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Acta Theologica

On-line version ISSN 2309-9089
Print version ISSN 1015-8758

Acta theol. vol.29  suppl.12 Bloemfontein  2009


Reversing the biblical tide: What Kuruman teaches London about mission in a post-colonial era



S. de Gruchy

School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209. E-mail:




Through a case study focusing on the shift from the London Missionary Society (LMS) to the Council for World Mission (CWM) this essay argues that there is a hermeneutical circle between the Bible and mission. A particular reading of the Bible led the missionaries of the LMS to Africa, and their concern to promote the Bible led to the translation and printing of the Bible in indigenous languages - most famously into Setswana by Robert Moffat at Kuruman. Inevitably, the availability of the Bible in indigenous languages led to new ways of understanding the church and mission from the perspective of the South. This post-colonial dynamic led to changes in the LMS and to the emergence of CWM in 1977. The essay then pursues the argument by showing how over the thirty years of CWM's life there continues to be the development of a biblical vision for mission that takes seriously the perspectives of the post-colonial world.

Keywords: Mission, Bible, Hermeneutical circle, Post-colonial

Trefwoorde: Sending, Bybel, Hermeneutiese sirkel, Post-koloniaal



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1 The research for this paper was undertaken whilst I was Scholar in Residence at the CWM offices in London, August-December 2007. The support and assistance of the Council and the staff in London is humbly acknowledged.

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