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Old Testament Essays

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

Old testam. essays vol.22 n.3 Pretoria  2009

 

Did Prince Cetshwayo read the Old Testament in 1859? The role of the Bible and the art of reading in the interaction between Norwegian missionaries and the Zulu elite in the mid-19th century

 

 

Knut Holter

School of Mission and Theology, Norway / University of Stellenbosch

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

The context of this essay is the celebration of 150 years of theological - including Old Testament - studies in South Africa, commemorating the establishing of a theological seminary in Stellenbosch in 1859. The essay discusses another but simultaneous incident reflecting the early interface between South Africa and the Bible. In late 1859, the Zulu Prince (later King) Cetshwayo approached Norwegian missionaries operating at the border between Natal and Zululand, expressing his wish to learn to read. The missionaries saw this as a God-given opportunity to expose the prince to the Word of God, and Moses, a Christian Zulu, was put in charge of the instruction. Based on Norwegian (and to some extent British: Colenso) missionary sources, the essay discusses this incident in 1859 from the perspective that the Bible is perceived by both missionaries and Zulus as a particular object of power, within the more general exchange of goods and services between the missionaries and the Zulu elite.


 

 

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Colenso, J. W. "Diocese of Natal: First Steps of the Zulu Mission (Oct. 1859)." Reprint of first edition (London: The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), with additional notes. Pages 41-161 in Bringing Forth the Light: Five Tracts on Bishop Colenso's Zulu Mission. Killie Campbell Africana Library Reprint Series, 4. Written by J. W. Colenso. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, and Durban: Killie Campbell Africana Library,         [ Links ] [1860a] 1982.

_____. "Three Native Accounts of the Visit of the Bishop of Natal in September and October 1859, to Umpande, King of the Zulus." Reprint of third edition (Natal: May and Davis, Maritzburg, 1901) with additional notes. Pages 163-203 in Bringing Forth the Light: Five Tracts on Bishop Colenso's Zulu Mission. Killie Campbell Africana Library Reprint Series, 4. Written by J. W. Colenso. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, and Durban: Killie Campbell Africana Library, [1860b] 1982.

_____. Bringing Forth the Light: Five Tracts on Bishop Colenso's Zulu Mission. Killie Campbell Africana Library Reprint Series, 4. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, and Durban: Killie Campbell Africana Library, 1982.         [ Links ]

Comaroff, J. & Comaroff, J. L. Of Revelation and Revolution. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991.         [ Links ]

J0rgensen, T. Contact and Conflict: Norwegian Missionaries, the Zulu Kingdom, and the Gospel, 1850-1873. Oslo: Solum Forlag, 1990.         [ Links ]

_____. "Zibukjana Ka Gudu Moses: Student fra Zululand ved Misjonsskolen 1866-69." Pages 221-229 in Nordmenn i Afrika - afrikanere i Norge. Edited by K. Alsaker Kjerland & A. K. Bang. Bergen: Vigmostad & Bjorke, 2002.         [ Links ]

Kielland, J. O. "[Report from] Empangeni [dated 2. January 1868]." Norsk Missions-Tidende 23 (1868): 139-148.

Le Roux, J. H. A Story of Two Ways: Thirty Years of Old Testament Scholarship in South Africa. Old Testament Essays Supplement Series, 2. Pretoria: Verba Vitae, 1993.         [ Links ]

Oftebro, O. C. "[Report from] Empangeni [dated 14. October 1859]." Norsk Missions-Tidende 15 (1860): 31-52.

Razafindrakoto, G. "The Old Testament outside the realm of the church: A case from Madagascar." Old Testament Essays 19 (2006): 473-485.         [ Links ]

Simensen, J. "Religious change as transaction: The Norwegian mission to Zululand South Africa 1850-1906." Journal of Religion in Africa 16 (1986): 83-100.         [ Links ]

West, G. O. "Mapping African biblical interpretation: A tentative sketch." Pages 29-53 in The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends. Edited by G. O. West & M. W. Dube. Leiden: Brill, 2000.         [ Links ]

_____. "The Bible as Bola: Among the foundations of African biblical apprehensions." Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 112 (2002): 23-37.         [ Links ]

_____. "Early encounters with the Bible among the Batlhaping: Historical and Hermeneutical signs." Biblical Interpretation 12 (2004): 251-281.         [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
Dr Knut Holter is Professor of Old Testament Studies at the MHS School of Mission and Theology
Misjonsmarka 12, N-4024 Stavanger, Norway
Professor Extraordinarius, University of Stellenbosch
E-mail: knut.holter@mhs.no

 

 

1 The essay is built on a paper that was read at the Joint Conference of the Academic Societies in the Fields of Religion and Theology, University of Stellenbosch, 22-26 June 2009. The conference commemorated the establishing of the Theological Seminary in Stellenbosch in 1859, and a subsequent history of 150 years of academic study of theology and religion in South Africa.

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