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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X


SNYMAN, Gerrie F.. A hermeneutic of vulnerability: difficult empathy in response to moral injury within whiteness. Koers (Online) [online]. 2021, vol.86, n.1, pp.1-17. ISSN 2304-8557.

The purpose of this essay is to expose reader vulnerability by unmasking what is hidden in the reading of a (biblical) text. The working hypothesis is as follows: The mythical norm of reading the biblical text masks the issue of race in biblical hermeneutics in assuming white innocence and hiding a moral injury caused by the imperial agenda of modernity. A hermeneutics of vulnerability is suggested in order to acknowledge the moral injury that the racial implications of the imperia agenda of modernity caused and is still causing. The moral injury is mitigated by a process of difficult or unsettling empathy engendered by a hermeneutic of vulnerability. The arguments are set up as follows: the first section endeavours to figure out what lies behind the projection or construction of white innocence associated with the mythical norm (given the preponderance of race in current discourse in South Africa and the USA). The second section deals with the way a hermeneutic of vulnerability can enable a reader to credibly respond from a position of whiteness to, for example, the pressures from the decolonial turn in the discourse on race, asking what it means to be vulnerable and how one accounts for vulnerability. The third section embroiders on the consequences of accepting and revealing vulnerability, namely to show empathy and more specifically an uneasy or difficult empathy in a racially tense society.

Keywords : vulnerability; decoloniality; racism; biblical hermeneutics; Reformed Churches of South Africa; unsettling empathy.

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