Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Scriptura]]> vol. 116 num. lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Waiting for the Lord: the fulfilment of the promise of land in the Old Testament as a source of hope</b>]]> This article examines the fulfilment of the land promise in the OT as a source of hope. This is particularly significant in our contemporary context in which land has become a contested issue. The question this article asks is whether the fulfilment of the land promise in the OT can be a source of hope for communities in (South) Africa. In the process of dealing with the question, the article observes that there are different theological interpretations to the Abrahamic promise within the Bible. Premising its line of thought on this observation, the hypothesis is advanced that some theological interpretations render the fulfilment of the land promise a source of despair for some communities in South Africa while others make it a source of hope. Specifically, Ezra-Nehemiah represents the former and the Isaiah tradition, the latter. <![CDATA[<b>Seeing, sighing, signing - contours of a vulnerable homiletic</b>]]> In this article the many in-between spaces of paradox that characterise the society of South Africa, up to this day, are seen as liminal breeding grounds for what could be called a vulnerable homiletic. Three key concepts are discussed as being inherent to such a homiletic, namely seeing, sighing, and signing. These key concepts are exemplified by reference to sermons by former Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Desmond Tutu in particular. The article concludes with a reflection on an art work by South African artist Marco Cianfanelli. <![CDATA[<b>Religiosity in South Africa: trends among the public and elites</b>]]> This article uses statistical data from the World Values Survey (WVS) and the South African Opinion Leader Survey to examine religiosity among the following samples of South Africans: Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and isiZulu speaking Protestants, Catholics, African Independent Church (AIC) members and non-religious people (public and parliamentarians). We find that mainline Protestant churches have suffered a loss of members, thus changing the denominational face of the country. Additionally, although South Africans remain very religious, the importance of God in their lives has declined. For many people God is now less important although not unimportant. Parliamentarians appear unaffected by these changes: God is still highly important to members of parliament who profess Christianity (the majority). However, the small number of parliamentarians who are not religious now think God is unimportant. <![CDATA[<b>Refiguring Christ, the true vine: an exploration of an Εγώ</b> <b>είμι saying using Ricoeur's concept of 'metaphor'</b>]]> Paul Ricoeur's understanding of metaphorical language is of great importance in reflection of biblical hermeneutics, not the least when it comes to the parables of Jesus. This article first explores Ricoeur's conception of metaphor, and moves to apply it to the metaphor Jesus uses in the seventh Johannine "I am" saying (John 15:1-8). It is argued that the relevance of metaphor understood along the lines of Ricoeur lies therein that it draws focus to the necessity of creative and 'living' metaphor for proper speech about Christ, even though the 'thing' will always have yet another meaning. A condition for such metaphorical language is unpretentious knowledge of both the text and context of the metaphors applied to Christ in the New Testament - as well as those applied to the godhead in the Bible as a whole - and a firm understanding of the context of the contemporary reader. The aim is to sketch some lines for a metaphorical Christology that brings the Gospel close to believers today. <![CDATA[<b>Black theology and the black experience in the midst of pain and suffering amidst poverty</b>]]> Despite promises of a 'better life for all' millions of mainly black South Africans are subjected to pain and suffering as a result of poverty. This calls for black theological reflection in the light of their experience and the Gospel. This also calls for prophetic activism similar to that provided by some leaders during the struggle for liberation, who unfortunately either joined 'party politics' or the civil service or are now focusing only on preaching that is unrelated to the pain and suffering of the poor. The article argues for pastors, theologians and lay leaders with strong organic links with the masses and their organisations to engage in prophetic activism. <![CDATA[<b>An African philosophical analysis of Isaiah 58: a hermeneutic enthused by <i>Ubuntu</i></b>]]> African philosophy is a recognised field both in the Old Testament and philosophy studies in Africa. Jacobus W Gericke argues that "methodological and conceptual debates in African philosophy are things that biblical scholars can learn from when seeking to address the controversy regarding the relationship between the Hebrew Bible and philosophy". On the conceptual debates in African philosophy, Mogobe B Ramose holds that "Ubuntu is not only a word or a concept... On the contrary, Ubuntu is a lived and living philosophy of the Bantu-speaking peoples of Africa". It is argued in this article that African philosophy can shed light on the reading of the ancient biblical text in South Africa, particularly in relation to Ubuntu. First, this contribution examines African philosophy in South Africa with a view to conceptualise a hermeneutic enthused by Ubuntu based on a reading of Isaiah 58. Second, in this article the author attempts to re-construct the Sitz-im-Leben of Isaiah 58 in the light of African philosophy. <![CDATA[<b>The New Testament as political documents</b>]]> The political nature of the NT documents is carefully hidden away in the folds of a centuries-long tradition of Christianising and spiritualising the NT (and the Bible overall). The depoliticisation and demilitarisation of the NT works hand in glove with a long history of its dejudaising and equally long ghettoising of the Bible through narrow spiritual interpretation, obscuring or blurring its socio-political nature. <![CDATA[<b>Beware of the (Westernised) African eyes: rereading Psalm 82 through the <i>vhufa </i>approach</b>]]> This article argues that the African eyes through which we are called to reread the Bible need to be decolonised on two fronts: First, our being African and being socially located in Africa does not automatically imply that we read through African eyes, so we must beware of Westernised African eyes. Second, the current post-colonial environment still retains structures of coloniality which continually destabilise Africa, so we must beware of Westernised Africa. The failure to decolonise African eyes leads to the reduplication of Western-European environments in our African context and the perpetuation of coloniality in our current environment. This article suggests the vhufa approach to reading of Scripture as a way of overcoming coloniality and as a way of bringing African knowledge systems to shape the reading of the biblical text. This approach is applied to Psalm 82 to highlight how the vhufa approach can be applied to reading of the biblical text. <![CDATA[<b>Singing the psalms: applying principles of African music to Bible translation</b>]]> Psalms were composed to be sung, and translated psalms should also be carefully constructed so that they are easily singable. This requires an understanding of the features of (indigenous) song and rhythm. Towards that end, this article seeks to summarise some important principles of African (particularly Zulu) music, and indicates some errors made in the past by translators of biblical material to be sung. Then some examples are given from a recent study which attempted to apply these principles to the translation of some biblical Psalms into isiZulu. The hope is that sensitivity to such musical features will facilitate a translation that communicates all the aesthetic beauty, rhetorical power, and memorability of the original. <![CDATA[<b><i>(VHO) </i>Abel Mphagi - the barefoot native 'prophet' and 'evangelist' of Vendaland: a transition of indigenous belief systems and Christianity</b>]]> This article details Abel Mphagi's life, ministry and contribution to the growth and expansion of African indigenous Christianity in Vendaland. The article adopts a qualitative 'oral histories ' and 'oral traditions ' methodological approach. Snowball sampling techniques were used in identifying key informants from whom data were to be collected. Abel Mphagi was a freelance African indigenous Christian preacher who did mission work in the former Vendaland. His contribution to the growth and expansion of African indigenous Christianity in Vendaland remains obscured. This could be because Mphagi was never affiliated to any church group or even affiliated to the Western missionaries who were operating in Vendaland during his time of ministry. Lawrence Khorommbi located Mphagi' s grave site at Mphego Village where he was allegedly buried. This article has demonstrated that Mphagi' s contribution to the growth and expansion of African indigenous Christianity should receive more attention - especially in academia. Further study should be conducted to deal with certain identified gaps in Mphagi' s life and ministry which this article has failed to address sufficiently. <![CDATA[<b>A Star Was Born... About the bifocal reception history of Balaam</b>]]> Balaam counts among the most enigmatic characters within the Old Testament. Not everyone has the privilege of meeting an angel, and being addressed by a donkey. Moreover, the Biblical Balaam, as he is presented in Num. 22-24, has given rise to multiple interpretations: did the biblical authors want to narrate about a pagan diviner, who intended to curse the Israelites, but who was manipulated - against his will - by God in order to bless them, or was he rather considered to be a real prophet like Elijah or Isaiah? Anyway, that is at least the way he has been perceived by a segment of Christianity, considering him as one of the prophets who announced Jesus as the Christ? In the first section of this contribution, which I warmheartedly dedicate to Professor Hendrik 'Bossie' Bosman - we first met precisely twenty years ago during a research stay at Stellenbosch University in August 1997 - I will present the ambiguous presentation of Balaam that is given in Numbers 22-24 concisely. Secondly, I will concentrate on Balaam's presentation in the other books of the Bible. Being aware of the fact that the reception history of the Pentateuch is one of Bossie's fields of interest, in the last section I will show how the bifocal Biblical presentation of Balaam has left its traces on the reception of this personage in Christian arts. <![CDATA[<b>The 'fear of the Lord/God'in context of <i>The South Africa we pray for </i>campaign</b>]]> In the third year of my theological training I had lectures in wisdom literature by Professor Hendrik Bosman. Teaching the Book of Job, he lamented that communities mainly use this book at funerals to console families of deceased. This practice focuses on the prose section of the book; ignoring the poetry section which comprises thirty-nine chapters of the forty-two-chapter book. This may not be doing justice to the purpose of the book and wisdom literature in general. Therefore, if poetry occupies such an extent of the book, the message definitely lies therein and more attention needs to be paid thereto. In accordance with this spirit, he pointed out that the "fear of the Lord" is a key concept in wisdom. Against this background and in honour of Professor Bosman, this article would like to discuss the concept of the " fear of the Lord" in wisdom literature and how communities in South Africa can use the concept in dealing with their socio-economic challenges. Specifically, the paper would like to discuss the concept in the context of "The South Africa We Pray For" campaign in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Preaching the Pentateuch: reading Jeremiah's sermons through the lens of cultural trauma</b>]]> This article seeks to investigate the rhetorical function of Jeremiah's Temple, Covenant and Sabbath Sermons against the backdrop of cultural trauma. I propose that the three sermons found in Jeremiah 7, 11:1-14 and 17:19-27 provide a good illustration of what is understood under the notion of cultural trauma according to which one or more of the public intellectuals of the time seeks to offer an interpretative framework that is focused on making sense of the calamity that threatened to destroy not only the community itself, but also everything they regarded to be sacred and true. By means of these three sermons, Jeremiah is reminding the people of Judah once again of the important tenets of their faith such as the Temple, the Covenant and the Sabbath as found predominantly in the Pentateuch. By 'preaching' on Judah's earlier traditions, the prophet reconstitutes these ancient customs in a new way in an attempt to rebuild the fractured community. <![CDATA[<b>Is it not God's mercy that nourishes and sustains us ... forever? Some theological perspectives on entangled sustainabilities</b>]]> This essay explores the question whether and if so what contribution Christian systematic theology can make to contemporary discourse on sustainability and more specifically 'entangled sustainabilities'. It acknowledges that any such contribution would be deeply contested. It nevertheless suggests that one such contribution can lie in a critique of the underlying assumptions of discourse on sustainability and specifically any claims for ultimacy regarding whether, how and what it is that is supposed to be sustained. This critique is complemented by a constructive response on the basis of three classic aspects of faith in God's providence. Accordingly, it is God's mercy and therefore God's justice that nourishes and sustains us. This cannot be taken for granted though, as it depends upon a reading of the signs of the time, in rapidly changing circumstances. Any hope to find something that could endure and be sustained forever may well be heretical. <![CDATA[<b>Micah 4:1-5 and a Judean experience of trauma</b>]]> One should not underestimate the impact suffering has on a community. Therefore in biblical studies we are aware, more than ever before, of the impact traumatic events had on individuals and groups. Trauma studies have become an important part of the textual analysis as the exegete turns to potential markers of trauma in the literary prophecy of the HB. The aim of this article is, first of all, to give an overview of the development of trauma studies, as well the influence trauma studies had on Biblical Studies. Secondly, this article will reflect on trauma and experiences of trauma - especially collective trauma of a community - as portrayed in the book of Micah. This is illustrated by an analysis of Micah 4:1-5, a pericope that is part of a biblical book that seems to accentuate that restoration and transformation can only take place after judgement. <![CDATA[<b>The Maasai and the ancient Israelites: an early 20th century interpretation of the Maasai in German East Africa</b>]]> The idea that a certain ethnic or social group is historically related to the ancient Israelites is a widespread phenomenon in Africa. In some cases the identification is made from a 'we '-perspective about 'our' group, such as the Lembas in Zimbabwe and South Africa. In other cases it is made from a 'they '-perspective about 'their' group, such as Moritz Merker' s claim about the Maasai of East Africa. Merker served as a colonial officer in German East Africa, and his Die Masai: Ethnographische Monographie eines ostafrikanischen Semitenvolkes (1904, 1910²) is generally seen as the first ethnographic study of the Maasai, and as such it continues to receive attention. However, the ethnographic focus of the book is framed by a discussion about the past of the Maasai, arguing - with reference to contemporary German Assyriology and Biblical Studies - that they are a Semitic people originating in Arabia and sharing roots with the ancient Israelites. The article discusses Merker' s claim and argues that its central idea of a non-African background of the Maasai reflects Merker's colonial, interpretive context. <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 132 and its compositional context(s)</b>]]> Psalm 132 can be interpreted from various compositional contexts. In every new compositional context different nuances add value to the significance of the text. Psalm 132 can be interpreted as a single psalm, and as part of the Sire Hama 'alót psalms in smaller (130-134) or larger (120-134) collections. Finally the psalm can be understood as part of the theology and coherence of Book V (107-150) of the Psalter. The combination of Psalmen- and Psalterexegese therefore does not exclude each other, but they function complementarily. Both enrich the exegetical process and together they unveil the multiple theological perspectives connected to the different compositional contexts of a psalm. <![CDATA[<b>Where is wisdom to be found - now that we have stopped looking for it?</b>]]> Ancient scribal culture had two faces. After arduous and largely impractical training, scribes were admitted to an elite circle and became custodians of a cultural tradition. But scribal teachers were also credited with opening the eyes of their students and 'forming humanity' in them. Scribal writers created and challenged tradition. Both faces are still evident in modern 'scribal culture'. Nietzsche, who occupies an ambiguous position in this regard, is used to illuminate aspects of tension between the two 'faces', which, given the world situation, seems relevant to the future of the academic enterprise. Finally, it is suggested that ancient wisdom still has something to tell us about these matters. The article is dedicated to Hendrik Bosman in view of his abiding interest in scribal culture, wisdom literature and •—”— ••••. <![CDATA[<b>Historical understanding has a history</b>]]> This article is dedicated to Hendrik Bosman and to a certain extent it is the outcome of our many discussions about the historical understanding of the Old Testament. In this article it is argued that such an understanding comes a long way and that since the times of the Early Church scholars desired to understand texts within a historical context, but they lacked the knowhow. Only since the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, profound thinking about history began to shape Old Testament scholarship decisively. This is illustrated with reference to amongst others Gabler, Wellhausen and Gunkel. <![CDATA[<b>Reading Proverbs 7 in the context of female 'blessers' and sugar mamas in South Africa</b>]]> The image of a woman who is portrayed negatively in Proverbs 1-9, that is, Woman Stranger, has been engaged variously by Hebrew Bible scholarship, especially by feminist biblical scholars. Some have argued that Woman Stranger is in fact one woman symbolic of a variety of traits. The trait that seems to feature glaringly in Proverbs 7 is that of a woman who exercises her sexual powers outside the boundaries of conventional heterosexual marriage. A new phenomenon occurs in present-day South Africa. Should the phenomenon be regarded as a sign of the deconstruction of patriarchy and its power to control female sexuality? It entails among others, the seduction of younger men, designated as Ben 10's, by older women (read: female 'blessers' and/or sugar mummies), something akin to what Woman Stranger is portrayed as doing to the young man in Proverbs 7. The main question addressed by this article is: If the preceding South African phenomenon is used as a hermeneutical lens to read the text of Proverbs 7, which light might be shed on such relationships especially in present day South Africa? To the honouree, Professor Hendrik Bosman, which teachings and commandments from the wisdom acquired and imparted through his teaching and parenting may he impart in the context discussed here? <![CDATA[<b>Ritual innovation in Numbers 18?</b>]]> The paper engages with Numbers 18 in the light of the recent debate on ritual innovation. The focus is especially on verses 8-20 and the 'portion' of the priests, or more specifically the Aaronides. The intertextual links between Numbers 18 and other texts in Leviticus are first explored, including texts referring to the firstborn and the ban in Leviticus 27, but also Leviticus 3 and possible links with the peace offering. The article then seeks to find clarity on the diachronic relation between these different texts, before venturing into the debate on ritual innovation. Eventually the article also explores the obvious interests of the priests and how ritualised texts are used in the service of economic innovation. <![CDATA[<b>What of the night? Conceptions of night in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs</b>]]> This article investigates the conceptions of night in the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs in the light of the theology of night in the book of Job and the Psalter. It is noted that though some levels of correspondence are observable in the understandings of night in Proverbs-Ecclesiastes-Song of Songs and in Job-Psalter, the points of divergence are stronger. Whereas a strong feminist case can be made regarding the depictions of night especially in Proverbs and Song of Songs, evidence from Job-Psalter differs. In contrast, the unmistakable focus on God in the Job-Psalter conceptions of the night is completely absent in Proverbs-Ecclesiastes-Song of Songs. <![CDATA[<b>Royal care for the poor in Israel's first history: the royal law Deuteronomian 17:14-20), Hannah's song (1 Samuel 2:1-10), Samuel's warning (1 Samuel 8:10-18), David's attitude (2 Samuel 24:10-24) and Ahab and Naboth (1 Kings 21) in intertext</b>]]> It has been widely recognised in scholarship that the Deuteronomistic History (Deuteronomy to 2 Kings 25) was written to explain why the states of Israel and Judah both failed, attributing the reasons for the failure to their kings' disobedience regarding the demand of cult centralisation (Dt. 12) and keeping idolatry at bay (Dt. 13). This article argues that material questions (e.g. land and economic existence) are integral to the history and that the monarchy' s failure to care properly for the poor can be added as a further reason for the demise of Israel (north and south). As such the history not merely narrates the political history of (early) Israel, but also conveys a socio-ethical message. <![CDATA[<b>Investigating the issue of mixed marriages in Malachi, Ezra-Nehemiah and the Pentateuch</b>]]> This contribution investigates the issue of mixed marriages in the book of Malachi, Ezra-Nehemiah and the Pentateuch. It is found that mixed marriages in Malachi are denounced on religious grounds while in Ezra-Nehemiah nationalistic motivations such as language and culture also come into play. Malachi most probably draws on the legal traditions in the Pentateuch, notably Deuteronomy 7:1-8, to motivate his stance on mixed marriages. What is interesting is that the Pentateuch also tells various stories about prominent figures in the history of Israel who married foreign women without being judged for doing so. In fact, what they did is told approvingly. Does this mean that there are two traditions at play here: one a more legal approach denouncing mixed marriages and secondly a more pragmatic approach approving mixed marriages? Is the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible consistent in its view on this matter? <![CDATA[<b>Read as/with the perpetrator: Manasseh's vulnerability in 2 Kings 21:1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20</b>]]> This essay explores Manasseh's vulnerability in both narratives in terms of the current reader's own vulnerability. In 2 Kings 21:1-18 Manasseh appears to remain invulnerable over-against the inhabitants of Jerusalem's vulnerability. In 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 Manasseh is turned fragile in captivity and physically rendered vulnerable. The essay is divided into three sections. It starts with a theoretical basis for the argument of vulnerability, following Levinas' ethical moment, discussing the notion of vulnerability as a negative state, and constructing vulnerability as possibility on the basis of Erinn Gilson's book, The Ethics of Vulnerability. A Feminist Analysis of Social Life and Practice. In the second part Manasseh's story in 2 Kings 21:1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 is analyzed and in the last part the author connects the notion of vulnerability to these two stories. <![CDATA[<b>Is God a ventriloquist and is the Bible God's dummy? Critical reflections on the use of the Bible as a warrant for doctrines, policies and moral values</b>]]> Two newspaper articles prompted the writing of this academic article. The first one concerns the theological conference "Gateway to the future from a deconstructed past" held at the University of Pretoria earlier this year. The second concerns Christians' convictions that they adhere to "biblical norms and values". Both articles reflect on the use of the Bible - either in the past: the Bible and the apartheid policy (the first article), or the present: theological debates concerning the role of women in the church (the second article). Both articles evoked reactions which were published in the relevant newspaper. The articles and the reactions (letters to the press) give evidence to the fact that reformed Christians still struggle to accept that God is not a ventriloquist or the prime author of the biblical books. The current article engages the two newspaper articles as well as the reactions and promotes the ideas of reading the biblical books as ordinary literature, of embracing the contemporary world view, and of accepting contemporary human rights. <![CDATA[<b>In the greater scheme of things. Creation and the human condition in Terrence Malick's <i>Tree of Life </i>(2011)</b>]]> The oeuvre of the American film writer, director and producer, Terrence Malick has consistently traced themes related to creation and natural phenomena. Nowhere is it quite as spectacularly clear as in the critically acclaimed and 2011 Palme d'Or winner The Tree of Life. The film explores human pain and suffering in the microcosm as it is set against the grand notions of the meaning of life and the creation of the world. This article traces the reception of Biblical creation themes and the movement of the Job narrative within the film, as it sets the stage for a complex coming-of-age story and a dramatic negotiation of masculinity construction. Malick sets up a grand canvas in order to engage with the beauty of human fragility and natural wonder. The article aims to explore alternative imaginings of what it means to be a man when the 'way of nature' is delicately juxtaposed 'with the way of grace '.2 <![CDATA[<b>Moses in the book of Daniel</b>]]> In the Hebrew Bible, the name of Moses appears most frequently in the Hexateuch. Outside this corpus that is closely related to the life of this main character in the narrative, the name of Moses is found mostly in post-exilic material. This article focuses on the use of this name in what is generally accepted to be the youngest book in the Hebrew Bible, namely the book of Daniel. In Daniel 9, Moses' name appears in the construct form torat moshe (Law of Moses). After analysing this chapter from both a literary and a historical perspective and taking the results of this analysis into account, a suggestion is made regarding the reason why the compiler(s) of the book of Daniel may have used this phrase. <![CDATA[<b>The metaphorical depiction of Nineveh's demise. The use of the locust 'marked metaphor' in Nahum 3:15-17</b>]]> The passage Nahum 3:15-17 operates within a context in which the theme of destruction is expounded. Various references of locusts as part of simile are used to speak about the threat and downfall of Nineveh, the symbol of Assyrian power, and some of its influential people. The article aims not only to to discuss the various applications of the locust metaphor in the designated verses, but also to argue how this metaphor is used effectively to speak mockingly about the dreaded power of Assyria, symbolised by Nineveh, her officials and people. In this article, the effective use of the locust 'marked metaphor' is discussed in an attempt to illustrate to the vulnerability and fleeting nature of the power of the once dominant Assyria. The oracle functions to encourage the people of Judah to envisage a display of Yahweh's power to cause the downfall of the enemy. <![CDATA[<b><i>Senzeni na? </i>Speaking of God 'what is right' and the 're-turn' of the stigmatising community in the context of HIV</b>]]> This article uses the Ujamaa Centre's work on the book of Job as a case-study for how the resources of biblical studies have enabled access to the biblical tradition of lament, and of how the lament of people living with HIV has posed new questions to biblical scholarship. The article traces a interpretive trajectory from embodied theologies of acceptance (Job 1:21) to the emergence of embodied theologies of lament (Job 3), tracking how the book of Job has provided support groups ofpeople living positively with HIV to speak of and to God, speaking of and to God "what is right" (Job 42:7) as did Job.