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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.23 no.3 Pretoria  2010


Parental instruction in differing contexts: Using hermeneutical phenomenology to understand selected biblical and African Proverbs



Madipoane Masenya [Ngwan'a Mphahlele]






In hermeneutical phenomenology, a genuine conversation is sought between the researcher and the text or the life expression under investigation. In the present article, a conversation will take place between myself and selected texts from Proverbs, in particular, the text of Proverbs 1:8-9 as well as selected Northern Sotho proverbs. In line with the spirit of hermeneutical phenomenology, I come to the text with some measure of prior understanding an/or presuppositions. The latter entails among others, the apparent resemblances between the world view of the indigenous African peoples of South Africa and those of pre-exilic Israel and post-exilic Judah on parent-child relationships within a monogamous family context. Of particular interest is the phenomenon of parental instruction as it is observable from the gendered (?) nature of the musar of the father and the torah of the mother in Proverbs 1:8-9. Located within the genre of Instruction (cf. Proverbs 1-9), Proverbs 1:8-9, is significant because it forms part of the first pericope within the whole book of Proverbs which addresses the theme of parent-child relationships in the family context. The article seeks to provide a clearer understanding on the world views provided by both my own African-South African context and the textual context of Proverbs 1:8-9 on the following: 1) the role played by both parents in the general upbringing of their children and 2) the significance of the different words used for the nature of upbringing offered by each parent in Proverbs 1:8-9. In a nutshell, what was the nature of the phenomenon of parental instruction as it was practiced in these differing contexts? Could one draw any points of resemblance between the content of biblical texts under investigation and a similar theme from related African-South African proverbs?



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Prof. Madipoane Masenya (ngwan'a Mphahlele)
University of South Africa, Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
P. O. Box 392, Unisa, 0003

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