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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919


SITHOLE, Nkosinathi. An African bible for African readers: J. G. Shembe's use of the Bible in the sermon. Old testam. essays [online]. 2011, vol.24, n.1, pp.208-220. ISSN 2312-3621.

It is true that Isaiah Shembe used the Bible as one of the important foundations for the creation of his Ibandla lamaNazaretha. While more work needs to be done on how Isaiah Shembe appropriated the Bible in forging his Church, there is a pressing need to research the way in which the Bible is used and interpreted in the Ibandla lamaNazaretha post Isaiah Shembe, by both members of the Church and the leaders: iLanga, iNyanga Yezulu and especially the present leader, UThingo. This paper is part of a broader project in which I try to explore the reception of the Bible in the Ibandla lamaNazaretha. Here I look at the use and appropriation of the Bible by Isaiah Shembe's son and successor, J. G. Shembe, popularly known to members as iLanga (Sun). I argue that while J. G. Shembe is at pains to appropriate the Bible for Africa, presenting it as an African inspired and created text, he is also forced to denounce it as foreign because of its interpretation by the educated elite. This interpretation (by the educated elites) negates African religion and the worship of ancestors which J. G. Shembe supports.

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