Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Acta Theologica]]> vol. 41 num. lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Preface and Interviews</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Introduction</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Transforming the study of religious situations: The view of post-secular society theories</b>]]> This article considers the methodology of post-secular society theories for application to research on religion. Several issues of present sociological methodology are associated with the secular discourse that divides society into subsystems and represents religion as one of them. Such an approach does not consider the role of non-institutional forms of religion, religious ideas, and moods of individuals in forming the religious situation. The discourse emerging from theories of the post-secular society, which recognise the transformation of the place of religion in the public sphere at the beginning of the 21st century, views the contradictory unity of religious and secular moments in any social phenomenon. This transforms the established scientific approach to the study of religion with concepts of post-secular society theories. This article defines the principal characteristics of the post-secular model of religious situations compared to the principles of the secular model. <![CDATA[<b>The transformative role of the media in the formation of virtuous citizens: A contribution to reconciliation in a post-apartheid South Africa</b>]]> The significant role that the media played during the apartheid years in South Africa is staggering. Abundant evidence suggests that, during those years, the print media served as instruments for propaganda, for the apartheid regime, while the Argus group, for instance, exposed the atrocities and human rights violations of the same regime. However, 24 years into democracy, what is the role of the media in a post-apartheid South Africa, where citizens still suffer from the ghosts of apartheid, the continued human rights violations, racial discrimination, and related issues that make it seem as if South Africa is "irreconcilable"? This question will be addressed by drawing from a recent study conducted by the author that has demonstrated the role of newspapers in moral formation as a positive perspective on the media in the process of reconciliation. The author argues that the print media play their role through their articulation of a good society, through regular reporting on issues related to reconciliation, which can be regarded as an exercise in vigilance to help their readers identify, and address immoral behaviour that may impede achieving reconciliation. Through such reporting, the audience could become virtuous people that will serve as assets in the process and journey for reconciliation in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>The role of religion and spirituality in transforming society</b>]]> The role religions play in social transformation is ambiguous. Many wars have been fought, with religion as instigator and motivator. Even so, religions have, over centuries, constantly called out against violence and oppression and motivated the search for peace. Some religious leaders famously fought against apartheid, while others expressed support and legitimated apartheid. The question beckons as to why religion should be burdened with the task of transforming society. Is religion best equipped for this task? Is there no other social institution capable of performing this task? This study presents three potential motivations why religion should participate in social transformation, namely religion is best equipped to bring about social transformation; religion is least equipped to bring about social transformation, and spirituality as an alternative to religion as transformation catalyst. This study wants to understand what transformation is and what role religion can play in contributing to social transformation. To achieve this, a clear understanding of the difference between religion and spirituality is necessary. This study uses the method of critical analysis of available literature on the topic. <![CDATA[<b>Conceptualising religion in the 21st century: Examining the proposal of Mark C. Taylor in <i>After God</i></b>]]> This article summarises and evaluates Mark C. Taylor's theory of religion as presented in After God. Taylor redescribes religion as an emergent, complex, adaptive network - a term he adopts from the biosciences and physics. Such networks operate as non-totalising wholes. They are co-dependent and co-evolve. It follows that everything is related and there are no absolutes. Taylor points to the co-determination of religion and secularity as well as theology and theory in the West. Such networks are also self-organising and self-maintaining. As open systems, they thrive at the edge of chaos. Hence, Taylor rejects any closed, rigid system of neo-foundationalism as found in our postmodern, globalised world. For Taylor, there are no solid grounds; there is only creative emergence, from which reality is figured and disfigured in an oscillating interplay. The article closes by pointing out some inconsistencies in Taylor's own application of religion as complex adaptive system. Due to these inconsistencies, Taylor falls short of offering a constructive role for contemporary religious traditions and communities. <![CDATA[<b>In search of values. Reading <i>The Hunger Games </i>in an African context</b>]]> "We have lost our moral compass" is a frequently uttered lament among the ranks of the veteran members of the African National Congress. The refusal to shame a comrade-in-arms is the real discordant note in South African politics. In attempting to give shape to the present situation, this article takes up two quite different studies of shame and honour. Brown's (2016) study of honour in the USA provides the lens for a shame and honour reading of Suzanne Collins' (2008-2010) The hunger games trilogy. Brown and Collins, in different ways, point out the dark side of an honour-based society: the neglect of women and children, and the problem of male violence. The hero of the trilogy, Katniss Everdeen, experiences the pull of the Empire's values of honour and empire, and yet finds space to push back against its more brutal aspects. In the space-between, like the Jesus of the Gospels, she creates an empathetic and altruistic zone that fosters the dignity of voiceless servants and people such as Rue, a vulnerable teenager. <![CDATA[<b>The promise of attending to literary context for contextual biblical hermeneutics in Africa</b>]]> For important reasons, African contextual hermeneutics raises the main question: "What does the Scripture mean to us and our community?". This article asserts that the reader-centred approach tends to allow the voice of the community to ring louder than the voice of Scripture. Repercussions can include a limited role of Jesus Christ and a heightened role of material prosperity in some African expressions of Christian faith. The article argues that contextual hermeneutics needs to make room for the inductive analysis of biblical texts, especially their literary contexts. The heart of a combined inductive and contextual approach is inviting readers to a dialogue between text and context, asking questions that help them use literary context to observe the main aims, themes, and lines of thought of passages of Scripture, and that foster a deep identification between biblical texts and the readers' context. <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19 pandemic as a socio-psychological influence on transformations in religion</b>]]> This article aims to establish COVID-19's socio-psychological influence on religion. This interdisciplinary study's theoretical framework embraces the social-ecological systems framework, the concept of deprivation, the theory of religious myth-making, religious individualism and bricolage, as well as the concept of quality of life. A sociological survey was conducted of 4,700 residents of Moscow and the Moscow region. The results revealed that the social sphere of society was relatively stable during the pandemic. Exploring COVID-19's socio-psychological influence, this study examines transformations in religion that resulted from tactile deprivation. <![CDATA[<b>Christianity in Transformation: The rise of African Christianity among the <i>AmaXhosa </i>of the Eastern Cape</b>]]> This article explores the roots and expansion of African Christianity - that is, the synthesis of Christianity and African Traditional Religion among the amaXhosa tribes of the Eastern Cape. This form of synthesis appears to have been an age-old problem of the Christian church, beginning with the missionary epoch, and up to contemporary times, and it is still not acknowledged. It appears that conservative Christians, in particular, undermine this realism. Reflecting on the character and life of Ntsikana, who was both a Xhosa Christian prophet and a diviner, this article debates the acceptance of African Christianity by indigenous converts as a way of transforming or contextualising Christianity to communicate with the African religious heritage. Using a qualitative research approach, in the form of document analysis, the article found that African Christianity among the AmaXhosa of the Eastern Cape has existed for a long time and has become an acceptable form of expression in transforming Christianity to communicate with the African cultural context. <![CDATA[<b>Tradition of reform as reform of tradition: some considerations on the relation of religion and reform</b>]]> This article begins by questioning the commonly held assumption that tradition is fixed and does not change over time. Reform, which is all about introducing change and bringing newness, must be opposed to tradition. In light of recent scholarly discussion, this article suggests that tradition is a dynamic concept. As traditions undergo constant revision and amendment, the article takes a renewed look at the relationship between reform and tradition. The concept "reform" is understood as a means of change with recourse to the past. Reform, it is argued, while currently more of a highly metaphorical and no less normative concept, proves to be a structural moment of tradition insofar as reform is related to tradition and tradition to reform. This insight is then combined with a reflection on the concept of "invention" with regard to tradition. It is argued that invention is an inherent moment in the structure of tradition. To demonstrate the relationship between reform and tradition, three short case studies are developed, in which the recourse to traditions in reforms turns out to be an innovation and an invention of tradition. These three examples are the Josianic reform in 2 Kings 22-23, Ezra's reading of the Torah in Nehemiah 8, and the renewal of YHWH worship in Samaria in 2 Kings 17. <![CDATA[<b>Re-interpretation as transformation. Perspectives and challenges for Old Testament interpretation<a href="#back_fn1">1</a></b>]]> This contribution explains that the re-interpretation of theological motifs or ideas leads to transforming theology and religion. This phenomenon takes place within the corpus and boundaries of the Old Testament. Inner-biblical debate or "later" texts that re-interpret "earlier" texts underscore this process and confirm a transformed theology that is relevant and life-giving for the "new" or "later" context. Because these processes happened within the range of a long history of development of Old Testament literature, the article first discusses important hermeneutical realities or directives for Old Testament interpretation. It then mentions a few approaches to, and challenges of interpreting Old Testament literature. Finally, it briefly portrays how the book of Ruth re-interpreted certain pentateuchal texts as an act of transforming theology. <![CDATA[<b>The recipient becoming a participant and the participant becoming a recipient: A strange encounter in 1 Kings 17 with a not so strange outcome</b>]]> A narrative in 1 Kings 17:1-16 tells of a strange encounter between two people of different backgrounds, one is a prophet of YHWH and the other is a dying widow. Dialogue brings them closer to each other in a mysterious way, causing them to change roles. In doing so, they come to realise that the trust they have for each other has an origin far deeper than they could imagine. <![CDATA[<b>Transformation in the Wisdom Books of the Hebrew Bible and its application to the context of Southern Africa</b>]]> This article deals with the transformation of theology and society through biblical wisdom. The first section explores the realms of wisdom and the relevance of king Solomon for the wisdom tradition. The second section shows how the books of Job and Proverbs transformed other parts of the Hebrew Bible. The third section explores the transformation of Southern African theology and society through the books of Job and Proverbs. The book of Job is viewed as a paradigm for HIV-positive people. The book of Proverbs is expounded upon with reflections on the ubuntu principle and the postcolonial-critical method Imbokodo. It is shown how folk sayings can be relevant for the transformation of South African university education and how biblical proverbs may transform folk proverbs. Finally, the article proposes that a secular society should be an enabler of different religious traditions. <![CDATA[<b>Jeremiah 31:31-34: A prospect of true transformation</b>]]> The theme of the transformation of reality is one of the unifying themes in Jeremiah 30-31. A past-future tension is notably present in 31:31-34, with the promise of a new covenant. This article considers the contrast between the new covenant pericope and the poetic doom oracles and the prose discourses in the book of Jeremiah. Since the book of Deuteronomy seemingly had a profound influence on the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is also read against the background of Deuteronomy. Allusions in Jeremiah 31:31-34 to these texts are especially significant. It is argued that these allusions demonstrate that the new covenant passage attained a distinct identity by the promise of a radical transformation. In addition, the application of Utopian literary theory suggests that Jeremiah's Utopian vision enflamed possibility and awakened emotional yearning for a better world. <![CDATA[<b>Embracing the Psalter's imprecatory words in the 21<sup>st</sup> century</b>]]> This article surveys the imprecatory words in the book of Psalms and examines and questions their place in the faith life of the third decade of the 21st-century world, one that is fraught with the impact of a global pandemic, political uncertainties, and racial injustices. The first section of the article examines the vitriolic words and sentiments found in the Psalter and in other places in the Old and New Testaments. It then suggests that we, as readers of these texts, in the words of Phyllis Trible, wrestle with such words and demand a blessing from them, much as Jacob did at the Jabbok with his mysterious wrestler. The second section of the article discusses various 20th- and 21st-century scholarly and ecclesial understandings of the Psalter's imprecatory words. Next, the article discusses the form and scriptural status of the Psalter's imprecatory words, emphasising the poetic and metaphoric characteristics of the Psalter's words. Finally, the article addresses the ethics and appropriation of the Psalter's imprecatory words in the 21st century. It concludes that, without the languages of absolute lament against injustice and violence that these biblical words provide, our dialogue with and our cries to God are empty and lifeless. <![CDATA[<b>"I will open my mouth in a parable": "History" and "metaphor" in the Psalms</b>]]> Metaphorical expression is profoundly transformative, both cognitively and theologically. However, not all metaphors are created equal, nor simplistically metaphorical in the strictest sense. Wheelwright (1962) identified two distinctive semantic movements in metaphor: epiphor and diaphor. Epiphor is the transference of a name to some other object, while diaphor works differently, creating meaning by juxtaposing the particulars of an old experience with new experiences, in order to transform despair to hope, lament to praise, complaint to trust. This article explores the semantic depth of the two ways in which metaphor functions, by investigating several historical references in the psalms with a view to understanding when history is history, when history is plainly metaphorical, and when history is best understood diaphorically. <![CDATA[<b>Transforming Presence: Seeing God's body in Books I and II of Psalms</b>]]> The Book of Psalms contains a significant amount of language and imagery related to the physical and sensing body of God. This article applies two questions to Books I and II of the Psalms. Related to God, what body language and imagery exist in these books? What might we make thereof? After a brief consideration of method, the article summarises the body language specific to God in Books I and II. Both books include several references to various parts of God's head and to God's arms, while there are fewer references to other body parts. Next, the article discusses the ways in which anthropomorphism may inform the reading of such language. Understanding the body and body language necessitates an understanding of the culture that produced the language. The references to God's head and hands in Psalms correspond to a broader ancient Israelite emphasis on God's communication and action. <![CDATA[<b>A transforming body: A post-exilic reading of Psalms 50 and 51 in the light of social norms communicated through the Leviticus sacrificial system and body imagery</b>]]> Although Psalms 50 and 51 do not share the same superscription (a Psalm of Asaph and a Psalm of David), they do share multiple images relating to the body and the cult. Situated between a collection of Korahite (42-49) and Davidic psalms (51-70[51-72]) in Book II of the Psalter (4272), Psalm 50 is considered to be part of the liturgy with a prophetic character. The psalm, with its strong focus on offering, brings about the renewal of Israel before God. Psalm 50 focuses on the community, while in Psalm 51, the focus is on the individual. In Psalm 51, body imagery becomes an essential part of describing the acts of purification, penitence and offering. Reading these Psalms in the light of social norms communicated through the Leviticus sacrificial system and body imagery, the body's renewal process (community and individual) before God becomes apparent.1 <![CDATA[<b>Paratextual framings of Psalm 72 and the shaping of interpretive possibilities</b>]]> This article focuses on how paratextual reframings of Psalm 72 have transformed the royal ideology in the psalm. After an initial overview of the core psalm (vv. 1-17), its paratexts are addressed one by one. First, it is noted how the doxology in verses 18-19 is added as a theological correction, creating a tension between the psalm proper and the paratext. It is then argued that verses 1 and 20 cast the psalm as David's prayer for Solomon. The effect of these paratextual activities is then traced over time, first in the Hebrew Bible, in Second Temple literature, in the New Testament, as well as in Christian and Jewish expositions. The article indicates various ways in which the tensions are resolved and how these interactions, in turn, generate new paratexts. <![CDATA[<b>Transformation of war language in the worship of all the earth in Psalm 100</b>]]> Though often read as a discrete poem, Psalm 100 is read within the context of Psalms 93-100 in this article. Such a reading helps expose how language, which had been rooted in warfare, has been transformed into the language of worship. The background in warfare is explored through intertextual links within this collection and then against the background provided by the book of Joshua as a sample text. As the conclusion to this collection within the Psalter, Psalm 100 transforms this language, so that Yahweh's kingship over all the earth is expressed not in the violence of conquest, but rather in the joyful submission of freely given worship. <![CDATA[<b>From desperation to adoration: Reading Psalm 107 as a transforming spatial journey</b>]]> Critical spatiality opens avenues to investigate the transforming power of the authors/redactors of the Hebrew Bible's spatial imagination. I read Psalm 107 as a spatial journey bridging the divide between the desperation of the exile and the longing of the Psalter's post-exilic authors/ redactors for Israel's complete restoration and the universal adoration of Yhwh. Psalm 107 plays a crucial role in the transition between Books IV (Pss. 90-106) and V (Pss. 107-145) and acts as a "bridge" between the desperation of the exile and the call to the universal adoration of Yhwh in the post-exilic period. Psalm 107 hints at a continuous transforming spatial journey between present realities and the longed-for eschatological establishment of a universal, divine kingdom.