SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.24 número3The pleasing and the awesome: On the beauty of humans in the Old TestamentA new Biblical Hebrew teaching grammar for African Bible translators: A typological approach índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados



Links relacionados

  • En proceso de indezaciónCitado por Google
  • En proceso de indezaciónSimilares en Google


Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.24 no.3 Pretoria  2011


Towards an indigenous (Xhosa) South African biblical scholarship



Ndikho Mtshiselwa






Whiteness that continues to influence indigenous biblical interpretation is problematic in South African biblical scholarship. The purpose of this article is to further the debate on whiteness that results into a paradigm shift from an interpretation influenced by whiteness to an indigenous (Xhosa) biblical interpretation, blackness.1 While whiteness is explored in this article, a process of reading the Bible from an indigenous (Xhosa) perspective is advocated for, tested and illustrated by utilizing a Xhosa-constructed song to unlock and reconstruct a meaning of an ancient text (Mark 9:4). The findings presented in this article demonstrate that historical and literary criticisms are problematic, that they express impediments to the emancipation of blackness and shows how the usage of European church songs that supposedly unlock the meaning of ancient texts reveals whiteness's continuing influence in current South African biblical scholarship. A reconfiguration of the Hebrew Bible's Moses and Elijah with the help of an indigenous (Xhosa) song, demonstrates how blackness similarly unlocks the meaning of an ancient text, which is not shaded by whiteness.



Full text available only in PDF format.




Bernardin, Joseph. "The Transfiguration," Journal of Biblical Literature 52/3 (1933): 181-189.         [ Links ]

Brett, Mark G. "The Ethics of Postcolonial Criticism." Semeia75 (1996): 219-228.         [ Links ]

Brown, Duncan. Voicing the Text: South African Oral Poetry and Performance. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1998.         [ Links ]

Davis, W. S. "Ndikhokele O Yehova." Page 197 in Incwadi yombedesho kunye neminye imibedesho Namaculo emiselwe ibandla lamawesile ase South Africa: ibhalwe ngesiXhosa. Edited by T. R. Curnick. Cape Town: Methodist Book Deport and Publishing House, 1926.         [ Links ]

Dube, Musa W. "Readings of Semoya: Batswana Women's Interpretations of Matt. 15:21-28." Semeia 73 (1996): 111-129.         [ Links ]

_____. "Toward a Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible." Semeia 78 (1997):11-26.         [ Links ]

England, Frank. "Postcolonial Anxiety and Biblical Criticism in South Africa." Neotestamentica 43/1(2009): 27-48.         [ Links ]

France, Richard T. The Gospel of Mark: a Commentary on the Greek text. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Bm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2002.         [ Links ]

Frankenberg, Ruth. White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.         [ Links ]

Gandhi, Leela. Postcolonial Theory. A Critical Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.         [ Links ]

Gerwel, Jakes. "Anti-Rassisme Verg Aktiewe Optrede." Rapport (10 Julie 2011), 2.         [ Links ]

Hardt, Michael and Negri Antonio. Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.         [ Links ]

Hodgson, Janet. The God of the Xhosa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1982.         [ Links ]

Holter, Knut. "Africa in the Old Testament." Pages 569-581 in The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends. Edited by Gerald O. West and Dube Musa. Leiden: Brill, 2000.         [ Links ]

_____. "When Biblical Scholars Talk about 'Global' Biblical Interpretation." Pages 85-93 in Global Hermeneutics: Reflections and Consequences. Edited by Knut Holter and Louis C. Jonker. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.         [ Links ]

Lassiter, James. E. "African Culture and Personality: Bad Social Science, Effective Social Activism, or a Call to Reinvent Ethnology?" No pages. Cited 24 October 2011. Online:         [ Links ]

Le Roux, Jurie H. "Africa and the Future of our Scholarly Past." Pages 307-323 in African and European Readers of the Bible in Dialogue: In Quest of a Shared Meaning. Edited by Hans De Wit and Gerald O. West. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2008.         [ Links ]

Matthews, Sally. "Inherited or Earned Advantage." No pages. Cited 19 October 2011. Online:         [ Links ]

Masenya, Madipoane J. (ngwana'Mphahlele). "Between Unjust Suffering and the 'Silent' God: Job and HIV/AIDS Sufferers in South Africa." Missionalia 29 (2001): 186-199.         [ Links ]

_____. (ngwana'Mphahlele). "A Bosadi (Womanhood) Reading of Proverbs 31:10-31." Pages 145-157 in Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible. Edited by Musa W. Dube. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001.         [ Links ]

McKaiser, Eusebuis. "Confronting Whiteness." No pages. Cited 1 July 2011. Online:         [ Links ]

Moore, Stephen D. "Doing Gospel Criticism as/with a 'Reader.'" Biblical Theology Bulletin 19 (1989): 85-93.         [ Links ]

Mosala, Itumeleng. Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B Eerdmans, 1989.         [ Links ]

Mngxitama, Andile. "End to Whiteness a Black Issue." Mail & Guardian (October 21, 2011), 38.         [ Links ]

Mtuze, Peter. T. The Essence of Xhosa Spirituality and the Nuisance of Cultural Imperialism. Florida Hills: Vivlia Publishers, 2003.         [ Links ]

Nzimande, Makhosazana K. "Reconfiguring Jezebel: a Postcolonial Imbokodo Reading of the Story of Naboth's Vineyard (1 Kings 21:116)." Pages 223-258 in African and European Readers of the Bible in Dialogue: In Quest of a Shared Meaning. Edited by Hans de Wit and Gerald O. West. Leiden: Brill, 2008.         [ Links ]

Pauw, Berthold A. Christianity and Xhosa Tradition. Cape Town: Oxford, 1975.         [ Links ]

Pieres, Jeffrey B. "The Central Beliefs of the Xhosa Cattle-Killing." Journal of African History 28 (1987): 43-63.         [ Links ]

Punt, Jeremy. "Current Debates on Biblical Hermeneutics in South Africa and Postcolonial Matrix." Religion and Theology 11/2 (2004): 139- 160.         [ Links ]

_____. "Why not Postcolonial Biblical Criticism in South Africa: Stating the Obvious or Looking for the Impossible?" Scriptura 91 (2006): 63-82.         [ Links ]

Projanski, Sarah and Kent A. Ono. "Strategic Whiteness as Cinematic Racial Politics." Pages 149-174 in Whiteness: The Communication of Social Identity. Edited by Thomas K. Nakayama and Judith Martin, Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1999.         [ Links ]

Shome, Raka. "Whiteness and the Politics of Location." Pages 107-128 in Whiteness: The Communication of Social Identity. Edited by Thomas K. Nakayama and Judith N. Martin. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1999.         [ Links ]

Smith-Christopher, Daniel L. "Introduction." Pages 11-22 in Text and Experience: Towards a Cultural Exegesis of the Bible. Edited by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.         [ Links ]

Snyman, Gerrie. "The Rhetoric of Shame in Religious and Political Discourses: Constructing the Perpetrator in South African Academic Discourse." Old Testament Essays 19/1 (2006): 183-204.         [ Links ]

_____. "African Hermeneutics' 'Outing' of Whiteness." Neotestamentica 42/1 (2008): 93-118.         [ Links ]

_____. "'Is it Not Sufficient to Be a Human Being?' Memory, Christianity and White Identity in Africa." Religion & Theology 15 (2008): 395-426.         [ Links ]

Steyn, Melissa. "White Identity in Context." Pages 264-278 in Whiteness: The Communication of Social Identity. Edited by Thomas K. Nakayama and Judith Martin. Newbury Park: Sage, 1999.         [ Links ]

Shutte, Augustine. Philosophy for Africa. Rondebosch: University of Cape Town Press, 1993.         [ Links ]

Stein, Robert H. "Is the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8) a Misplaced Resurrection-Account?" Journal of Biblical Literature 95/1 (1976): 79-96.         [ Links ]

Sugirtharajah, Rasiah S. "Thinking about Vernacular Hermeneutics Sitting in a Metropolitan Study." Pages 92-115 in Vernacular Hermeneutics. Edited by Rasiah S. Sugirtharajah. Sheffield: Sheffield academic Press, 1999.         [ Links ]

Ukpong, Justin S. "Developments in Biblical Interpretation in Africa: Historical and Hermeneutical Directions." Pages 11-28 in The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends. Edited by Gerald O. West and Musa Dube. Leiden: Brill, 2000.         [ Links ]

_____. "Bible Reading with a Community of Ordinary Readers." Pages 188-212 in Interpreting the New Testament in Africa. Edited by Mary N. Getui, Samuel T. Maluleke and Justin S. Ukpong. Nairobi: Acton, 2001.         [ Links ]

Vice, Samantha, "How Do I Live in This Strange Place?" Journal of Social Philosophy 41/3 (2010): 323-342.         [ Links ]

_____. "Why my Opinions on Whiteness Touched a Nerve." No pages. Cited 2 September 2011. Online:         [ Links ]

Wenham, David and A. D. A. Moses, "'There Are Some Standing Here...': Did They Become the 'Reputed Pillars' of the Jerusalem Church? Some Reflections on Mark 9:1, Galatians 2:9 and the Transfiguration." Novum Testamentum 36/2 (1994): 146-163.         [ Links ]

West, Gerald O. "Indigenous Exegesis: Exploring the Interface between Missionary Methods and the Rhetorical Rhythms of Africa: Locating Local Reading Resources in the Academy." Neotestamentica 36 (2002):147-162.         [ Links ]

_____. "Unpacking the Package that is Bible in African Biblical Scholarship." Pages 65-94 in Reading the Bible in the Global Village: Cape Town. Edited by Kent H. Richards. Atlanta: Society of Biblical literature, 2002b.         [ Links ]

_____. "Doing Postcolonial Biblical Criticism @Home: Ten Years of South African Ambivalence." Neotestamentica 42/1 (2008a):147-164.         [ Links ]

_____. "Interrogating the Comparative Paradigm in African Biblical Scholarship." Pages 37-64 in African and European Readers of the Bible in Dialogue: In Quest of a Shared Meaning. Edited by Hans De Wit and Gerald O. West. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2008b.         [ Links ]

Williams, William. "Guide me, Oh thou great Jehovah." Page 437 in Hymns and Psalms: a Methodist and Ecumenical Hymn Book. Edited by Representatives from the British Methodist Conference, Baptist Union, Churches of Christ, Church of England, Congregational Federation, Methodist Church in Island, United Reformed Church and Wesleyan Reformed Union. London: Methodist Publishing House, 1983.         [ Links ]

Yorke, Gosnell L.O.R. "Biblical Hermeneutics: An Afrocentric Perspective." The Journal of Religious Thought 52 (2001): 1-13.         [ Links ]



Rev. Ndikho Mtshiselwa
Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
University of South Africa
P.O. Box 392, UNISA, 0003
South Africa

Creative Commons License Todo el contenido de esta revista, excepto dónde está identificado, está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons