th century the language of the Qur'an became the primary standard of the Arabic language, which then became the written religious text of the Arabs. This article will explore the identity and witness of the Christian presence in Arabia and claims that the development of an Arabic Bible provides a unique counter-example to what most missiologists have assumed as the basis for the spread of the Christian faith as a result of the translation of the Christian scriptures into a vernacular. <![CDATA[<b>Correlations between types of culture, styles of communication and forms of interreligious dialogue</b>]]> This article argues that culture encodes behavioural and conceptual patterns of dealing with inside-outside boundaries, and that as a consequence, different types of culture are likely to encode different styles of communication and corresponding forms of dialogue. It suggests that dialogical partners may benefit from the insight that interreligious dialogue tends to display patterns related to the underlying mechanisms of intercultural communication and that these cultural mechanisms are more influential in the dialogical process and outcome than the religious ideals pursued. Developmental models of dialogue in particular will be discussed. <![CDATA[<b>The story of the hashtag(#): A practical theological tracing of the hashtag(#) symbol on Twitter</b>]]> The phenomenon relating to the popularity and impact of social media as an important expression of the new digital world, is already widely known and well-documented. In this research, the main focus will fall on a specific manner of expression associated with social media and, in particular, with the Twitter platform, namely the hashtag (#) symbol. This symbol has come to comprise an important expression in popular culture, and is generally associated with various dimensions of activities in the social media environment. Through the use of several examples from the recent past, the development and meaning of the hashtag will be explored and described. As part of this description, a motivation will be put forward as to why it is important, for the purposes of a practical theological involvement as expressed in the dimensions of a lived spirituality, to take cognisance of the hashtag and the world that is associated with it. Arising from this motivation, and in congruence with the strategic character of practical theology, perspectives will be mapped out with a view to the further use and meaning of a dynamic reading of the hashtag. <![CDATA[<b>The psychology of animal companionship: Some ancient and modern views</b>]]> The intuitive sensing of a mental bond between ourselves and animals, especially those that live very close to us, our companion animals, has been there since early history. Some ancient Israelite views testify to an irresistible anthropomorphising of their domestic animals (Jn 3:5-9) as well as an acknowledgement of the socio-psychological support provided by them (2 Sm 12:1c-4d). Is there indeed a mental overlap between humans and animals to explain this intuitive experiencing of a bond between ourselves and them since ancient times? Modern neuroscience, through neuro-imaging, has shown that dogs (at least) are able to reciprocate our thoughts and feelings, be it in a limited way. They seem to have some limited form of a 'theory of mind' previously ascribed to humans only. This explains why they have been humans' 'best friend' for the past 12 000 years since they were domesticated from wolves. The intuitions of the ancients and the findings of modern science confirm that we and non-human animals all form intrinsically part of the fascinating web of life. This fact should sensitise us as moral agents to preserve this life. <![CDATA[<b>Ecology: Its relative importance and absolute irrelevance for a Christian: A Kierkegaardian transversal space for the controversy on eco-theology</b>]]> The controversy about the importance of eco-theology or creation spirituality seems to be in a deadlock. Those who support it and those who oppose it do not even seem to be able to communicate with one another. On the one hand, Celia Deane-Drummond, for example, writes in herEco-theology (2008:x): 'I find it astonishing that courses on eco-theology do not exist in many university departments of theology and religious studies.' Matthew Fox desperately asks in hisCreation spirituality (1991:xii): 'Need I list the [environmental] issues of our day that go virtually unattended to in our culture?' On the other hand, evangelical Christians are known for their ecological 'blind spot' (Davis 2000), until recently at least. Pentecostal proponents of the prosperity gospel preach a consumer-lifestyle for all Christians, which is not very eco-friendly (cf. Kroesbergen 2013). Even in more mainline Christianity we find, for example, the well-known theologian Robert Jenson who writes in his Systematic theology: Volume 2 (1999:113, n. 2): 'Recent waves of "creation spirituality" are simply apostasy to paganism. And it is such unguarded, even unargued judgement that is required of the church.' We find eco-theologians, who do not understand that not everyone agrees with them on the one hand, and opposing theologians, who do not even feel the need to argue against them on the other hand. What would be needed to re-open communication between those in favour of eco-theology or creation spirituality, and those opposed to it? <![CDATA[<b>Between scientism and fideism: Acceptance of evolution as a theological challenge</b>]]> In this contribution to the special issue of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies that is dedicated to Prof. Buitendag, I will explore what Prof. Buitendag's notion of a 'revised natural theology' might mean for the theological reception of the scientific theory of biological evolution. I argue that two extremes must be avoided here. One is the fideistic ignoring of (or refusal to take into account) the data that have been placed on the table regarding the evolutionary development of life on earth, as if these do not concern theology. The other extreme that theology must steer clear of is a scientistic over-interpretation of our knowledge of the evolutionary past, whereby the theory of evolution is magnified to a comprehensive philosophy of life ('evolutionism') that is incompatible with Christian faith. <![CDATA[<b>The Exodus as negotiation of identity and human dignity between memory and myth</b>]]> The rendition of the exodus in the Old Testament is an excellent example of cultural memory - a remembered past that resulted in collective memories that maintained the actuality or relevance of the past, without getting bogged down in the never ending agonising about the supposed 'historical factuality' of the past. In the Old Testament the exodus was remembered in diverging ways in different contexts and the ongoing need for identity and the influence of trauma were but two factors that influenced the manner in which the exodus was recalled. Despite unfavourable connotations it is again suggested that the exodus functioned as a founding myth in the evolving of Israelite and early Jewish identity. Such a heuristic goal will be less interested in establishing historically or archaeologically verifiable truth claims and more interested in how the memory of the exodus shaped identity and enabled human dignity in subsequent contexts of human suffering and oppression up to the present day. <![CDATA[<b>Vulnerability to resilience: The Afrikaans woman poet in patriarchal context. On Elisabeth Eybers's poetry and my own</b>]]> This article gives an account of the nature and content of my religious poems that form a large part of my poetry. Looking back upon my substantial oeuvre, I realise that it was as a woman that I gave expression to the human condition and to my experience of religion. As a woman poet I identified with the first acknowledged Afrikaans woman poet, Elisabeth Eybers. Although a specific female tradition was never identified in the Afrikaans literary criticism, the Afrikaans woman poet writes from within a patriarchal society of which the Bible and Christian doctrine form the basis. This corresponds with the situation of the English and American woman poet. Feministic American literary critics have reflected in depth on the woman poet's dilemma, and have shown that the woman poet's struggle to find her own identity is not against the strong male or female poets who preceded her, but against the inhibiting voices that live within herself. At deepest it amounts to a conflict between fulfilling her traditional female role as prescribed to her by the patriarchy, and fulfilling her vocation as poet - a theme in both Eybers's and my work. Because of the different courses of our lives, the female identities expressed respectively in our work differ: Eybers's identity is that of woman and mother, and later unattached immigrant, while mine is that of an unmarried career woman. In this article I concentrate on the way in which we give expression to our female identities in our poetry as influenced by the traditional Christian belief system in which we were brought up. I give a comprehensive account of the influence of characteristic scriptural language on Eybers's and my own use of words, and I discuss our poems on biblical figures in detail. <![CDATA[<b>Measuring and weighing psychostasia in Q 6:37-38: Intertexts from the Old Testament</b>]]> This article is the first of three on the relationship between the Sayings Gospel Q and the ancient concept of 'psychostasia,' which is the ancient notion that a divine or supernatural figure weighed people's souls when judging them. The ultimate goal of all three articles is to enhance our understanding of Q 6:37-38, as well as of the Q document as a whole. In the current article, attention is focused on intertexts from the Old Testament, and the occurrences therein of the word 'measure' and the concept of 'psychostasia'. The implications of these results for our interpretation of Q 6:37-38 are briefly noted. A second (future) article will focus on intertexts in apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings from Second Temple Judaism dealing with 'psychostasia'. A third study will ultimately spell out in more comprehensive detail the implications of the foregoing intertextual investigations on both our understanding of Q 6:37-38 and our understanding of the Sayings Gospel Q as a whole. <![CDATA[<b>Theology as understanding reality - thinking differently, acting differently: Notes about the theology of Johan Buitendag</b>]]> The article investigates the theological contours delineated from the publications of the systematic theologian Johan Buitendag. His theology represents a relational integrity of ontology, epistemology and ethics. It can be characterised as an existential ecotheology. In the introduction this rhizome (epistemological metaphor borrowed from Giles Deleuze and Félix Guattari) existence in Buitendag's theology is discussed. The article consists of nine sections: the hermeneutical circle as introduction; the polemic attitude of Karl Barth with regard to a theologia naturalis; understanding the notion paradigm; being church as a relational event; engaged epistemology; existential theo-anthropology and ecotheology; existential ecclesiology; existential engagement; and an autobiographical reflection. <![CDATA[<b>The forgotten struggle of Albert Geyser against racism and apartheid</b>]]> Albertus (Albert) Stephanus Geyser (10 Feb. 1918 - 13 June 1985) was a South African cleric, scholar and anti-apartheid theologian. On 17 February 2014 his alma mater, the Faculty of Theology of the University of Pretoria, presented the first commemoration lecture in tribute to the legacy of A.S. Geyser. This article portrays the décor of this commemoration. The article addresses the need to recall his contributions by discussing his prestigious career as a young academic, his transformation into an opponent of apartheid, the opposition against and persecution of him and his protest against apartheid. It discusses Geyser's conviction that apartheid could not be justified on the basis of the Bible and theological grounds. His activism is rooted in his biblical thought. The article reflects on Geyser's view that the church could be a powerful presence in the state and world while not compromising its message and preaching of the gospel of peace and love. <![CDATA[<b>Between the Scylla and the Charybdis: Theological education in the 21st century in Africa</b>]]> The article reflects on the challenges of theological education in the 21st century and in Africa. Reputation, impact, success and funding have become the driving forces of the modern university. However, we are living in the 21st century and in Africa with a subsequent frame of reference that is holistic and faith-based. The article therefore argues for a multi- and transdisciplinary approach towards the nature of a university and recognition of the unique contribution theological education can contribute. Due to the inherently cooperative nature of theological scholarship, theological education could be able to avoid the extremes of the Scylla and the Charybdis, that is, fideism and secularisation, and therefore be able to survive at an academic institution. Both sectarianism and scientism should be avoided. Theological education in Africa needed to travel the same difficult road of theological faculties in Europe in the previous century. <![CDATA[<b>Methodism and transformation in South Africa: 20 years of constitutional democracy</b>]]> It has been two decades since South Africa became a constitutional democracy. The transition of power in this country has not necessarily meant that the majority of South Africans have experienced a transformed life. The incessant experience of poverty, poor service delivery and lack of political will to facilitate change is leading to violent protest action. This article investigates the progression in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa's theological understanding of its role in being an agent of change in local communities. It does so by reflecting on the Church's place in the current political context, its programmes and recent initiatives in its mission-based focus. <![CDATA[<b>Inculturation: Adaptation, innovation and reflexivity. An African Christian perspective</b>]]> The purpose of this article is to examine the changing understandings of processes and terms which have been and are currently in use regarding the outworking of the mission of the church. This historical and missiological approach will evaluate the contribution of a number of African and other theologians during the 20th century and also the opening years of the 21st century. It will cover the missionary period from the end of the 18th century with a special focus on the impact during the 'high missionary era' (1880-1920) to the present. The focus will predominantly be on Africa and Pentecostalism, the role of women and the African diaspora as examples of effective inculturation. <![CDATA[<b>Emotion and the affective turn: Towards an integration of cognition and affect in real life experience</b>]]> Emotion is caused by many factors, some of which are evolutionary, neurological, chemical, environmental, societal, personal and religious. Mostly, however, we are oblivious of the causal factors, many of which may function on a biological level or subconsciously, although the emotional effect is experienced physically and consciously. Emotions change as the trigger mechanisms in the cultural context change. This usually happens unnoticed over long periods. Internet databases have now made it possible to study the use of emotive words; this point is discussed. Of particular interest is the interaction between emotion and reason. Models that reduce emotion to the physical level are scrutinised critically. Reason is not emotionless and emotion is not always irrational. The close interrelationship of emotion and reason often makes it difficult to distinguish accurately between the two. The so-called affective turn takes cognisance of cultural, social, religious and other environmental factors; this broader approach clarifies the importance of affect's role in rationality. One way of viewing emotion and affect is to look at the accompanying language; here the role of metaphor and narrative is pertinent. The traditional elevation of reason above emotion is examined critically as part of the affective turn that broadens the meaning and scope of emotions. I focus on the role of emotion in religion and factors that influence it, and explore the accent of affect in new spiritualities. <![CDATA[<b>Human rights and divine justice</b>]]> This article discusses the view of the Leiden professor Paul Cliteur that human rights are essentially secular and require rejection of God's will as source of moral authority. Firstly, it analyses Cliteur's reception of Kant and his claim that an exclusively anthropological grounding of human rights is the only possible one. Next, it investigates Nicholas Wolterstorff's criticism of Kant's grounding of human dignity in the rational capacity of mankind and his theistic grounding of human rights in God's love by the mediating concept of human worth. Although Wolterstorff rightly believes that God's special relationship with human beings is ultimately the best ground for human rights, his understandings of God's love and of human worth appear to be problematic. Finally, the article explores the possibility to ground human rights directly in God's justice by construing creation, the giving of the Ten Commandments and the justification of the sinner as central divine acts of justice in which God has given human rights to all human beings. <![CDATA[<b>The greening of Christianity: Charles Darwin, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Lloyd Geering</b>]]> Since the time of Charles Darwin, evolutionary biology challenged the metanarrative of Christianity which can be summarised as Fall-Redemption-Judgement. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin tried to circumvent these challenges by integrating the traditional Christian doctrines with evolutionary biology. However, he did not succeed since the Catholic Church, time and again, vetoed his theological publications. A number of Protestant theologians promoted his views but even they could not convince ordinary Christians to accept his views. These were too esoteric for Christians. Most of them were convinced that the acceptance of the theory of evolution will eventually undermine their faith. In recent years Lloyd Geering argued a case for the creation of a new narrative in which the Big Bang and the theory of evolution do play a role. He calls it the 'Greening of Christianity'. This article discusses the metanarrative of Christianity and the challenges the theory of evolution presents before it assesses the views of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Lloyd Geering. <![CDATA[<b>Challenges to the sub judice rule in South Africa</b>]]> As a lawyer, it is a privilege to contribute to this Festschrift in honour of Professor Doctor Johan Buitendag. His entire career has been a quest for the truth. In the process, he has fearlessly rejected political agendas based on the Bible, and has inspired countless students in their quest to serve God in a practical and humane manner. His published research as well as the output of his doctoral students, both present and past, bear witness to a life dedicated to the search for knowledge in the service of God. He has also assisted substantially in placing South African theological research on the international map. In a sense, this article which deals with the protection of the right to a fair trial of an accused, also acknowledges Johan Buitendag's quest for justice for all South Africans, whatever their creed, gender, race or standing. The subject of my article demonstrates my own quest to promote the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial, a right that should not be subject to inordinate pressure by the media, and which gives priority to the right of an accused to be presumed innocent: an accused who may frequently suffer loneliness and a sense of rejection. Related to that it is, of course, always important to bear in mind that freedom of expression is at the heart of our democracy. A balance has, accordingly, to be struck between the competing rights. <![CDATA[<b>Spirituality of liberation: A conversation with African religiosity</b>]]> The arrival of a salvationist, authoritative religiosity through Western Christianity in South Africa, in the company of a capitalist modernity, did not only dismantle and subvert the African indigenous dispensation of religiosity. It also sought to destroy it completely and arguably continues to do so in subtle forms in the 21st century, by attacking the imagination and consciousness of black Africans. This article argues that African religiosity as expressed in African Initiated Churches (AICs) is the site of the spirituality of liberation. Employing the notion of mokhukhu - a shack - the article places the sanity of black Africans, the spirituality of liberation, black African agency and consciousness within the narrative of African religiosity. It concludes by offering African religiosity as a resource for an alternative civilisation and an important agenda in the current debates of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. <![CDATA[<b>The resurrection of Jesus according to Jozef Ratzinger/Benedictus XVI</b>]]> As a follow-up to my earlier article in HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies ('The Pope's Jesus book and the Christologies of the gospels' [2011]), this contribution concerning the Jesus trilogy by Jozef Ratzinger will discuss the idea he presents of Jesus' resurrection and how his view should be assessed from the perspective of the current state of affairs in biblical scholarship. In addition, this article articulates a number of proposals that can take the discussion a step further. In that context, the following questions are dealt with: What is meant when we speak about the body of the risen Jesus? Are there - except for terms like 'to raise from the dead' or 'to rise up' - other formulas used in the New Testament to describe the fundamental reversal after Jesus' death? Can Ratzinger's biased focus upon the concept of 'resurrection' be expanded on the basis of other Old Testament models of thought or faith paradigms that can help us to understand that Jesus, through the agency of God, has come to share in a life that is no longer limited by death? What factors played a role in the origin of the belief in Jesus' resurrection? This article shows that Ratzinger too strongly emphasises continuity between the historical Jesus and a number of New Testament Christologies and the way in which they were crystallised in later ecclesiastical dogmatic formulations. <![CDATA[<b>The Letter of Jude and Graeco-Roman Invective</b>]]> Many have attempted to identify the opponents in Jude and have addressed the manner in which the author characterises this group. Moreover, scholars have expended considerable energy on the analysis and explication of Jude's rhetorical structure and style, and there is wide consensus that as a text, Jude is a sophisticated letter. However, less work has attended to the evaluation of Jude within the tradition of Graeco-Roman invective. In comparing verses from Jude to some examples from such literature, we find similar themes. In particular, the letter of Jude and some Graeco-Roman moralists engage in a particular tactic to undermine, even destroy, the character of their opponents. They both present them as effeminates, which, although a stereotype, is one of the worst insults a writer or orator could wage against an adversary. This article argues that Jude engages in such character assassination, invoking effeminacy in the manner that he describes his opponents' behaviour, and placing them in a long line of debauched and condemned figures from ages past. <![CDATA[<b>Violence and Human Prayer to God in Q 11</b>]]> The present article examines the use of κρούω in Q 11:9 against the backdrop of documentary papyri and Greek literary texts that employ the verb to evoke a stock scene of aggression and threat at the door of a house. In the unit 11:2-4, 9-13 the Sayings Gospel employs the same language and gestures in a similar rhetorical situation to advance a complex and ambiguous representation of human agency in prayer, which is not conceived as a mere passive expectancy of God's intervention. This representation fits the socio-cultural profile of village scribes as the authors of Q, given their familiarity with administrative terminology and their acquaintance with widespread and simple rhetorical tropes. Moreover, such an ambiguous stance towards human agency is mirrored in Q's similarly complex understanding of human participation in the establishment of God's βασιλεία. Finally, comparable thematic and linguistic features have been detected in the 'parable of the friend at midnight' (Lk 11:5-8), strengthening the hypothesis that the parable might have been part of the Sayings Gospel. <![CDATA[<b>Matthew, memory theory and the New No Quest</b>]]> This article explores the effects of cognitive and social memory theory on the quest for the historical Jesus. It is not the case that all memory is hopelessly unreliable, but it is the case that it commonly is. Memory distortion is disturbingly common, and much worse, there is no way to distinguish between memories of actual events and memories of invented events. The Gospel of Matthew was used to illustrate this very difficulty. This article also draws attention to the fact that although numerous criteria have been developed, refined and used extensively in order to distinguish between original Jesus material and later church material, those criteria have long been unsatisfactory, and most recently, because of the effects of thinking about memory theory and orality, have been revealed to be bankrupt. Since memory theory shows that people are unable to differentiate accurate memory from inaccurate and wholly invented memory, and since the traditional quest criteria do not accomplish what they were intended to, this article argues that scholarship about Jesus has been forced into a new no quest. <![CDATA[<b>Union with the transcendent God in Philo and John’s Gospel </b>]]> This article analyses the experience of divine presence within an intimate divine-human relationship, as conceptualised in Philo's writings, and compares this experience with mystical passages in John's Gospel. The article explains their understanding of God and how the union with a transcendent God is mediated. The article investigates this union in terms of an underlying mystical pattern that existed in the 1st century CE. The pattern explains similarities of Philo's works with John's Gospel that indicates the former's mystical nature. Special attention is given to Philo's accounts because his own mystical experiences and views are relatively unknown in New Testament scholarship, whilst John's Gospel is compared to show how this pattern existed within a Jewish-Christian setting. After an introduction to the relevance of mysticism in contemporary research on Philo and John, the article, without trying to establish any genetic link between Philo and John, evaluates the understanding of mystical union in the light of Philo's own mystical experience and pronouncements. Then follows a discussion of Philo's understanding of the divine longing for union with humanity despite the divine transcendence, with attention to the direct and indirect manner in which this union is mediated. Finally, similar motifs in John's Gospel are investigated. <![CDATA[<b>Between the Spirit and the Word: Reading the Gendered African Pentecostal Bible</b>]]> This article reviews the gendered Pentecostal Bible as documented by various researchers. It assesses how the prophetic-spirit framework encounters and functions within the framework of the inerrant but patriarchal written word. The Spirit framework is an oral canon that opens spaces of gender empowerment. Yet Pentecostal scholars problematise the supposedly liberating Spirit, highlighting that it sometimes denies the materiality of human existence and inhabits the constraining parameters of patriarchal church structures. The article suggests that in addition to the Spirit-Word framework, new Pentecostal theological categories, such as healing and deliverance and the prosperity gospel need to be investigated for the new spaces they open for gender justice. 'The authority of the Bible as the word of God, and the experience of the Holy Spirit form two of the most important sources of Pentecostal theology' (Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu 2004:390). <![CDATA[<b>Reading Matthew by the Dead Sea: Matthew 8:5-13 in Light of P. Yadin 11</b>]]> The archive of the Judean woman Babatha, with its 35 legal papyri in Aramaic and Greek (P. Yadin 1-35), which was hidden by her in a cave on the western side of the Dead Sea in 135 CE and rediscovered in 1961, offers unique insights into the social world of the region from 94-132 CE. This is because legal documents reflect significant opportunities and challenges in people's lives and frequently bring to the surface underlying social issues and pressures. Babatha's documents, which reflect lively interactions between Judeans, Nabateans and Romans across a wide range of situations, do precisely this. They allow us better to understand the context in which New Testament texts appeared and how they made sense to their original audiences. Matthew's Gospel, with its strong interest in Judean/non-Judean relationships, is particularly susceptible to such treatment. In this article, P. Yadin 11, a remarkable document in Greek from 124 CE recording a loan of 60 denarii from a Roman centurion stationed at En-gedi to Babatha's second husband, is analysed for what it reveals about likely understandings of centurions in that setting. The findings of this investigation are then applied to Matthew 8:5-13 in the interests of a socially realistic interpretation. <![CDATA[<b>Crucifixion at Qumran</b>]]> When the last texts of Qumran cave 4 were published, another text that refers to crucifixion came to the fore, namely 4Q524 14:1-6, part of which is verbatim the same as 11QTª 64:6-13. Both texts add to the Pentateuchal text by giving the reason why persons were hanged. Therefore I will compare these two texts with each other, but also with their Pentateuchal parallels Deuteronomy 21:18-23, 22:1-2 and 22:11. I will attempt to explain the differences against the social text, by studying the crucifixion and/or hanging practices of neighbouring cultures (social text) and by reading these two texts against the fragmented text of 4QpNahum 3-4 I:7-8, which is a Qumran text that deals with execution. <![CDATA[<b>The 'complete gospel' revisited: Middle East and African influences</b>]]> The author focuses on the historically-reliable gospel pericopes in which a woman is the lead character. She argues that these women provide the complete gospel -Jesus teaches, heals, preaches and is anointed in the context of female-based stories and, of course, the women take him from conception to resurrection. Jackson argues, not only from an analysis of the texts themselves, but also from her personal experiences in the Middle East and Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Dressing down criminals, deviants and other undesirables</b>]]> Fear of just censure and the sense of shame it produced kept Roman citizens from doing wrong (Cic. Rep. 5.6). Invective functioned socially as a strategy of social sanction. One amongst a number of commonly identified topics of accusation in the Roman tradition of ridicule was unusual appearance, clothing or demeanour. Not surprisingly, John the Baptist emerges from the desert attired distinctly, demoniacs come out of the tombs so fierce that no one would pass by them (Mt 8:28), a man with an unclean spirit lives amongst the tombs and, even though adorned with fetters and chains, cannot be controlled (Mk 5:15-20). Herod pretentiously puts on the royal robes and is eaten by worms and dies (Ac 12:21). A woman uninvited enters a rich man's dinner party with an alabaster flask of perfume and anoints the feet of Jesus (Lk 7:38). Clearly, in each case, unusual appearance, clothing, and demeanour suggest a lapse from the appropriate, socially acceptable style of deportment and clothing. Oddities in dress and demeanour were equated with oddities in behaviour and provided a powerful rhetorical means of excluding undesirables from society. <![CDATA[<b>The structure and homogeneity of Psalm 32</b>]]> Psalm 32 is widely regarded as a psalm of thanksgiving with elements of wisdom poetry intermingled into it. The wisdom elements are variously explained as having been present from the beginning, or as having been added to a foundational composition. Such views of the Gattung have had a decisive influence on the interpretation of the psalm. This article argues, on the basis of a structural analysis, that Psalm 32 should be understood as a homogeneous wisdom composition. The parallel and inverse structure of its two stanzas demonstrate that the aim of its author was to encourage the upright to foster an open, intimate relationship with Yahweh in which transgressions are confessed and Yahweh's benevolent guidance on the way of life is wisely accepted. <![CDATA[<b>Is Matthew 28:16-20 the summary of the Gospel?</b>]]> It is generally acknowledged that the Great Commission at the end of Matthew's Gospel is a dramatic and fitting end to the evangelist's narrative. In the eyes of many scholars this final pericope does more than simply conclude the Gospel; it serves as a summary of the text's major themes and even provides the interpretative key by which the earlier story should be read. This view, however, is questionable for two reasons. Firstly, the Great Commission introduces new themes and motifs into the Gospel story, which means that it cannot be viewed as a mere summary of what has come before. Secondly, this passage does not mention all the major themes of the Gospel. While some important motifs are included in the final pericope, there are others that receive no mention at all. This point too casts considerable doubt on the view that Matthew 28:16-20 serves to summarise Matthew's story of Jesus. Moreover, the Great Commission, despite recalling a number of earlier themes, looks more towards the time of the future Church than back to the time of 'the historical Jesus'. It is therefore better viewed as a bridging text that concludes one Christian story about the mission of Jesus and introduces another story about the history of the Church. <![CDATA[<b>'Look, the place where they put him' (Mk 16:6): The space of Jesus' tomb in early Christian memory</b>]]> The tomb of Jesus posed two main problems for early Christians: firstly, the earliest memory of the tomb seems to recall it as the site of the dishonourable burial of a man executed as an enemy of the Roman imperial system; and secondly, the narrative of the empty tomb stood for several reasons in an ambiguous relationship to the announcement of the resurrection. Yet within three centuries, that 'place' had been rehabilitated both architecturally and ritually (memorialised together with the site of the crucifixion) as 'sacred space' in the Church of the Resurrection (the typical Eastern designation for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). For discussion, see Morris 2005:33-34). By about 380 CE, Cyril of Jerusalem could thus pronounce this place 'the very centre of the world' (Cat. 13.28). The present article argues that 'the place where they put him' was not originally venerated as 'sacred space', but rather was remembered as a place of shame; and also describes several different narrative and theological strategies, introduced in the canonical gospels and interpreted by early Christian readers, that changed how the tomb of Jesus was remembered and that allowed for it eventually to be regarded as 'sacred space'. <![CDATA[<b>Robertson's century: The reception and impact of an epoch-making grammar of the Greek New Testament</b>]]> The author endeavours, firstly, to present a vivid account of the reception that A.T. Robertson's A grammar of the Greek New Testament in the light of historical research found in scholarly circles when first published (in 1914) and during the ensuing years; secondly, to probe the question whether, during the course of the past century, the renown of both the man and the book has outlasted the scientific value and the actual utilisation of 'Robertson' in New Testament commentaries and scholarly publications; and thirdly, to address a few grammatical points stated by Robertson that seem to have gone unchallenged despite major shifts affecting the study of language generally, and New Testament Greek specifically, since the publication of his Grammar. <![CDATA[<b>The rhetorical analysis of the Letter to Philemon in the light of John Chrysostom 's homilies about this letter</b>]]> The study of Paul's Letter to Philemon benefitted from the renewed interest in the rhetorical analysis of New Testament writings in recent times, in the sense that a large number of rhetorical studies of the letter have been published. These rhetorical analyses of the letter have been done from various perspectives, but until now no one has systematically investigated the way in which John Chrysostom interpreted the letter rhetorically in his three 'Homilies on Philemon'. Accordingly, the study offers a detailed investigation of this issue. It is shown that John Chrysostom identified several important rhetorical aspects that have been neglected by modern scholars - aspects which could be used to enhance current interpretations of the rhetoric of the letter. <![CDATA[<b>Chrysostom's reception of Luke 19:8b (the declaration of Zacchaeus)</b>]]> This article investigates the reception of Luke 19:8b in the works of Chrysostom. The ambiguous nature of Luke 19:8b in its Lukan context provides a glimpse into Chrysostom's thoughts on this passage. In asking the question of how Chrysostom viewed Zacchaeus's salvation to be effected (cf. the direct speech of Jesus in Luke 19:9−10), the article demonstrates that Chrysostom's consistent concern, wherever reference to Luke 19:8b is made, is with adequate compensation to people who have been wronged. The article also points out how Chrysostom did not shy away from making slight changes to the biblical narrative to convey this message. <![CDATA[<b>The harvest and the kingdom: An interpretation of the Sower (Mk 4:3b-8) as a parable of Jesus the Galilean</b>]]> This article attempts to read the parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3b-8) as a parable of the historical Jesus. In this reading, the focus is different from almost all previous interpretations of the parable. It is proposed that the Sower should not be understood in terms of realistic agricultural practices in 1st century Palestine, but in terms of the realism of the political, social and economic world in which the parable is told by Jesus. The conclusion reached is that the parable asks its first hearers to align themselves with the kingdom of God, and describes what the results of this decision can be. In a world with little choice, the parable gives a vision on how to cope in an exploitative world. <![CDATA[<b>Messianic and Christological interpretation in Išô`Dâdh of Merw's Commentary on Ezekiel</b>]]> In agreement with his East Syriac heritage, Išô`dâdh's commentary on Ezekiel does not contain any direct messianic interpretations. There are, however, interpretations that link the text to Christ or are of importance for Išô`dâdh's Christology. As far as Christology is concerned, his interpretation of Ezekiel 1:27-28 is important, where he rejects interpretations related to the two natures of Christ. The interpretation of Theodoret of Cyrus is especially relevant in this regard, but also others, such as Gregory. In addition to this, in some instances Išô`dâdh sees a double meaning in a text or a typological reference. These texts receive attention in this paper, with special attention to Išô`dâdh's exegesis of Ezekiel 1 and 47. In his interpretation of Ezekiel 1, he looks in the first place at the time of the prophet, for example in referring to different interpretations of the living creatures and their faces, such as the four regions of the world, the four seasons, the four elements or kings of Babylonia, of the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks. It can, however, also refer to Christ, with the four creatures representing the Gospels. The river of Ezekiel 47 is also linked to the dispensation of the New Testament. These texts are studied in detail in this paper, especially in comparison to the interpretation of Theodoret. <![CDATA[<b>Crossing over; taking refuge: A contrapuntal reading</b>]]> In this article, I undertake a contrapuntal reading (a type of reading developed within postcolonial studies) engaging the Gospel of Matthew and the current global and local contexts of migration. The work demonstrates the mode and the significance of such readings and ways in which the approach could be brought to bear in a range of contemporary contexts and in relation to any number of current global and local issues. <![CDATA[<b>The crucifixion of consumerism and power and the resurrection of a community glimpsed through Meylahn's wounded Christ in conversation with Rowling's Christ discourse in the <i>Harry Potter</i> series</b>]]> Like some fantasies (including Lord of the rings and the Chronicles of Narnia), the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling makes a social comment on a particular dominant discourse within a particular sociocultural context. One of Rowling's social comments is the dehumanising and fragmenting effect of the power and consumerist discourse in Western society - where great value is placed on what a person owns. An example of this theme in the series is the characters of the Dursleys, as prime examples of 'Muggles'. Although it is not power that Muggles seek, but rather to fit in by having what the Jones' have, which fits in well with the capitalist discourse as developed by Lacan - as discussed by Meylahn. Rowling juxtaposes this discourse with the alternative sacred story of the Christ discourse (community and fellowship are more important than material possessions), that she has subtly woven into her narrative. This alternative discourse challenges adolescents' identity and spirituality by offering the Christ discourse as an alternative discourse to the dominant discourse of consumerism and power they live in. In his article, 'Holistic redemptive pastoral ministry in the fragmented transit hall of existence', Meylahn (2010) speaks of a 'wounded Christ' healing a 'wounded community' and this ties in well with the Christ discourse presented by Rowling. Meylahn gives us a useful hermeneutical tool to interpret the actions of some of Rowling's characters. Hence, Meylahn's 'wounded Christ', will be brought into conversation with the actions of some of Rowling's characters. By bringing Rowling into conversation with Meylahn, pastors and youth workers are presented with an ideal tool to help guide adolescents towards a more spiritual life that is not bound to the dehumanising discourse of consumerism and power. <![CDATA[<b>The lived theology of the <i>Harry Potter</i> series</b>]]> This article will argue that the recent turn towards lived theology or religion in practical theology can offer a useful hermeneutic to interpret the impact of the Harry Potter series on the spiritual formation and identity creation of adolescents. In practical theology there has been a turn towards lived theology or religion as lived religion has moved out of institutions into social-cultural phenomena as people seek to find meaning and purpose for their lives in alternative places to institutionalised religion. <![CDATA[<b>Resilience as answer to the problem of church schism</b>]]> The article investigates theories of resilience as applied to individuals and groups. From a group perspective, the potential of and obstacles to resilience are examined against the backgound of post-apartheid South Africa. Individual perpetrators and victims, as well as corporate bodies such as institutionalised faith communities have been affected. For the liberation of South Africa's wounded soul, resilience is needed. In the article, psychological dimensions of resilience theory are brought into dialogue with the theological hermeneutical model of Ernst Fuchs in order to show how an encounter with the Jesus narrative of care for wounded people can foster resilience, liberate and bring healing to both faith communities and to this predominantly religious country. <![CDATA[<b>Tendencies in film hermeneutics</b>]]> Hollywood is synonymous with the tradition of images that are used to create emotion, to strengthen attachment, and to encourage imitation. In a certain sense these values are also encouraged by the church as institution. Scholars who study the connection between cinematography and theology acknowledge that the cinema has become the 'principal new church' for post-secularised believers. Films are regarded among the 'big books' of 'postmodern culture'. In this article it is argued that film hermeneutics should be regarded as an epistemological movement which has departed from a typographical culture, including logocentrism, phonocentrism, and text-focused cognition. The movement is towards a visual culture, including audiovisual and virtual realities, and is contextualised in a cyber-community. Tendencies in films with biblical and religious dimensions and themes, including the way in which the Christ figure is portrayed, are discussed. In this article the value of film hermeneutics - that is, the 'textuality of the screen' - as public theology, is also identified. <![CDATA[<b>Empathy for the psychological underdog: A positive psychological approach to Luke's Gospel</b>]]> Taking the lead from Wisdom of Solomon 7:20, which clearly indicates that ancient authors did engage in the specialised 'scientific' (although contemporary) study of mental processes (διαλογισμοὺς ἀνθρώπων), it is argued that the author of Luke's Gospel paid special attention to the alleviation of human psychological suffering. Employing an approach recently being labelled as 'positive psychology', attention will be paid to general affliction (e.g. Lk 4:18; 6:21, 25), old age (Lk 1:5−80; 2:25−38), grief (e.g. Lk 7:11−17) and the emphasis on mental processes in Luke's portrayal of Jesus' exorcisms (e.g. Lk 4:35; 6:18−19; 9:38), as well as the psychological dimension involved in other types of suffering (e.g. poverty, sickness, enmity and social ostracism). The 'mental process', 'feelings' or 'empathy' that motivate the alleviation of suffering (in the behaviour of Jesus and his followers) will also come into focus in the discussion of the Lucan use of the terms οἰκτίρμων (Lk 6:36), ἔλεος and σπλαγχνίζομαι (e.g. Lk 10:33, 37). <![CDATA[<b>Behind the numbers are believers, congregations and the church, a practical theological reflection on membership</b>]]> Churches, especially mainline churches, reported the past few years a decline in their membership numbers. This trend of declining membership deserves attention and asks for a practical theological reflection. Behind the declining statistics are believers, congregations and churches that should be part of a broader reflection. Membership not only describes a static and geographic relationship, it can also be described as dynamic and fluid. The purpose of this article is to discuss this declining trend of church membership from a practical theological perspective. This phenomenon is discussed for the church in general and then the specific situation of the Dutch Reformed Church is described in more depth. The latest Church mirror data (an empirical survey in the DRC) is used as a quantitative lens. Against this background it is clear that the relationship between member and congregation exists within a dynamic and changing context, which can no longer be described in simplistic terms. Membership should be seen as a fluid and variable concept that describes the relationship with the congregation. The challenge is to develop a new ecclesiology with new terms and metaphors to describe this relationship. <![CDATA[<b>A narrative of church life today</b>]]> We live in a time when survival seems to be the biggest concern of most mainline congregations and denominations. How can the church possibly survive? This is a question that is asked in almost every corner of the institution. Since the 1960s, numerous books and articles have been published, trying to get a handle on why the mainline churches are in decline. Whatever the cause may be, decline is causing great fear and anxiety in the mainline churches. In an effort to answer the underlying question: 'What shall we do to turn the situation around?', some churches are simply trying to 'market' themselves and their message. Others try to 'do' church differently. Some try to rediscover the purpose of the church, et cetera. Cheryl Peterson argues that churches are, in fact, facing an ecclesial crisis, that is much more than a crisis of declining numbers and membership. There is a deeper and more basic issue that must be explored, one that has to do with the church's theological identity, and that is: what it means to be church? This article is about the question: Who is the church? And it answers the question on the basis of Peterson's thesis by means of a narrative of the church that commences with the Spirit. <![CDATA[<b>The Missional congregation in the South African context</b>]]> The term missional has come into use over the last years in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and the Department of Science of Religion and Missiology of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria. This term refers to the role of the local congregation in the local community or communities and is used with, or in the place of, the term missionary, which traditionally referred to the sending out of a missionary to some or other place. The use of the term missional includes specific views on the goal of mission, what mission is and how it should be done. In this article it is argued that this approach can be seen as a new wave of mission within the South African context, and that it is related to developments in many parts of the global church. <![CDATA[<b>Family ministry in a postmodern church</b>]]> The aim of the article is to reflect on the necessity for family ministry in the church today, and to explore different models and methods for doing it. This article must be understood against the backdrop of the challenges facing mainline churches, of which the decline in numbers, the lack of support for programmes and initiatives on behalf of families, and the apparent inability to minister effectively to young people, are the most pressing. Since the early church there has been a close relationship between church and home. Not only did rituals and liturgies spill from the gathered congregation into homes; metaphors from family life also provided images and language to the early church. In the last few decades there has been a rekindled interest in the home as the primary incubator for faith formation. Several books, articles, organisations, programs, consultants and churches have described their approach as 'family ministry'. From a practical-theological viewpoint, there must be a set of criteria by which these approaches could be evaluated. This article aims to contribute in this regard, and to critique different approaches to family ministry. <![CDATA[<b>The 'political society' of the governed? Marginalia beyond 'marginalisation'</b>]]> Between the sphere of civil society associated with the idea of active, democratic citizenship, and the governance of precariously living populations 'in most of the world' (i.e. not simply 'in the margins'), lies the domain, famously outlined by Partha Chatterjee, of 'the political society of the governed'. This article investigates the concept of 'the political society of the governed', starting with its current definition, social and political contexts and a conceptual history. The article then proceeds to problematise the corollary of a bio-political 'governmentality from below', theoretically questioning the extent of its capacity to inform political agency, and practically examining the forms of such political agency, with special reference to studies on insurgent citizenship in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Towards restoration of human identity: Practical theology exploring possibilities of re-imagining the discourse of reconciliation and social cohesion in South Africa</b>]]> 'Social cohesion' is a concept that many researchers agree is not easily defined. However, all definitions do agree that it is about a combination of processes. In this article I have adopted the Jenson definition (1998:4), as 'a process of developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunities within South Africa, based on trust, hope, and reciprocity among all South Africans'. Through this process the restoration of human identity will emerge out of the fragmentation caused by the apartheid government before the new democratic order of 1994. It is the aim of the new government to engage in this process (Cloete & Kotze 2009:43), with the result that many of those with broken human identities are beginning to participate in the developing new order. I have also chosen to explore transversal discourses in this article. These discourses favour an interdisciplinary approach. They allow different disciplines to have conversations without assimilation, and, while rooted in their own belief systems, they are still capable of sharing with others. In South Africa, we come from different backgrounds, but our backgrounds should have no power to keep us apart or locked in our own prisons. The article follows the tenets of postfoundationalist practical theology, and is based in the interdisciplinary paradigm. It promotes reflection on the 'presence of God' without using force, or judging those who do not share my faith. In this approach all voices receive equal treatment: participants are free to say what they believe and to express themselves openly; it also means theologians can participate freely in the debate on social cohesion. This is a never-ending journey; each one of us must play our role and never give up. <![CDATA[<b>An economic system that crushes the poor</b>]]> The article focuses on economic structures that crush the poor, especially global economic structures that trap and keep people in poverty. The concept of poverty occupies centre stage in South Africa and many other developing countries. There is no longer a middle class. One is either rich or poor. Globalisation has created a system or program that continues to crush the poor, while also breeding greed and selfishness. The rich always accumulate resources while the poor struggle to make ends meet. These problems are created by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and Structural Adjustment Programs, to name a few. These structures have introduced a system of inequality that widens the gap between the rich and the poor because of self-interest, which continues to crush the latter. The end result is that the concept of Ubuntu or Botho among African communities is destroyed. Injustice becomes the order of the day. <![CDATA[<b>The local church as a non-governmental organisation in the fight against poverty: A historical overview of Bethulie 1933-1935</b>]]> Poverty is one of the greatest threats to society. In South Africa it is also one of the biggest challenges. This article starts with the challenges put to society by Mr Trevor Manuel at the Carnegie 3 conference. It then explores the possibility of if and how the church can act as a non-governmental organisation in the fight against poverty. A historical overview of the actions of Rev. E.P. Groenewald, during the drought of 1933-1934 in the Dutch Reformed Church Bethulie, serves as a case study of how the church can make a difference. It, however, also illustrates the many pitfalls on this challenging road. The article comes to the conclusion that the main challenge of the church in the fight against poverty is to act as a non-governmental organisation, which transforms values and assists society with good organisation and administration.