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Verbum et Ecclesia

versión On-line ISSN 2074-7705
versión impresa ISSN 1609-9982

Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.40 no.1 Pretoria  2019 

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Johann Beukes

Received: 05 Dec. 2018
Accepted: 26 Feb. 2019
Published: 17 July 2019



1. Let daarop dat die gangbare gebruik in die Middeleeuse navorsing is om Latyn te gebruik wanneer na die nisnavorsing verwys word ('Saresberiensis-navorsing'), maar per Engelse eienaam na die persoon 'Salisbury' te verwys; ook in Duits (Johannes von Salisbury), Frans (Jean de Salisbury) en Nederlands (Johannes van Salisbury; wat ek ook so in Afrikaans gebruik). Die betroubare inleidingswerk in Duits vanuit die 1950's, Grabmann (1957:438-451), vertoef grondig by Salisbury. Maar ons vind wisselvallige verwysings na en kortaf besprekings van Salisbury in by verre die meeste ander betroubare, ook betreklik onlangse, inleidingswerke in Middeleeuse filosofie. Vergelyk byvoorbeeld die volgende: Die redaksionele bloemlesing van Bosley en Tweedale (2004) bevat geen verwysing nie. Die filosofiese woordeboek van Brown en Flores (2007:162-163) bevat ʼn kriptiese inskrywing van twee paragrawe. Canning (1996:110-14) bevat ʼn goeie bespreking van Salisbury se politieke filosofie. Colish (1999:177, 347) bevat twee kort verwysings. Copleston (1993:172-174) se gestandaardiseerde inleiding verskaf ʼn kriptiese oorsig van ongeveer ses paragrawe. Dronke (1988:21, 249, 358, 451) bevat vier kort verwysings. Die resente en hoogs inklusiewe Gracia en Noone gee via ʼn opsomming van Kneepkens (2006:392-396) die belangrikste biografiese en bibliografiese inligting effektief deur. Grant (2004:48-51, 49, 116, 294) bespreek kortliks Salisbury se hantering van die trivium, met drie kort verwysings daarby. Hannam (2009) se tematiese inleidingswerk bevat geen verwysing nie. Haren (1985:90-94) wys slegs op enkele implikasies van Salisbury se werk vir die latere hoog-skolastiek. Die bloemlesing van Hyman et al. (2010) bevat geen verwysing nie. Kenny (2005) se inleidingswerk bevat geen verwysing nie. Die tematiese inleidingswerk van Koterski (2009) bevat geen verwysing nie. Die sistematiese inleidingswerk van Kretzmann et al. (1982:870) bevat slegs ʼn paragraafverwysing, asook ʼn saaklike bibliografie. Die resente redaksiewerk van Lagerlund (2011) voorsien via ʼn resumering van Nederman (2011:637-641) ʼn deurtastende bespreking. Luscombe (1997:55, 87) bevat slegs twee kort verwysings; wat vreemd aandoen, in die lig daarvan dat Luscombe (1984) net meer as ʼn dekade vroeër ʼn grondige navorsingsoorsig aangebied het. Marenbon (2007) se uitstaande inleidingswerk in soveel ander opsigte bevat slegs vier saaklike verwysings (2007:149-150, 162, 166). Sy ouer geskiedsoorsig (1998:154, 172) bevat slegs twee kort verwysings. Martin (1996) se inleidingswerk bevat geen verwysing nie. Die inleidingswerk van McGrade (2003:33, 281) bevat twee saaklike verwysings. Die tematiese inleidingswerk van Pasnau en Van Dyke (2010b:913) verskaf ʼn kort bespreking, bestaande uit twee paragrawe.
2. Oor periodisering in die Middeleeuse filosofie, sien Beukes (2011a:1, 2011b:1, 2018a:1, 2018b:1). Die skrywer se sesdelige periodisering van Middeleeuse filosofie kom in kort op die volgende neer: (1) Die post-Romeinse periode (vyfde tot sewende eeue [410 {Alaricus I en die eerste barbaarse inval in Rome} tot 668 {d. Konstans II}], met Augustinus [354-430] en Boethius [480-524] as die belangrikste filosofiese eksponente); (2) Die Karolingiese periode (agste en negende eeue [742 {g. Karel I} tot 877 {d. Eriugena}], met Alcuin [730-804] en Eriugena [815-877] as die belangrikste Latyns-Westerse geleiers van die Karolingiese Renaissance, met inbegrip van die opkoms van Arabiese filosofie in Bagdad en Andalusiese Spanje); (3) Die post-Karolingiese periode (negende tot 12de eeue [877 {d. Eriugena} tot 1088 {aanvang van die kruistogte en die opkoms van die vroegste universiteitswese}], met Anselmus [1033-1109] en Abelardus [1079-1142] as die mees gevolgryke onder die Latyns-Westerse denkers wat sou baat by die rehabilitering van die antieke erfenis in die Karolingiese Renaissance); (4) Die vroeg-skolastiese periode (11de tot 13de eeue [1088 {stigting van die Universiteit van Bologne, die eerste Europese universiteit} tot 1225 {g. Aquinas}]); 5) Die hoog-skolastiese periode (13de tot 14de eeue [1225 {g. Aquinas} tot 1349 {d. Ockham}, met Aquinas, Duns Skotus en Ockham as die beroemdstes onder die hoe
̈ skolastici]); 6) Die post-skolastiese periode (14de tot 15de eeue [1349 {d. Ockham} tot 1464 {d. Kusa}]).
3. Met inbegrip van Lejeune (2009) se vertaling van en kommentaar op Metalogicon in Frans.
4. Die doel van hierdie artikel is om die onlangse Saresberiensis-navorsing logies en sistematies in terme van filosofiese analises binne hierdie navorsingskonteks te ondersoek. Die aard van die artikel is enersyds oorsigtelik, in die sin dat grondig aandag gegee word aan die tersaaklike intellektuele geskiedenis. Die artikel is andersyds analities en sinteties, bedoelende dat Salisbury se primêre tekste in die mees onlangse Latyn-uitgawes so selfstandig moontlik gelees word, sonder sekondêreteks-begeleiding, waarna die sekondêre tekste geraadpleeg en getoets word aan my lesing, om tot 'n koherente sintese te kom.
5. Hierdie uiteensetting is geskoei op
ʼn lesing van die primêre tekste van Salisbury (1855, 1979, 1986a, 1986b, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2013) en ʼn ontleding en byeenbring van die volgende sekondêre tekste: Barrau (2015:105-146); Bloch (2015:289-306); Bollerman en Nederman (2015:63-104, 2016:1-9); Brooke (1984:1-20); Canning (1996:110-114); Copleston (1993:172-174); Giraud en Mews (2015:31-62); Grabmann (1957:438-451); Grellard (2015:339-376); Grellard en Lachaud (2015a:1-30); O'Daly (2018:1-24); Hermand-Schebat (2015:180-214); Kemer (1977:1-48); Kneepkens (2006:392-396); Lachaud (2015: 377-438); Luscombe (1984:21-37); Martin (1984:179-201); McGarry (1971:xv-xxvii); Monagle (2015:215-234); Nederman (1990:xvi-xxvi; 2005:1-30; 2009:99-121; 2011:637-641; 2015:258-288); Pasnau en Van Dyke (2010a:1-10; 2010b:539-564); Pepin (2015:147-179); Sassier (2015:235-257); Sønnesyn (2015:307-338) en Webb (1971:1-18).
6. Die mees onlangse vertaling en redigering van die onvoltooide Historia Pontificalis is dié van Chibnall (Salisbury 1986b).
7. Vita sancti Anselmi archiepiscopi Cantuariensis, Patrologia Latina 199, 1110-1140; Vita Sancti Thomae Cantuariensis archiepiscopi et martyris, Patrologia Latina 190, 195-203.
8. Die korter weergawe van Entheticus is opgeneem in C.C.J. Webb se 1909-redigering as voorwoord tot die Policraticus, terwyl die langer weergawe net so behoue gebly het in die Migne-uitgawe van 1855 (Patrologia Latina 199:965-1004). Beide weergawes is in 1987 geredigeer deur L. van Laarhoven in drie volumes by Brill (Salisbury 1987).
9. Die Policraticus-teks in Latyn, in die Migne-uitgawe van 1855, is krities geredigeer deur C.C.J. Webb in 1909, in twee volumes. Die eerste vertaling in Engels (The stateman's book) van J. Dickinson verskyn in 1927, opgevolg deur J.H. Pike se vertaling (Frivolities of courtiers and footprints of philosophers) met redaksionele kommentaar in 1938. Die belangrikste latere vertaling en redigering van Policraticus tot op datum is dié van Nederman (Salisbury 1990), met inbegrip van Keats-Rohan se bywerking van die Latynse teks in die Brepols uitgawe van 1993.
10. Ek bied die afkorting 'JWGV' vanuit Anselmus (1033-1109) se metodologiese inleiding tot die skolastiek, aan as
ʼn toeganklike definisie vir die skolastiese metode (jukstaposisie, woord vir woord, gesag, verifikasie): 1) Tekste kom tot stand vanuit die jukstaponering van idees en tekste vanuit die bestaande resepsie oor ʼn bepaalde saak; 2) Die bestaande resepsie word woord vir woord gekommentarieer in kantaantekeninge en voetnotas, so omvangryk as moontlik, en uitlatings word verantwoord, terwyl die Aristoteliese tegniek van divisie en subdivisie gevolg word; 3) Die gesag is die tekste en ideëhistoriese voorkommentaar self en nie die Bybelse tekste of die credo's van die kerk nie; 4) Die geldigheid van skolastiese konklusies word intern geverifieer (met ander woorde, nie met beroep op enige outoriteit buite die immanente teks nie). Die voorwoord van Anselmus se Monologion verskaf enkele belangrike geleiers vir hierdie ontwikkelende styl, wat later as 'skolastiek' bekend sou staan. Eerstens dui Anselmus (1974:3) in die voorwoord aan dat boek gerig is aan sy monnike-broers te Bec en dat, op hulle aandrang, geen argumentvoering in die boek op Skrifgesag sal berus nie, maar op rasionele argumentvoering: ' rasionele afleiding moet die bewyse verskaf en die helder waarheid moet daarvanuit openlik manifesteer, wat ook al die gevolgtrekkings van die onderskeie ondersoeke in die werk' (Anselmus 1974:5). Daarom het Anselmus, voordat die boek begin sirkuleer het, alle verwysings na gesag in terme van die Bybel en ander kerklike gesag soos die credo's van die kerk uit die teks verwyder. Hy het dit aan aartsbiskop Lanfranc in Kantelberg gestuur, wat onthuts was oor die afwesigheid van Skrifverwysings en ander kerklike gesagsverwysings. Tog het Anselmus die werk so laat sirkuleer sonder enige herwysiging - die skolastiese metode het gekom om te bly. Die skolastiese metode was ongetwyfeld ʼn nuwe vorm van filosofiese aanbod in die Latynse Weste. Tog deins Anselmus, wat van nature konserwatief was en wie se eerbied vir gesag ooglopend was, nog terug voor hierdie nuwe metode, wat hy op aandrang van sy broers te Bec ontwikkel het. Die nuwe metode het inderdaad by hom spanning veroorsaak, wat hy in die opvolgwerk Proslogion met ʼn beroep op 'geloof ten einde te verstaan' - credo ut intelligam - verantwoord het. Die skolastiese metode is uiteindelik volgens Anselmus net dit: ʼn metode. Dit is nie ʼn refleksie van die skrywer se geloof nie. Tog sou die skrywer nie tot ʼn verstaan van die komplekse sake kon kom sonder geloof nie - soos wat Anselmus reeds met die selfonderbrekende bespreking van die Drie-Eenheid in Monologion aangedui het. Sommige sake wat juis sober rasioneel in terme van skolastiese argumentvoering aangebied word, kan eers verstaan word wanneer dit geglo word. Dit is uiteindelik nie die saaklike korrektheid van die argument wat die laaste woord oor die waarheid daarvan het nie. Anselmus (1974) verwoord dit in Monologion se voorwoord nog so: Indien ek in hierdie ondersoek ʼn stelling maak wat nie deur ʼn groter outoriteit genoem word nie, en selfs indien my stelling ʼn noodsaaklike gevolg is van redes wat ek as goeie redes beskou, wil ek dat die stelling soos volg ontvang sal word: Dit word nie aangebied as absoluut noodsaaklik (vir die redes daaromtrent aangebied - JB) nie, maar wil verstaan word as in staat om voorlopig noodsaaklik voor te kom. (p. 5) Met ander woorde, die demonstrasies van die rede binne die konteks van religieuse waarhede is in wisselende grade voorlopig en dra die karakter van hipoteses. In die opvolgende Proslogion, waar Anselmus geen argumentatiewe antesedente hoegenaamd het nie, ook sou hy dit graag wou hê, maak Anselmus (1998:87) vanuit Jesaja 7 vers 9, in samehang met Augustinus se sitaat vanuit dieselfde teksvers uit ʼn prevulgaatvertaling, die duidelikste stelling moontlik van die prioriteit van geloof in die greep op ʼn 'verstaan van verstaan': 'Credo ut intelligam Ek soek nie begrip ten einde te kan glo nie, maar ek glo ten einde te kan verstaan. Want dit glo ek: as ek nie glo nie, sal ek ook nie verstaan nie'. Hierdie sentiment wou Anselmus (1998:83) aanvanklik oordra as subtitel of selfs die enkeltitel van Proslogion, naamlik as Fides quaerens intellectum (Geloof op soek na verstaan).
11. Die primêre manuskrip van Metalogicon is die Cantuariensis kodeks, op perkament in folio, gehuisves in Corpus Christi College Biblioteek te Cambridge Universiteit: MS Cod. 46, fols. 184-239. Die manuskrip dateer inderdaad uit die 12de of op die heel laaste uit die vroeë 13de eeu en daar bestaan min twyfel dat dit die oorspronklike kopie is wat na Becket in die herfs van 1159 gestuur is (vgl. Poole 1924:31-32; Webb 1971:19). Ten spyte van vyf uitgawes in Latyn (Parys 1610, Leiden 1639, Amsterdam 1664 [al drie gebaseer op MS Codex I, i-ii, 31, Cambridge University Biblioteek], J.A. Giles se vyf-volume Ioannis Sarisberiensis, Opera Omnia, nunc primum in unum colligit et cum codicibus manuscriptis contulit van vyf volumes [Universiteit van Oxford 1848] en die Migne-uitgawe van 1855 [Patrologia Latina 1999]), was daar geen vertaling van die volle teks in Frans, Duits of Engels beskikbaar nie, tot en met McGarry (1971) se eerste en betroubare Engelse vertaling, maar daarna juis die baanbrekende vertaling van die volle teks in Engels in 2013 deur J.B Hall en J.P. Haseldine, gebaseer op die hersiene Latynse teks in die Brepols-uitgawe van Hall en K.S.B. Keats-Rohan in 1991, Ioannis Saresberiensis Metalogicon (Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 98).
12. McGarry (1971:xxiv) wys op talle aspekte van hierdie 'perfekte Middeleeuse Latyn': Die enkelvokaal e word altyd gebruik in plaas van die diftonge æ en oe; i en y asook t en c word ter wille van die vloeibaarheid van die teks uitruilbaar gebruik; h word dikwels weggelaat; j word nooit in die plek van i of v in die plek van u gebruik nie, wat nogal mode in die latere Middeleeue sou word en daadwerklik steurend op die vloei en leesbaarheid van die teks inwerk. Daarmee saam, soos nou reeds duidelik, huiwer Salisbury nie om neologismes te skep indien dit die tematiese en stilistiese aansprake van sy tekste kan verhoog nie: hy gebruik woorde soos diacrisis, subarrauerunt en maneries in semantiese wysigings per konteks, terwyl hy Griekse woorde na die Latynse alfabet translitereer, met logos wat byvoorbeeld lecton, lexis en idos word.
13. Wilks (1984) se redaksiewerk, die resultaat van
ʼn konferensie met die 800ste gedenking van Salisbury se dood as tema, was die laaste aanbod van so ʼn grondige inleiding tot Salisbury se konteks, lewe en werk. Daarby kan die monografie van Nederman (2005) wel ook gereken word, hoewel die skopus van ondersoek kleiner was as in vermelde redaksiewerk van Wilks.
14. Christophe Grellard is mede-professor in Middeleeuse geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Parys I (Panthéon-Sorbonne).
15. Frédérique Lachaud is professor in Middeleeuse geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Lorraine.
16. Julie Barrau is senior lektor in Middeleeuse Britse geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Cambridge. Haar bydrae (2015:105-146), John of Salisbury as ecclesiastical administrator, fokus op die betreklike uniekheid daarvan dat Salisbury, anders as feitlik alle Middeleeuse denkers voor hom, nie as
ʼn geordende priester of orde-monnik tot die akademiese lewe toegetree het nie, maar as ʼn kerklike administrateur. In 1154 het hy die skriba van die aartsbiskop van Kantelberg, Theobald van Bec (ca.1090-1161; aartsbiskop vanaf 1139 tot 1161) geword, nadat hy met sukses administratiewe probleme vanaf Kantelberg in 1149 met Pous Eugenius III in Rome opgelos gekry het. Barrau fokus ook op Salisbury se uitgebreide reise na Frankryk en Italië (hy het die Alpe meer as 10 keer per voet gekruis), wat daartoe meegewerk het dat hy ʼn gerespekteerde figuur in die curia of pouslike hof van sowel Eugenius III (pous vanaf 1145 tot 1153) as Adrianus IV (pous vanaf 1154 tot 1159) geword het.
17. Karen Bollermann is mede-professor in Engels aan Arizona State Universiteit.
18. Cary Nederman is professor in politieke studies aan Texas A&M Universiteit, met spesialisasie in die geskiedenis en ontwikkeling van politieke filosofie.
19. Bollerman en Nederman (2015:63-104) se bydrae, John of Salisbury and Thomas Becket, bespreek - vir die eerste keer sistematies in die navorsing - die intieme verhouding tussen Salisbury en Becket. Selfs 850 jaar ná sy dood bly Becket een van die mees kontroversiële en enigmatiese figure in die Anglo-Saksiese geskiedenis: as kanselier van koning Hendrik II, as aartsbiskop van Kantelberg en uiteindelik as martelaar, wek Becket steeds belangstelling in letterkunde, teater en rolprente. Dit is juis sy onvoorspelbare gedrag en algemene dislojaliteit teenoor selfs die mees gesagvolle figure wat sy verhouding met Salisbury belangrik maak: in Salisbury het Becket
ʼn medeganger gevind in wie hy sy volle vertroue kon stel, wat hom gevolg het nadat hy uit Engeland verban is op grond van sy konflik met Hendrik II, en in wie hy ʼn akademiese geesgenoot gehad het, tot op die punt dat Salisbury beide Policraticus en Metalogicon aan Becket opgedra het. Salisbury sou ook sorg tref dat die feite rondom die sluipmoord op Becket in 1170 grondig die historiese argiewe ingedra word. Bollerman en Nederman dui met nougesette ontledings vanuit die kommentaargeskiedenis aan dat hierdie verhouding - juis in terme van die gevolgrykheid van beide Becket en Salisbury se werk - geheel ondergekommentarieerd in die navorsing is en dat hierdie bydrae daardie leemte in die navorsing help vul.
20. Cédric Giraud is mede-professor in Middeleeuse geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Lorraine.
21. Constant Mews is
ʼn bekende frontnavorser in Middeleeuse filosofie en Direkteur van die Sentrum vir Studies in Godsdiens en Teologie aan Monash Universiteit, Australië.
22. Giraud en Mews se bydrae (2015:31-62), John of Salisbury and the schools of the 12th century, fokus op Salisbury se veelsydigheid binne die skoolomgewing van die 12de eeu. Hy was tegelyk
ʼn Aristoteliaan, ʼn Platonis en Ciceriaan wat as komplekse intellektueel geweier het om aan slegs een trajek binne die vroeë skolastiek te konformeer. Juis omdat Salisbury gekies het om nie via priesterlike ordening of vanuit ʼn monnike-orde tot die opvoedkundige milieu van die 12de eeu toe te tree nie, maar die weg van ʼn heeltydse kerklike skriba of administrateur ingeslaan het (wat in effek beteken het, gegewe die hewige konflik tussen koning Hendrik II en aartsbiskop Thomas Becket, dat hy dikwels ʼn politieke diplomaat moes wees), word Salisbury in die resepsie dikwels as bloot ʼn kommentator van die 12de-eeuse skoolomgewing aangedui. Giraud en Mews voer egter aan dat Salisbury ʼn innoverende denker was, met ʼn merkwaardige vermoë om die kaf van die koring te skei in die hiperpolemiese en dikwels populistiese skoolomgewing van die 12de eeu. Metalogicon behoort juis verstaan te word as ʼn opvoedkundige korrektief op dit wat hy waargeneem het as ʼn toenemende gebrek aan erudisie in die skoolomgewing. Hy het dit veral gehad teen 'professionele akademici' se geneigdheid om eiebelang te bevorder, eerder as om die intellektuele opvoeding van die studentegemeenskap eerste te stel. Salisbury het politieke dienstigheid en akademiese politiek verafsku: dit was juis daardie weersin wat van hom so ʼn unieke figuur binne die kultuurpolitieke kontekste van die 12de eeu gemaak het.
23. Laure Hermand-Schebat is mede-professor in Latyn aan die Universiteit van Lyon. Haar bydrae (2015:180-214), John of Salisbury and classical antiquity, begin met
ʼn uitgebreide bespreking van Hieronymus en Augustinus as figure wat die spanning tussen Christelike dogma en die heidens-filosofiese literatuur aanvanklik bestendig het, vanwaar Salisbury sy eie vertrekpunt neem in terme van die relevansie van Plato, Aristoteles en Cicero, in die akademiese debatte van die vroeë skolastiek. Hermand-Schebat bevestig met gedetailleerde kruisverwysings vanuit die Latyn na die Griekse tekste dat Salisbury inderdaad nie Grieks kon lees nie. Sy dui egter ook aan dat Salisbury se lesings van en kommentaar op Aristoteles en Cicero, eersgenoemde vanuit die Grieks-Arabies-Latynse vertaling, onder die mees omvangryke van die tweede helfte van die 12de eeu tel.
24. Clare Monagle is senior lektor by die Skool vir Filosofiese, Historiese en Internasionale Studies aan Monash Universiteit, Australië. Sy dui (2015:215-234), met
ʼn opstel getitel John of Salisbury and the writing of history, op haar beurt die belang van Salisbury se Historia Pontificalis aan, as onderontgin in die historiografie van Middeleeuse geskiedskrywing. Sy dui aan dat Salisbury die gebruik van geskiedskrywing as primêr opvoedkundig beskou: die waarde en bedoeling van die kroniek is om die wyse waarop mense en gemeenskappe hulleself, hulle status en hulle eiendomme op enige gegewe stadium georganiseer het, te boekstaaf. Die kroniek word so ʼn kennisbron op grond waarvan opvolgende geslagte die konstellasies tussen wette, regte, gebruike en verpligtinge kon verstaan as toepaslik al dan nie vir die teenswoordige werklikheid. Hierdie pedagogiese perspektief, dui Monagle aan, was hoogs ongewoon vir die 12de eeu, waar geskiedskrywing se gangbare oogmerk was om die buitengewone en bonatuurlike as tekens en wonders te boekstaaf, as ʼn aanduiding van God se teenwoordigheid in die wêreld. Salisbury was ook nie geïnteresseerd in die kerkhistoriese opvatting van Eusebianus, waarin menslike tyd ontvou as gefigureerde herhalings van gebeure in die Ou en Nuwe Testamente van die Christelike Bybel nie. Eerder was Salisbury ʼn 'immanente geskiedskrywer', geïnteresseerd in die 'dinge van die wêreld' - vanaf regspraak, tot politieke diplomasie en staatkundige kwessies, tot ʼn sober geskiedskrywing van die pousdom. Monagle se bydrae is die eerste om Historia Pontificalis te lees as ʼn teks met ʼn gelyke (historiografiese) diskursiewe aanspraak as die politieke filosofie in Policraticus en die pedagogiek in Metalogicon.
25. Ronald Pepin is emeritus professsor in geesteswetenskappe aan die Capital Gemeenskapsuniversiteit in Hartford, Connecticut. Sy bydrae (2015:147-179), John of Salisbury as a writer, fokus op die literêre kwaliteit van Salisbury se tekste, sowel in Policraticus en Metalogicon as in sy uitgebreide korrespondensie. Pepin speur Salisbury se tekste op grond van die letterkundige meriete (uita) en die letterkundige erudisie (litteratus) daarvan na, met betrekking tot Salisbury se hantering van die Bybelse tekste, die klassieke tekste, vroeg-Middeleeuse tekste en vroeg-skolastiese tekste.
26. David Bloch is professor in klassieke studies aan die Universiteit van Kopenhagen. Hy ondersoek (2015:289-306) in sy bydrae, John of Salisbury on science and knowledge, Salisbury se wetenskapsbegrip en aspekte daarvan wat inderdaad as 'wetenskapsfilosofie' gekenmerk kan word. Bloch se bydrae is wesenlik
ʼn resumering van sy kritiese werk oor Salisbury en die Aristoteliese wetenskapsbegrip (Bloch 2012), waarin hy aanvoer dat Salisbury se kennis van die Organon beperk was, ten spyte daarvan dat die volledige Organon in daardie stadium in die Latynse Weste beskikbaar was. In die werk is Bloch se oogmerk nie om Salisbury se Aristoteles-resepsie vanuit ʼn 21ste-eeuse hovaardigheid te problematiseer nie, maar om aan te dui dat Salisbury se wetenskapsbegrip van meer invloede as net die Aristoteliese invloed (groot soos dit was) afhanklik was - en dat geheel die hoë skolastiek se aanvaarde aangewesenheid op Aristoteles se logika alleen geproblematiseer behoort te word. Bloch situeer Salisbury binne die wetenskapsteoretiese konteks van akademiese skeptisisme: kennis, waarvan ook al, is per definisie onseker. Sekere vorme van kennis is trouens onbereikbaar, buiten wanneer dit deur 'Goddelike intervensie bemiddel word'. Tog, by hierdie kenteoretiese vertrekpunt is Salisbury duidelik ʼn Aristoteliese denker: hy was immers die eerste denker in die 12de eeu om van die nuut ontdekte (of eerder, Grieks-Arabies-Latyn-vertaalde) Organon in sy wetenskapsbegrip gebruik te maak. Die probleem is dat Aristoteles self geen skeptikus was nie. Vir Salisbury was die uitdaging om sy Aristoteles-resepsie met Akademiese skeptisisme te versoen. Bloch se bevinding is dat Salisbury slegs gedeeltelik daarin kon slaag.
27. Grellard (2015:339-376) se bydrae as enkelskrywer in hierdie bundel, John of Salisbury and theology, neem vertrek uit die gegewe dat daar nie sprake van
ʼn teologie as sodanig in Salisbury se werk is nie. Sy letterkundige uitset bevat geen teologie nie, hy het geen pastorale geskrifte geskryf nie en het geen bydrae tot skolastiesese filosofie-teologie gelewer nie, ten spyte daarvan dat hy onder die mees uitgelese filosoof-teoloë van die vroeë 12de eeu gestudeer het, onder andere Abelardus, Gilbertius en Helias, en minstens ses jaar aan die skole in Parys gestudeer het. Ten spyte van sy skolastiese opleiding, staan Salisbury afstandelik teenoor die skolastiese kultuur en die nuwe temas wat vanuit die skole gegenereer sou word. Eerder sou Salisbury volgens Grellard (2015:339) nader aan die topos van die monachus geplaas moes word: hoewel hy nie ʼn orde-monnik was nie, vind hy homself nader aan die klooster as intellektuele ruimte as aan die skole. Tog blyk sy diepe eerbied vir sy teologiese leermeesters duidelik, sowel in die opvoedkundige Metalogicon as in die historiografiese Historia Pontificalis. Die vraag is hoe hierdie eerbied verstaan moet word en of dit wel ʼn omlyning van ʼn teologiese raamwerk by Salisbury kan bemoontlik. Grellard roer hierdie vraag aan deur eerstens breedvoerig na die inhoud van Salisbury se Bybelse kommentaar te verwys. Die boeke wat Salisbury by Chartres-katedraal agtergelaat het, was sonder noemenswaardige uitsondering kommentaartekste en notas oor Bybelse tekste. Die ontleding en bespreking van hierdie tekste is die eerste faset van Grellard se ondersoek. Daarna beweeg Grellard oor om Salisbury uit die trajek van spekulatiewe filosofie te haal en eerder binne die konteks van akademiese skeptisisme te plaas, op grond waarvan ʼn skeptiese fideïsme by Salisbury wel omlynbaar word, wat twee teologiese oorwegings na vore bring: die afwysing van ʼn rasionele ontleding van die aard van die Godheid, en die beklemtoning van die praktiese dimensie van die kultus; anders gestel, die verwerping van die spekulatiewe en die primaat van die politieke. Dit is die twee teologiese elemente wat Grellard in verifikasie met die Salisbury-tekste self geslaagd isoleer.
28. Nederman (2015:258-288; John of Salisbury's political theory) verskaf
ʼn bygewerkte oorsig van die mees onlangse navorsing oor Policraticus, as effektief die eerste werk in politieke filosofie vanuit die Middeleeue, soos in die hoofteks hierbo bespreek.
29. Yves Sassier is
ʼn genoot van die regsfakulteit, sowel as professor in Middeleeuse geskiedenis, aan die Universiteit van Parys-Sorbonne. Sy opstel (2015:235-257), John of Salisbury and law, verken Salisbury se erfenis as regsgeleerde. Sassier dui aan dat hierdie aspek van Salisbury se werk grootliks onderbespreek is, selfs in die nisnavorsing. Tog is dit moontlik om aan te dui dat Salisbury die Codex Justinianus, Pandectae, Institutiones Justiniani en Decretum Gratiani grondig bestudeer en groot gedeeltes daarvan van buite geken het. Sassier (2015:235) beskryf Salisbury se gebruik van regstegniese jargon as 'verstommend akkuraat en presies', in die sin dat hy geen ruimte vir twyfel laat rakende sy kennis van die tersaaklike regsreëls in die sekulêre reg sowel as die kerklike reg nie, veral ten opsigte van appèlprosedures. Wanneer die korrespondensie van Salisbury wat oor regskwessies handel in diepte bestudeer word, is daar by Sassier geen twyfel dat ons in Salisbury met ʼn bona fide en belese regspraktisyn te make het nie. Dit is nogeens ʼn bevestiging van die veelsydigheid en literêre vermoë van Salisbury.
30. Sigbjørn Sønnesyn is
ʼn genoot van die Saxo Instituut aan die Universiteit van Kopenhangen. Hy verken (2015:307-338) in hierdie afdeling, The ethics of John of Salisbury, die etiese inhoude en konsekwensies van Salisbury se werk, wat nogeens met bostaande probleem gekonfronteer word, naamlik hoe om Aristotelianisme en Akademiese skeptisisme met mekaar te versoen. Sønnesyn dui aan dat etiek vir Salisbury die hoogtepunt van filosofiese refleksie verteenwoordig: hy het hom digby morele oorwegings gehou, ongeag die aard van die tema en rubriek waarmee hy besig was. Daar is binne die Saresberiensis-navorsing ʼn bekende aanhaling in Latyn: 'Illa autem quae ceteris philosophiae partibus praeminet ethicam dico, sine que nec philosophi subsistit nomen, collati decoris gratia, omnes alias antecedit' (Daardie deel van filosofie wat bo die ander dele uittroon, noem ek etiek, wat alle ander [dele] verbygaan op grond van haar vermeerdering van skoonheid. Sonder haar sou ook die naam van filosofie nie kon bestaan nie'). Geen vorm van geadministreerde geleerdheid dien volgens Salisbury enige doel indien dit nie tot die goeie lewe, en selfs net ʼn beter lewe, bydra nie. Daarom val die fokus by Salisbury minder op filosofiese etiek en eerder op wat vanuit die moderne gesigspunt 'toegepaste etiek' genoem sou kon word. Tog kan Salisbury nie aan ʼn teoretiese verantwoording van sodanige toegepaste etiek ontkom nie - en dit is juis hierdie verantwoording wat die onderwerp van Sønnesyn se bespreking is.
31. Lachaud se bydrae as enkelskrywer in die oorsigwerk (2015:377-438; Filiation and context - the Medieval afterlife of the Policraticus) ondersoek die resepsie van Policraticus in die 13de en 14de eeue, met aksent op die interpretasie van hierdie politieke filosofie in die stormagtige politieke landskappe in Wes-Europa gedurende die 1300's.
32. By al die winste van hierdie monografie, in terme van die kwaliteit van die navorsing en die argumentatiewe oorspronklikheid daarin aanwesig, moet die oordrewe vakkundig polemiese trant daarvan bevraagteken word. O'Daly vind dit goed om die standpunte en lesings van ongetwyfeld die mees bedrewe Salisbury-frontnavorser van die afgelope twee dekades, Cary Nederman, wat die laaste monografie oor Salisbury in 2005 die lig laat laat sien het, herhaaldelik te bevraagteken, te kritiseer en te polemiseer. Natuurlik is juis die frontnavorser in enige veld nie immuun teen kritiek nie en rus die onus juis op die frontnavorser om op geldige en gevolgryke kritiek te antwoord, ten einde voor in die veld te bly - maar meer nog, ter wille van die akademiese integriteit van die veld self. Gegewe die diskursiewe digtheid en historiese diepte van Middeleeuse filosofie, gebeur dit ook gereeld dat sodanige frontnavorsers op
ʼn bepaalde punt tot die wysiging van ʼn lesing of ʼn standpunt gevra word. Dit gebeur ewe gereeld dat frontnavorsers daardie versoek met erns neem en ʼn premis of ʼn formulering wysig en selfs moet wysig. Dit gebeur egter nie dat ʼn frontnavorser in ʼn bepaalde werk herhaaldelik tot orde geroep en selfs gekasty word oor bepaalde standpunte nie. Die frontnavorser het immers nie tot voor in die veld gevorder op grond van herhaalde misplaasdhede nie. Tog vind O' Daly dit aanneemlik om Nederman herhaaldelik in die hoofteks aan te val - en nie uitsluitlik in voetnota of eindnota om opheldering te versoek, soos wat in terme van goeie etiket in Middeleeuse navorsing die geval is nie. O'Daly opponeer Nederman se klem op die Aristoteliese invloed op die Salisbury-korpus herhaaldelik en uiteindelik voorspelbaar, ten einde haar eie tese van ʼn skerper Romeinse invloed te demonstreer en te legitimeer (vgl. bv. O'Daly 2018:20 ev, 115 ev, 151 ev). Die probleem is dat nie enige van die voorstelle waarmee O'Daly na vore kom in terme van ʼn Romeins geïnspireerde Salisbury, die wesenlike grondslae van ʼn aristotelies geïnspireerde Salisbury verander nie. Dit is ʼn Salisbury met ʼn ietwat ander gelaat en ʼn rooi in stede van ʼn pers mantel - maar diskursief is dit dieselfde Salisbury. O'Daly verruim ongetwyfeld die Saresberiensis-navorsing met haar aksent op die Romeinse bronne. Sy maak ʼn sterk saak daarvoor uit dat Salisbury nie eensydig aristotelies verstaan kan word nie - met die implikasie dat indien dit vir Salisbury geld, daar ook ander 12de- en 13de-eeuse denkers is wat tradisioneel as uit en uit aristotelies verstaan is, terwyl die Romeinse invloed ook moontlik by hulle verbygelees is. Ongetwyfeld is O'Daly se boek ʼn waardevolle toevoeging tot die Saresberiensis-skat. Stilisties en in terme van vak-etiket is die boek egter ook ʼn waarskuwing dat geen navorser in Middeleeuse filosofie daarop geregtig is om die eie tese of eie standpunt - of jouself, inderdaad - te ernstig op te neem nie: daar was baie lesers voor jou, en daar sal baie ná jou wees.

^rND^sBarrau^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBeukes^nJ.^rND^sBloch^nD.^rND^sBollermann^nK.^rND^sNederman^nC.J.^rND^sBollermann^nK.^rND^sNederman^nC.J.^rND^sBrooke^nC.N.L.^rND^sGiraud^nC.^rND^sMews^nC.^rND^sGrellard^nC.^rND^sGrellard^nC.^rND^sLachaud^nF.^rND^sHermand-Schebat^nL.^rND^sKneepkens^nC.H.^rND^sLachaud^nF.^rND^sLuscombe^nD.E.^rND^sMartin^nJ.^rND^sMcGarry^nD.D.^rND^sMonagle^nC.^rND^sMoran^nD.^rND^sNederman^nC.J.^rND^sNederman^nC.J.^rND^sNederman^nC.J.^rND^sPepin^nR.E.^rND^sPoole^nR.L.^rND^sSalisbury^nJ.^rND^sSassier^nY.^rND^sSønnesyn^nS.^rND^sWalzer^nR.^rND^1A01^nPiet J.^sStrauss^rND^1A01^nPiet J.^sStrauss^rND^1A01^nPiet J^sStrauss



Kerkorde en ekumene. Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in die jare 1962-2015



Piet J. Strauss

Department of Historical and Structural Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa





Church order and ecumenism: The Dutch Reformed Church in 1962-2015. The church order accepted by the first General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), the church order or DRC-CO of 1962, showed a preference for ecumenism with reformed churches. However, the term 'correspondence' with which it described the closest possible ties with a reformed church, was not explicit in the details of these ties. When the DRC broke its ties with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in 1976, the former could not explain in practical detail what had happened. The Netherlands church was the last church abroad with which the DRC had close ties. After this, the DRC were questioned more and more and became isolated from other churches outside South Africa because of, as it was called, its theological and moral support of apartheid. Changes within the DRC itself and in South Africa on apartheid in the years 1986-1994 also changed all this. The DRC was again accepted in church circles and became engaged in more ecumenical ties on a multi- as well as bilateral level than ever before.
Intradisciplinary/interdisciplinary implications: This article is of a church-political nature, which helps the church in formulating a church order. It combines church history with church polity and uses it for an ecumenical purpose. Ecumenics concentrates on the relations between churches as a theological discipline. The history of the ecumenics of the Dutch Reformed Church, however, is also connected to its history as a church in the history of South Africa as a country.

Keywords: ecumenical ties; church order; ecumenism aims; relations between churches; Dutch Reformed Church; Reformed Churches in the Netherlands; new spirit/drive; agreement on confessions; main lines of church government.



Inleiding en probleem

Navorsing dui daarop dat die ekumene in die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) binne algemene sinodale verband direk ná sy eerste Algemene Sinode in 1962 vanuit twee uiteenlopende motiewe bedryf is: 'n voorkeur vir 'n omskrewe verhouding met gereformeerde kerke in die binne- en buiteland, asook vir internasionale gereformeerde ekumeniese bewegings én breed omskrewe kontak met Protestantse kerke gerig op dialoog en gesamentlike projekte. Skakeling wat op 'n breë kerklike eenheid soos beliggaam in die Wêreldraad van Kerke (WRK) gemik is. Sommige praat van twee ekumeniese denkskole in die NGK: die meer gereformeerde en die meer algemene groep (Strauss 2002:383).

'Ekumene' word hier gebruik as ʼn term vir betrekkinge tussen Christelike kerke1 waarvan die dieper doel die geloofs- en strukturele eenheid van die kerk van Christus op aarde is (Crafford & Gous 1993:5). Daarby dui die aanvangs- en sluitingsdatum (1962 en 2015) van ons tema op uitstaande datums in die ekumene van die Algemene Sinode van die NGK. Datums wat die verhoudinge van hierdie kerk deur sy Algemene Sinode met ander kerke en ekumeniese liggame as sy jonger NGK-familie raak. In 1962 vergader die eerste Algemene Sinode as die verteenwoordiger van die NGK in ekumeniese betrekkinge met sy nuwe algemene sinodale verband, terwyl die NGK in algemene sinodale verband in 2015 die eerste keer as 'n lid by die WRK verwelkom word (NGK 2007:406; Strauss 2015:80-81, 2018:125).

Die feit dat die eerste Kerkorde van die NGK in hierdie algemene sinodale verband, die Kerkorde van 1962, 'n gereformeerde koers met ekumene inslaan, toon die oorheersende invloed van die gereformeerde denkskool in die saak. J.D. Vorster, 'n verteenwoordiger van die gereformeerde denkskool wat leiding neem by die opstel van die Kerkorde (NGKO 1962), skryf waarskynlik die eerste vier van ses hoofstukke en redigeer die res (Langner 2007:87). As 'n erkenning van sy kennis van kerkordes, wys die Algemene Sinode van 1962 hom as die aktuarius of kerkregkundige van die Sinode en die voorsitter van sy Algemene Regskommissie aan (Van der Watt 1973:165). Vorster noem die konsep van NGKO 1962 in 1960 die 'Dordtse Kerkorde (die DKO van 1619 van die Gereformeerde Kerke in Nederland of net DKO 1619) aangepas by die eise van ons dag' (Vorster 1960:13). 'n NG-Kerkorde wat die Kerkorde van 1959 van die Gereformeerde Kerke in Nederland (GKN-KO) as voorbeeld gebruik en sommige van sy bepalings woordeliks oorneem (NGKO 1962:2, 5, 2015:1, 7). GKN-KO 1959 is destyds in die NGK as 'n eietydse weergawe van DKO 1619 beskou (NGK 1957:73-74). Wat Vorster betref, is die oriëntasie van NGKO 1962 op DKO 1619 via GKN-KO 1959 nie onverwags nie, maar ''n natuurlike vrug, 'n logiese gevolg, 'n sluitsteen, 'n verwagte klimaks in die kerkregtelike ontwikkeling van die NG Kerk' (Vorster 1960:13,17). Dit is dus nie vreemd dat die NGKO 1962 artikel 70 onder die opskrif 'Die (NG) Kerk en ekumeniese betrekkinge' 'n Nederlands-gereformeerde sirkel- of gradebenadering gebruik nie (Nauta 1971:449; NGKO 1962:16). Hierteenoor toon die algemene denkskool in die NGK deurgaans 'n ongevoeligheid teenoor hierdie benadering. Daarna kom ons terug.

Die vraag wat hierdie artikel ondersoek, is: hoe het die NGKO in 1962-2015 sy bepalings oor die NGK en ekumeniese betrekkinge verwoord én het die Algemene Sinode die bepalings uitgevoer? Het die grade- of sirkelbenadering in ekumene in die NGK, sy Algemene Sinode en gemeentes geleef? Hoe het die algemene denkskool op NGKO 1962 gereageer? En het die Kerkordes wat NGKO 1962 opgevolg het, naamlik NGKO 1966, 1970 ensovoorts, in dieselfde spoor geloop?

Etiese oorwegings

Hierdie artikel volg alle etiese standaarde vir navorsing sonder direkte kontak met mense of diere.


DKO artikel 85

In die lig van die feit dat NGKO 1962 as die DKO aangepas by die eise van die dag beskou is, moet die invloed van die DKO op NGKO 1962 artikel 70 vir die NGK in sy ekumeniese betrekkinge ontleed word. Dat NGKO 1962 via die GKN-KO 1959 'n eietydse weergawe van die DKO of die DKO aangepas by die eise van die dag wou wees, moet op hierdie punt ook verreken word. Hiernaas kon die ervaring van die ekumene van die NGK op sinodale vlak, voor die vorming van sy algemene sinodale verband in 1962, NGKO artikel 70 ook beïnvloed het. Dit is nie onmoontlik dat die praktiese ervaring van ekumene in die NGK - in die binne- sowel as die buiteland - tot sommige formulerings in NGKO 1962 oor ekumene gelei het nie.

Nauta (1971:450) wys daarop dat die 16e- en 17e-eeuse Gereformeerde Kerk in Nederland min tot geen aandag aan ekumene met buitelandse kerke gegee het nie. Onder 'Buitenlandsche kerken' bepaal DKO 1619 artikel 85 kortweg: in 'middelmatige dingen' sal die Gereformeerde Kerk ander kerke 'niet verwerpen, die ander gebruiken hebben dan wij' (Pont 1981:186). Wat die DKO hier met 'gebruiken' bedoel, word duideliker uit wat die sinodes in die 16e eeu van die Gereformeerde Kerk in Nederland wat DKO 1619 met hulle eie Kerkordes voorafgaan, in hierdie Kerkordes daarvan gemaak het (Strauss 1991:193). Rutgers (in De Jong 1918:163-175) vat raak met sy stelling dat dit om ritusse en seremonies in die erediens en by die bediening van die sakramente2 om 'adiaphora' of randsake gaan. Hy haak in by Calvyn én Dordt dat middelmatige sake in die kerkleer nie die eenheid van Christelike geloof moet versteur nie (Sizoo s.a.:8-15). Volgens sy interpretasie van DKO artikel 85 mag gebruike nie in die weg van kerkverband tussen gemeentes of van 'correspondentie' tussen kerke van dieselfde belydenis en 'grondslagen van kerkinrichting' staan nie (De Jong 1918:163-175). Korrespondensie of betrekkinge wat impliseer dat hierdie kerke of gemeentes, indien dit geografies moontlik was, in een sinodale verband sou verenig het.

Met hierdie verstaan van die Nederlandse gereformeerde of Dordtse tradisie loop Rutgers in die spore van Calvyn en word hy deur gereformeerde kerkregtelikes soos Van der Linde (1983:275), Spoelstra (1989:468-469) en De Gier (1989:417) ondersteun. Daardeur word 'n grondlyn vir die ekumene of die strewe van gereformeerde kerke na eenheid op die agenda van NGKO 1962 geplaas (Strauss 1991:194).

Die Algemene Sinode van 1990 van die NGK vat die lyn oor kern- en randsake verder as hy aanvoer dat die ekumeniese strewe na kerkeenheid nie 'n strewe na kerklike eendersheid is nie. Volgens die NGK word die geestelike en geloofseenheid tussen kerke nie verhinder deur 'n eie geskiedenis, taalgebruik, omstandighede, liturgieë, sangbundels én belydenisskrifte en kerkordes wat in verskillende situasies ontstaan nie. Leerstellinge en kerklike eenheid loop op kernsake van die geloof en druk 'ingrypende verskille oor Bybelse waarhede' of middelmatige sake na die rand - waar hulle hoort (NGK 1990:547-548). Die Algemene Sinode van 1990 werk dus in die verlengde van Dordt met sy onderskeid tussen kern- en randsake.

Wat DKO 1619 artikel 85 dus op die ekumeniese agenda van die gereformeerde kerke in sy tradisie plaas, is dat die voorwaardes vir ekumene wat lei tot kerkeenheid nie verskil van die voorwaardes vir 'n gereformeerde kerkverband nie. Voorwaardes wat harmonieer met die wyse waarop gemeentes in die NGK mekaar in kerkverband hanteer, sy hantering van geesgenootlike gereformeerde kerke en die oorkoms van lidmate uit die gemeentes van hierdie kerke na sy gemeentes (NGKO 2015:107-117). Daarmee staan die ekumeniese vertrekpunte van die NGK nie los van die uitgangspunte vir die bediening in gemeentes nie. Inteendeel, dit impliseer dat die ekumene vanuit die gemeentes as die kern van kerkwees gestimuleer word. Dat die gemeentes en kerkverband, beide op hulle terrein, geroep is om ekumenies aktief te wees. Wat DKO artikel 85 deurgee, is dat daar die nouste ekumeniese band van gereformeerde kerke, vanweë die aard en inhoud van hulle kerkwees, met ander gereformeerde kerke is. Kerke wat een in belydenis of kernsake van die geloof en in hoofsake van kerkregering is. Hierdie stelling onderstreep 'n sirkelbenadering in ekumene: belydeniskerke nader aan jou is ook kerklik-ekumenies nader aan jou as kerke met ander oortuigings. Nauta het dus gelyk dat die ou Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerk, met sy klem op ander gereformeerde kerke as ekumeniese vennote op pad na daadwerklike kerkeenheid, in beginsel reg is, maar dat dit nie die enigste ekumeniese weg vir gereformeerde kerke mag wees nie. Die algemene Christelike kerk wat hierdie kerke bely, sluit gelowiges uit alle kerke in (Nauta 1971:450). Volgens hom moes die GKN-KO 1959 hierdie korreksie op die DKO aanbring.


GKN-KO 1959 artikel 127-129

Onder die opskrif 'Betrekkingen van de kerk naar buiten' begin die GKN-KO 1959 artikels 127-129 vir die GKN as 'n gereformeerde kerk, by gereformeerde kerke. Met buitelandse kerke van gereformeerde belydenis en kerkregering sal die GKN deur middel van 'correspondentie zoveel mogelijk christelijke gemeenschap' beoefen: gemeenskap deur korrespondensie in 'n 'engere' en 'ruimere' sin. Engere korrespondensie sluit die wedersydse erkenning van die lidmaatskap en attestate van lidmate, 'n oor en weer toelating van bedienaars tot die bediening van die Woord en sakramente en die stuur van gesante na die sinodes van die ander kerk in. Dit is korrespondensie wat gevoer word met kerke 'in het buitenland' wat die belydenis 'metterdaad handhaven'. Met ander kerke - ongekwalifiseerd - is slegs ruimere korrespondensie moontlik. Laasgenoemde bestaan dan uit die stuur van afgevaardigdes na mekaar se sinodes (Nauta 1971:449, 456).

Uit GKN-KO 1959 artikel 127 volg dat ander binnelandse gereformeerde kerke (in Nederland is daar talle) nie vir engere korrespondensie kwalifiseer nie, omdat 'n gemeenskaplike belydenis en dieselfde tipe kerkregering beteken dat hulle en die GKN een kerkverband in die een land - 'n sinodale verband - moes gevorm het. 'n Kerkverband wat die oor en weer erkenning van lidmaatskap en die toelating van ander kerke se bedienaars van die Woord tot die bediening van die Woord en sakramente as 'n normale praktyk beoefen. Deur nie in korrespondensie met hulle te tree nie, weerhou die GKN sy sanksie en goedkeuring van wat beskou kan word as 'n sondige, strukturele verskeurdheid te midde van 'n eenheid in belydenissake. Daardie soort eenheid tussen gemeentes wat lei tot een kerkverband. Wat GKN-KO artikel 127 wel oopmaak, is die moontlikheid van 'n ruimere korrespondensie met nie-gereformeerde kerke.

In sy kommentaar op hierdie artikel voer Nauta (1971:450-453) aan dat ooreenstemming in belydenis en kerkregering onder gereformeerde kerke gerig is op 'de grote lijnen'. Hy beaam dus die Algemene Sinode van 1990 van die NGK se onderskeid tusen kerkeenheid en kerklike eendersheid. Daarmee bevestig hy 'n belangrike gereformeerde uitgangspunt vir die ekumene én vir sinodale kerkeenheid (Strauss 2010:84). Vir Nauta is Christelike geloofsgemeenskap deel van die wese van die kerk. Daarsonder verloor 'n kerk sy reg op bestaan as kerk. Hierdie gemeenskap vind in Christus sy grondslag en krag. Kerke moet hulle met mekaar 'in laten' en in hulle gemeenskap 'iets voor elkander zijn '. Korrespondensie in die ekumeniese sin van die woord het 'n 'technische term' onder gereformeerdes geword. Om een of ander rede glo Nauta egter nie dat die onderskeiding van hierdie twee soorte korrespondensies lank deur die GKN-KO gebruik sal word nie. Hy ontken nie dat gereformeerde kerke die belydenis 'metterdaad' moet handhaaf nie. Daarsonder ontbreek 'de waarborg van een getroue ambtsbedieningen van een zuivere belijdenis en wandel der leden'. Nauta volstaan met die bepaling dat die Generale Sinode van die GKN betrekkinge na buite bepaal (Nauta 1971:450-453).

Die ooreenkomste tussen GKN-KO 1959 artikel 127 en NGKO 1962 artikel 70 is opvallend.


NGKO 1962 artikel 70 en sy opvolgers

NGKO 1962 artikel 70(b) neem GKN-KO artikel 127.1 woord vir woord oor. Soos artikel 127.1 in GKN-KO 1959, gebruik NGKO 1962 artikel 70(b) die term 'korrespondensie' met kerke van gereformeerde belydenis en kerkregering in die buiteland ook ongekwalifiseerd. Omdat hierdie korrespondensie in 1962 egter as 'n Fremdkörper in die NGK oorkom, word dit verduidelikend maar verskralend aangevul met slegs een van die sake wat die GKN onder engere korrespondensie plaas: 'hulle emigrerende lidmate sal met attestasie ontvang word'. NGKO 1962 artikel 70 (b) soek, soos GKN-KO 1959 artikel 129 in sy 'contact' met 'andere' kerke, moontlik ook 'kontak' met kerke van 'n 'algemeen Protestants-Christelike belijdenis'. Hy wil dus ook kerkeenheid in die algemeen bevorder. Verder as die Protestantse kerke kom hy egter nie. Vanuit sy ekumeniese geskiedenis - breër as dié van die 16e-eeuse Gereformeerde Kerk in Nederland wat net op gereformeerdes gerig was - was ekumene buite die Protestantisme vir die NGK teen 1962 ondenkbaar en dus onbestaanbaar. Verder het sy kerklik-teologiese verbondenheid met die GKN, die enigste buitelandse kerk met wie hy engere korrespondensie of susterskerkverhoudinge gehad het (GKN Rotterdam 1952-1953, artikel 294; Strauss 1983:64-69), die gereformeerde ekumeniese voorkeure van die NGK in hierdie stadium gestimuleer.3 Soos die Generale Sinode van die GKN, het die Algemene Sinode 'die aard en/of graad' van ekumeniese betrekkinge bepaal. NGK-lidmaatskap van internasionale kerklike organisasies 'op ekumeniese grondslag' moes egter met 'n tweederdemeerderheid van die Algemene Sinode beslis word (NGKO 1962:16). Hierdie bepaling in NGKO artikel 70(d) volg op die trauma van Sharpeville en ander plekke van onrus in Suid-Afrika in 1960 en die kritiese Cottesloe-beraad - oor apartheid - wat in Desember 1960 as 'n kerkeberaad van sy Suid-Afrikaanse lidkerke op inisiatief van die WRK gehou is. 'n Beraad wat diep spore op die ekumene en die emosies rondom die ekumene van die NGK in die volgende dekades gelaat het (Strauss 1989:156-161). Die gereformeerde denkskool wat pro-apartheid ingestel was en wie se invloed op NGKO 1962 sterk was, wou toekomstige lidmaatskap van die WRK deur die NGK met hierdie bepaling bemoeilik. Dieselfde denkskool is deur die anti-Cottesloe en anti-WRK-sentiment wat ná 1960 deur die NGK gespoel het, versterk. 'n Denkskool wat die NGK deur sy Algemene Sinode aan gereformeerde liggame soos die Gereformeerde Ekumeniese Sinode (GES) en Presbiteriaanse Wêreldalliansie (PWA), in 1962 en 1966 onderskeidelik, eerder as aan die WRK verbind het (Strauss 2002:383-384, 2018:124).

Wat opvallend in NGKO 1962 artikel 70 is, is uitdrukkings en gedagtes wat aan die GKN-KO en daarmee aan sy Dordtse agtergrond ontleen is. Die grade- of sirkelbenadering in die Nederlands-gereformeerde ekumene word by implikasie, maar verskraald, oorgeneem. In dieselfde gebrekkige trant word kontak ('n enkele draadjie van ekumene!) in plaas van geloofsgemeenskap met Protestantse kerke binne- en buitelands gesoek. NGKO 1962 skep sy eie weergawe van die GKN-KO se ekumeniese middele as hy met gereformeerde kerke in die buiteland deur middel van korrespondensie (dit word nie omskryf nie) gemeenskap wil beoefen én hulle emigrerende lidmate met attestasie wil ontvang. By NGKO 1962 artikel 70 staan korrespondensie en die ontvangs van lidmate uit ander kerke, anders as in die GKN-KO, dus los van mekaar (NGKO 1962:16). By die verbreking van sy 'bande' met die GKN in 1976 bly die NGK in gebreke om die aard van dié bande ná die breuk te omskryf - selfs op 'n vraag van die GKN oor wat nou prakties gebreek is. Ná die Algemene Sinode van 1978 stuur die Direkteur van Ekumeniese Sake van die NGK, F.E. O'Brien Geldenhuys, aan die GKN 'n boodskap dat die NGK sy bande met die GKN tans beskou as bande met 'n kerk met wie hy 'geen besondere bande het nie' (Korrespondensielêers GKN-NGK 1974-1979). Meer niksseggend en afsydig kan hy beslis nie wees nie. Nie NGKO 1962 artikel 70 - gehandhaaf in NGKO 1974 én NGKO 1978 artikel 70 - of kommentaar daarop kon die situasie beredder nie. In 1978 bepaal NGKO 1978 artikel 70 - soos NGKO 1962 artikel 70 - steeds dat die NGK met kerke van gereformeerde belydenis en kerkregering in die buiteland deur middel van 'korrespondensie Christelike gemeenskap' beoefen én hulle 'emigrerende lidmate met attestasie' ontvang (NGKO 1978:19).

Die erkenning van lidmaatskap en attestate oor en weer word deur die NGK dus nie woordeliks by korrespondensie ingesluit nie. Maar omdat NGKO 1974 sy korrespondensie nie uitdruklik omskryf nie, kon hierdie verbreekte korrespondensie as term vir die NGK se 'bande' wel blote gesprek of 'n verkennende kontak insluit. Of het die NGK die GKN, op grond van die sinodale sake waaroor hulle verskil, so ver weggestoot dat hy hom uitsluit van enige gesprek? Het die NGK die GKN verban soos in die uiterste konsekwensie van 'n tugsaak? Sommige in die NGK het die verbreking van bande beskou as nie net die opsê van die besonderhede van die bestaande verhouding tussen die NGK en GKN nie, maar selfs van gesprek (Strauss 1992:76-77). Die Algemene Sinode, as die vertolker van sy eie Kerkorde en besluite, het hierdie onduidelikheid nooit opgeklaar nie. 'n Ekstra besluit oor die 'verbreekte bande'-besluit van 1974 op sigself sou ook 'n verleentheid wees omdat dit 'n onvolledigheid aan die kant van die NGK impliseer. Ná vier jaar se gebruik van 'verbreekte bande', waarin sommige mense aanvaar het dat dit die beëindiging van gesprek kan beteken, het die saak tot 'n onopgeloste einde gekom. 'n Einde waarvoor figure by NGKO mede-aanspreeklikheid moes aanvaar (Strauss 1992:76-77). 'n Einde waarvan die algemene denkskool in die NGK kerklik en teologies uitgesluit was en waartoe hulle ook nie 'n bydrae gelewer het nie. Die gesprekke met die GKN in 1968, 1970, 1974 en 1975 is deur lede van die gereformeerd geneigde moderatuur gevoer wat die saak met geesgenote hanteer het (Strauss 1983:219, 273, 367-368, 420) Dit is dus moontlik dat die algemene denkskool met hulle stilte oor kerkorde en ekumene, oor NGKO 1974 artikel 70, die speelveld vir die dominerende gereformeerde skool oopgelaat het.

Met betrekking tot die enigste buitelandse gereformeerde kerk met wie die NGK 'naby' ekumene of 'bande' gehad het, was NGKO artikel 70 dus nie verhelderend of bruikbaar nie. Hierdie situasie sou eers met NGKO 1998 verlig word (NGKO 1998:27).


NGK geïsoleer

Voordat NGKO 1962 artikel 70 deur die Algemene Sinode van 1998 gewysig is, sou die NGK in 1974-1986 - ná die ultimatumbesluit van die Algemene Sinode van 1974 teenoor die GKN en voor die interne wending oor apartheid deur die Algemene Sinode van 1986 met Kerk en Samelewing 1986 - ekumenies geïsoleer word (Strauss 2002:183). Sy teologiese en morele steun aan apartheid, soos dit deur kritici genoem is (Perret, die Algemene Sekretaris van die WBGK in 'n brief aan die NGK soos in NGK 1982:1018; Strauss 2004:105), was die rede hiervoor. Ná die sogenaamde verbreking van sy 'bande' met die GKN in 1978, sou die NGK as 'n lidkerk by die Wêreldbond van Gereformeerde Kerke of WBGK (hierdie naam vervang PWA in 1970) in 1982 en by die GES in 1984 (hy word die Gereformeerde Ekumeniese Raad of GER in 1988) skerp onder skoot kom. Sy lidmaatskap van dié liggame was in daardie stadium die enigste omskrewe buitelandse ekumeniese betrekkinge van die NGK. Stram betrekkinge met hierdie twee liggame sou ook 'n stremmende invloed hê op die houding van buitelandse gereformeerde kerke teenoor die NGK (Strauss 2004:108-110). By Ottawa 1982 word die NGK deur 'n meerderheid van 220-20 deur die Algemene Vergadering as 'n lid van die WBGK geskors (Perret in NGK 1982:1018). Die stemtotale toon dat die NGK vir sy steun aan apartheid min steun uit die gereformeerde kerke teenwoordig gekry het. Boonop verklaar die WBGK dat sy weerstand teen die teologiese en morele regverdiging van apartheid op die vlak van 'n status confessionis (die vlak of status van 'n belydenis as die sterkste vorm van kerklike afkeur) lê. Die NGK is volgens hom skuldig aan 'n dwaling oor 'n fundamentele waarheid van die Evangelie, naamlik dat alle mense gelyk geskape is as beelddraers van God (NGK 1982:1020-1024). Teenoor hierdie veroordelende besluit van die WBGK, versoek die GES-1984 die NGK en die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika (GKSA) om hulle self te toets of hulle met hulle steun aan apartheid aan dwaalleer of 'n ideologie soos deur die GES omskryf, skuldig is. Hulle moet in 1986 daaroor aan die Interimkomitee rapporteer. Ook die GES, die NGK se naaste kerklike familie of gees ge no te in die wêreld, oordeel dat 'n status confessionis hier ter sprake is (RES 1984:90vv). By die GES-1992 in Athene steun die afgevaardigdes van die NGK 'n besluit wat apartheid in al sy vorme, teoreties en prakties, tot sonde verklaar. Die NGK se reaksie op hierdie besluit stel die GES tevrede en sy lidmaatskap van die GES word genormaliseer. Gevolglik stap die GES af van die NGK en apartheid as 'n agendapunt (REC 1992:18). In 1998 aanvaar die Algemene Sinode van die NGK 'n besluit van die WBGK-Debrecen van 1997 oor die verwerping van apartheid wat die WBGK tevrede stel. Die WBGK praat van die 'forced separation' van verskillende rasse wat die fundamentele Bybelse waarheid - 'it cannot be denied by Christians' - ontken dat alle mense gelyk geskape is 'in the image of God' (NGK 1998:412vv; WRK-Argief Ref 215/

Ná 1962, veral in die kritieke jare 1974-1986, speel NGKO artikel 70 geen beduidende rol in die buitelandse ekumene van die NGK nie. Binnelands word die verhouding van die NGK met twee ander Afrikaanse gereformeerde kerke, die Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika en die Gereformeerde Kerk in Suid-Afrika, in die Tussenkerklike Kommissie bestendig, die minimale kontak met kerke buite hierdie kring behou en die verhoudinge in die NGK-familie algaande versuur. Wat die buiteland betref, is die 'bande' met die GKN in 1974-1978 verbreek sonder dat 'n onbekookte NGKO 1974 òf NGKO 1978 artikel 70 - die twee NGKO's van destyds - van hulp kon wees. Die gereformeerde denkskool wat 'n deurslaggewende aandeel in die opstel van NGKO artikel 70 by Algemene Sinodes sedert 1962 gehad het, het ook nooit die omstrede word 'band' (Engels 'tie') wat J.D. Vorster in sy ultimatumvoorstel van 1974 gebruik het, verduidelik of omskryf nie. Gesien die denkwêreld waaruit NGKO artikel 70 kom én die formulering van die artikel, was 'bande' 'n kerkordelik vreemde, misleidende 'term'. Op sigself beskou is 'n bestaande band immers vas en 'n verbreekte band heeltemal los. Tog het die NGK sy verstaan van kerklike bande nie verduidelik nie. As die GKN die onduidelikheid oor die 'verbreekte bande' soos geloods vanuit die NGK op die spits wou dryf, sou dit die morele laagtepunt waarop die 'bande' beëindig is, vererger het. Sou rooi gesigte in die NGK oor die onverklaarde, onduidelike 'bande' verdiep het (Die Burger 17 Oktober 1974:1).

Die gewraakte tweederdemeerderheid van die Algemene Sinode vir lidmaatskap van die NGK van ekumeniese liggame was in 1962-1986 ook nie dienstig aan die gereformeerde denkskool nie. Hierdie bepaling is wel by die Algemene Sinode van 1986 suksesvol téén die Breë Moderatuur gebruik wat die NGK ná die kritiek van die GES-1984 op sy steun aan apartheid uit dié liggaam wou neem. Die Breë Moderatuur kon nie 'n tweederdemeerderheid vir sy voorstel tot, soos hy dit opnuut gestel het, 'verbreekte bande' met die GES kry nie. Hy het dus gestuit op die, vir hom, aanvaarde kerkordebepaling uit 1962 wat 'n nuwe NG-aansoek om lidmaatskap van die WRK ná Cottesloe in 1960 wou verhoed (NGK 1986:661).

Van 'n duidelike gereformeerd-kerkordelike begrip in omvattende ekumene was daar in die NGKO op hierdie stadium nie sprake nie.

Teen 1986 was die NGK tydelik uit die WBGK geskors, moes hy nog reageer op 'n ernstige versoek van die GES om sy gereformeerde identiteit in die oë van hierdie kerke te behou én het sy betrekkinge met indiwiduele gereformeerde kerke in die buiteland afgekoel of tot stilstand gekom. Daar was nie gedefinieerde kerklike 'bande' met 'n buitelandse kerk nie. NGKO artikel 70 het geen rol in die ekumene van die NGK gespeel nie omdat dit onbruikbaar was. Die groot rede vir die isolasie van die NGK was sy steun aan apartheid. Boonop was NGKO artikel 70 grootliks onbruikbaar. Ten opsigte van apartheid het buitelandse geesgenote vir 'n wending gevra. 'n Wending wat sy posisie in beide die GES en WBGK sou herstel. Dit is aangetoon. Oor artikel 70 was daar - soos dit soms met hierdie sake in die NGKO gaan - geen debat in die NGK nie. As daar debat was, was dit binne die mure van die Algemene Regskommissie van die Algemene Sinode. Die NGK in algemene sinodale verband het die kwessie van 'kerkorde en ekumene' nie deeglik gedebatteer en deurtrap nie. Daarom het die kerkregtelik vreemde begrip 'bande' ná 1974 die effense gesprek wat daar wel was, vir meer as 'n dekade onwillekeurig oorheers. NGKO artikel 70 oor die ekumene was nie 'n lewende, goed deurwrogte rigsnoer vir die Algemene Sinode of NGK-gemeentes nie.

Ná 'n regeringsoordrag en die amptelike afskeid van staatkundige apartheid in Suid-Afrika in 1994, sou die NGK hom in 'n nuwe, veranderde ekumeniese situasie bevind. Sy steun aan apartheid was die bepaler van sy ekumene in 1962-1998. Met die verdwyning van wetlike apartheid en die NGK se herhaalde gedefinieerde en later volle verwerping daarvan in 1986-1990-1994-1998 (Meiring 2008:203; Strauss 2004:110-111), sou die tema 'NGK en apartheid' ná 1994 van ekumeniese agendas verdwyn (Strauss 2002:391-393). Die NGK was ekumenies weer aanvaarbaar.


NGK in 'n nuwe ekumeniese situasie

Kerkhistories beskou was die Algemene Sinode van 1998 se aanvaarding van die 'joint resolution' van die WBGK in 1997 by Debrecen sy eie formele afskeid van apartheid (NGK 1998:412-413; WRK-Argief Ref 215/9.2.2,1/10). Soos by die GES-Athene 1992 het die NGK hier 'n formulering aanvaar waarvoor hyself nie verantwoordelik was nie en waarop hy aanvaarbaar of reg moes reageer. In beide gevalle is sy steun aan apartheid in die skerpste kerklike taal veroordeel. Hierdie prosedure was skynbaar vir die ekumeniese wêreld én vir gemeentes of lidmate van NGK-gemeentes aanvaarbaar. Vanuit laasgenoemde is die besluit van die Algemene Sinode om die 'joint resolution' van die WBGK te aanvaar in stilte en sonder 'n duidelike teenstem aangehoor. Vanuit die ekumeniese gemeenskap is die NGK ná 1992-1998 hartlik, byna soos die verlore seun, deur indiwiduele kerke en ekumeniese liggame ontvang (Strauss 2013:46).

Sonder die las van apartheid is die NGK onmiddellik in ekumeniese organisasies binne en buite Suid-Afrika opgeneem en sy verteenwoordigers op besture en komitees verkies. Los van die NGKO en sy ekumene het die insig by die Algemene Sinode posgevat dat sy deelname aan 'n ekumeniese liggaam nie beteken dat die algemene vergadering van hierdie liggaam 'n supersinode word en die NGK mede-verantwoordelikheid vir al sy besluite aanvaar nie. Die insig het begin groei dat ekumeniese liggame praatforums is waar kerke uit vrye wil besluit om sake saam te omskryf en te pak (Strauss 2015:81). Daarmee het die rede vir NGKO 2015 artikel 70.4 se tweederdemeerderheid van die Algemene Sinode om tot 'n ekumeniese liggaam toe te tree (NGKO 2015:22) bloot van akademiese belang geword. Die oorgrote meerderheid by opeenvolgende Algemene Sinodes wou ten alle koste wegkom van die beeld van die NGK as 'n ekumeniese swartskaap.

Op versoek van die Algemene Sinode van 1994 (NGK 1994:591) word die NGK in 1995 by die Suid-Afrikaanse Raad van Kerke (SARK) - 'n opponent en vreemdeling vir die NGK sedert die stigting van die SARK in 1968 - as 'n lid met waarnemerstatus verwelkom. In sy uitgebreide verslag oor ekumene -'n nuwe bries in die agendas van die Algemene Sinode - aan die Sinode van 2002 vermeld die Algemene Sinodale Kommissie (ASK) dat die harte en deure van kerke in die SARK vir die NGK 'letterlik' oopgegaan het. Sedert 1994 behandel die SARK die NGK asof laasgenoemde oor volwaardige lidmaatskap beskik. Die NGK word by alle aksies van die SARK betrek en een van sy dominees is selfs die voorsitter van die Finansiële Komitee. Talle NGK-sinodes werk met streeksrade van die SARK en selfs in gemeentes is daar gesamentlike projekte (NGK 2002:392). In sy motivering vir die NGK om volle lid van die SARK te word, gebruik die ASK onder meer die argument dat die SARK 'net 'n adviserende liggaam is wat lidkerke nie kan bind aan besluite nie' (NGK 2002:391-392). Lidkerke kan die besluite van die SARK 'na goeddunke' hanteer (NGK 2002:391-392). Hierdie houding bring mee dat die NGK hom van enige besluit van die SARK kan distansieer en nie gebonde is aan al die besluite van hierdie liggaam nie. Dit was in die 1960's en later in tye van ernstige verskille met die SARK 'n ernstige probleem by die NGK. In 2004 gee die SARK gehoor aan die versoek van die Algemene Sinode om volle lidmaatskap aan die NGK te verleen (Strauss 2015:82).

In 2007 besluit die Algemene Sinode, ná besinning van meer as 'n dekade, om aansoek te doen om lid van die WRK te word. Sy redes is drieledig: die WRK is net 'n oorlegplatform vir kerke en nie 'n supersinode nie, lidmaatskap skep die moontlikheid vir kontak met kerke oor die wêreld heen én die NGK kan sy getuienis hier in 'n wêreldwye kerkegemeenskap lewer (NGK 2007 I:404-406; III 201). In 2015 verwelkom die WRK die NGK as 'n volle lid (Strauss 2018:125).

Naas ekumeniese instellings soos die WBGK, wat in 2010 die Wêreldgemeenskap van Gereformeerde Kerke (WGGK) word en by hierdie geleentheid verenig met die kleiner GER, soos die WRK en die SARK, skakel die NGK ná 1994 buitelands in by die Lausanne-beweging, World Reformed Felllowship, Global Christian Forum en Communion of Reformed Churches in Africa. Laasgenoemde is 'n streeksliggaam van die WGGK. Binnelands word die NGK 'n lid van die Konvent van Reformatoriese Kerke in Suider-Afrika en die Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, terwyl hy sy lidmaatskap van die Tussenkerklike Raad (TKR) van die drie Afrikaanse Kerke en die Federale Raad van die NG-familie voortsit (NGK 2011:250-253; NGKO 2002:36,). Daarmee wis die NGK nie net sy isolasie van 1974-1986 uit nie, maar word hy ook meer betrokke by ekumeniese verhoudinge as voor Cottesloe.


'n Nuwe blaadjie vir NGKO 1998

Intussen sou NGKO artikel 70, wat in 1986 NGKO artikel 71 (NGKO 1986:20-21) en in 1998 NGKO artikel 68 word (NGKO 1998:27), in 1998 'n nuwe blaadjie omslaan. Die nuwe artikel begin met die NGK se voorneme om met 'ander Christelike kerke' - ongekwalifiseerd - saam te werk en 'n gemeenskaplike boodskap uit te dra. Die 'aard en graad' van betrekkinge met ander kerke of kerkgemeenskappe (die NGKO gebruik hierdie 'Dopper'-term vir 'n kerkverband tussen gemeentes as, in gereformeerde terme, volledig kerk) word bepaal deur 'n gewone meerderheidstem van die Algemene Sinode. Op hierdie punt word die tipies gereformeerde grade- of sirkelbenadering gebruik as bepaal word dat die graad en wyse van kerklike samewerking bepaal word deur 'die graad van ooreenstemming' ten opsigte van die belydenis, regering, erediens en opvatting van die Christelike lewenswandel van 'die betrokke kerk'. NGKO 1998 artikel 68 brei dus die gereformeerd beproefde eenheid in belydenis en hoofsake van kerkregering uit met die erediens en die siening van die Christelike lewenswandel. Die onmiddellike vraag wat hieruit ontstaan is of die erediens in sommige NG-gemeentes in die NG-kerkverband nie al so ver van die NGK se grondlyne vir die erediens soos bepaal deur die Algemene Sinode afgewyk het, dat die vereistes vir ekumene hieroor nou hoër gemaak word as vir sy eie gemeentes in sinodale verband nie (Strauss 2013:124). Daarby plaas die Christelike lewenswandel soos dit hier gebruik word etiese lewenskwessies op dieselfde vlak as belydenis- of kernkwessies van die Christelike geloof. Dit gaan oor etiese vrae wat nie, soos belydenisskrifte en hoofsake van kerkregering, hulle tyd van ontstaan oorstyg nie. Die Christelike lewenswandel loop inhoudelik soms so wisselend en wyd dat 'n konstante eenheid van oortuigings daaroor as 'n basis vir ekumene na 'n onbegonne saak lyk. Is die doel van NGKO artikel 70 dat kerklike betrekkinge bepaal word deur vloeibare - veral ten opsigte van die grade van weerstand daarteen en die openbare ergerlikheid daarvan - kwessies rondom sake soos egskeiding en homoseksualiteit? Kan kerklike verhoudinge bestendig op onbestendige, wisselende besluite oor aktuele kwessies?4 Word die besluite van elke Sinode van gereformeerde kerke oor lewenskwessies 'n potensiële maak of breek vir verhoudinge met die NGK?

Ten opsigte van lidmaatskap van ekumeniese organisasies handhaaf NGKO 1998 die bepaling dat die Algemene Sinode met 'n tweederdemeerderheid daaroor besluit - 'n reëling wat die kerkregtelike wenkbroue steeds laat lig. Die vraag is of die verhouding met 'n gereformeerde kerk wat jou kansels en die bediening van die sakramente in gemeentes vir hom oopstel, met ander woorde 'n volle verhouding, minder belangrik is as jou plek op 'n kerklike praatforum. Of maak die groter getal kerke in ekumeniese liggame bloot vanweë hulle getalle meer indruk as 'n enkele kerk? Word die ware kerk volgens die Nederlandse Geloofsbelydenis nie eerder herken aan drie merktekens wat in die gemeente voorkom nie, naamlik die suiwere prediking van die Woord, die suiwere bediening van die sakramente en die handhawing van die kerklike tug (NG Kerk-Uitgewers 1982:29)? En, as die aanvaarding van belydenisskrifte ten grondslag van 'n suiwer prediking en bediening van die Woord afhang van 'n kerklike tweederdemeerderheid, lê deelname aan kerklike praatforums op dieselfde vlak? Dra dit net soveel gewig? Kan 'n gereformeerde kerk met sy ononderhandelbare klem op die gemeente as volledig kerk so 'n besluit neem? Waarom maak NGKO artikel 70 die lidmaatskap van adviserende vergaderings van kerke wat jou nié teen jou sin bind nie afhanklik van 'n tweederdemeerderheid by die Algemene Sinode? Kan dit wat 'n kerk as blote advies kry, hom kompromitteer of diskrediteer? Is ongebondenheid of die gebrek aan 'n verpligte instemming aan die besluite van die WRK nie juis een van die redes waarom die NGK 'n lid geword het nie? Sit die NGK nie hier opgesaal met 'n ongegronde emosionele res teen die WRK van bykans 60 jaar gelede nie? 'n Res wat in 1962 in 'n emosionele behoefte moes voorsien en sedertdien eenvoudig gekontinueer is? 'n Res wat daarna nie 'n belangrike faktor was en - met die uitsondering van sy lidmaatskap van die GES in 1986 - nie 'n rol in die NGK òf in sy beprekings oor ekumene gespeel het nie.


NGK se ekumene groei

In sy verslag aan die Algemene Sinode van 2002 oor ekumeniese verhoudings maak die Moderamen gewag van 'n verskeidenheid ekumeniese liggame in Suid-Afrika, Afrika en internasionaal waaraan hy behoort (NGK 2002:402-409; NGKO 2002:36). Die oorgrote meerderheid hiervan, waaronder 'n lys van Protestantse ekumeniese liggame, is reeds genoem. In 2002 is daar ook drie kerke in die buiteland met wie die NGK sy nuut omskrewe volle betrekkinge onderhou - min of meer die GKN se ou korrespondensie - en 10 kerke met wie hy dialoogverhoudinge het. Na hierdie onderskeid word teruggekom. Die NGK is in 2002 ekumenies besiger as ooit tevore.

By dieselfde Sinode aanvaar die NGK 'n aantal uitgangspunte vir ekumeniese betrekkinge. Hierdie punte word as sinodebesluite aan NGKO artikel 70 toegevoeg. Daarvolgens strek die eenheid van die kerk van Christus oor die grense van tyd, plek, volk, taal, gebruike en kulture asook oor die verskeidenheid in aanbidding, konfessionele uitdrukkings, formuliere en kerkstrukture. Dit gaan om 'n komplementerende verskeidenheid in die eenheid van die kerk wat nie in 'n geskeidenheid moet ontaard nie. Kerke moet saam na die waarheid van die Woord van die Here soek. 'n Waarheid wat nie ter wille van eenheid prysgegee moet word nie.

In die aanloop tot die uiteensetting van sy ekumeniese verhoudinge verklaar die NGK dat hy multilaterale verhoudinge met ekumeniese liggame én bilaterale verhoudinge met indiwiduele kerke in die binne- én buiteland het. Die multilaterale verhoudinge of lidmaatskap van ekumeniese liggame is vroeër uiteengesit. Onder bilaterale verhoudinge plaas die NGK, in die besluite by NGKO 2002 artikel 70, vier soorte verhoudinge. Verhoudinge wat, soos die res van die NGK se betrekkinge, deur die Ekumeniese Kommissie van die Moderamen onderhandel en by die Algemene Sinode vir 'n gewone meerderheid aanbeveel word (NGKO 2002:32-36).

Volgens sy gradebenadering kan die NGK met ander kerke volle, gedeeltelike, dialoog- of kontakverhoudinge aanknoop. 'n Volle verhouding word aangegaan met 'n kerk van gereformeerde belydenis. Dit omvat onder meer die stuur van afgevaardigdes na mekaar se sinodes, die wedersydse toelating van predikante op die kansels, 'n oor en weer toelating van lidmate tot die nagmaalstafel, gesamentlike optrede in sake van gemeenskaplike belang, die versorging van mekaar se lidmate waar nodig, die erkenning van mekaar se teologiese opleiding en die beroepbaarheid van predikante oor en weer. Laasgenoemde kan gebeur met inagneming van die spesifieke vereistes vir die bediening in die gemeente wat beroep.

Hierdie voorbeelde roep egter vrae uit 'n gereformeerd-kerklike hoek op. Die eerste vraag is hoekom sommige belangrike kwessies verskralend uitgelaat is: die oor en weer erkenning van lidmaatskap en attestate; die toelating tot die doop; en eenheid in die hoofsake van kerkregering en inrigting. Aan die positiewe kant word die 'bande' van 1974 nou omskryf en vaartbelyn gemaak. Dit is duidelik dat die Algemene Sinode glo dat ekumene kerkordelik nie koersloos mag wees nie en dat 'n gereformeerde gradebenadering van 'n duidelike inhoud voorsien moet word. Sy verwysing in NGKO artikel 70 na verhoudinge wat bepaal word deur, onder meer, gemeenskaplike belydenisse en kerkregering impliseer dat gereformeerde kerke nader aan mekaar staan as ander kerke met wie daar nie eenheid in hierdie sake is nie.

Gedeeltelike verhoudinge word gelaat vir kerke met wie die NGK nie 'volle verhoudinge' het nie. Dit gaan hier om kerke van gereformeerde oortuiginge soos uitgedruk in reformatoriese belydenisskrifte. 'n Gedeeltelike verhouding veronderstel dat 'n volle verhouding kan volg; dit gaan oor kerklike samewerking, 'n saampraat oor gemeenskaplike kwessies en 'n wedersydse versorging van mekaar se lidmate indien daartoe versoek. Ter wille van sy eie inligting met die oog op vordering in ekumeniese sake beywer die NGK hom in die derde plek vir dialoogverhoudinge met kerke. Hier gaan dit oor kerke wat nie 'noodwendig' op dieselfde belydenisgrondslag as die NGK staan nie. Daarnaas het die NGK kontakverhoudinge in die oog. Kortweg gaan dit om insidentele kontak sonder om ooreenkomste soos binne die ander verhoudinge, in die vooruitsig testel (NGKO 2002:32-34).

Behalwe dat NGKO 2002 aantoon met watter kerke die NGK in volle en dialoogverhoudinge staan, word hierdie sake in die Handelinge van die Algemene Sinode van 2002 vervat (NGK 2002:387; NGKO 2002:32-34). By die Algemene Sinode van 2011 word 'volle verhoudinge' in die notule egter vermeng met die omstrede 'bande'. Die acta gebruik die uitdrukking 'volle ekumeniese bande' (NGK 2007:109). 'n Niksseggende term waarvan die NGK, ná die groot verleentheid van die 1970's, skynbaar nog nie ontslae geraak het nie. Die lys van kerke met wie daar volle, gedeeltelike, dialoog- en kontakbetrekkinge is - en wat ná 2002 van tyd tot tyd gewysig word - word aan artikel 70 van die NGKO gekoppel en ná 2011 in die Reglement vir die Verhouding met ander Kerke en Groepe opgeneem (NGKO 2004:36, 2007:36-37, 2011:98-99, 2013:103-105). Verblydend is dat die drie kerke met wie daar in 2002 volle verhoudinge is in 2015 na 11 kerke aangroei - volle verhoudinge wat beteken dat hierdie kerke met mekaar kan begin praat oor die strukture van groter kerkeenheid.



Die NGK probeer, vanaf 1962 by sy eerste Algemene Sinode tot ná 2015, 'n kerkordelik-gereformeerde pad met sy ekumene loop. Hierdie pad word egter nie deurgaans uitgespel nie. In dié verband was die rol van NGKO 1974 in die sogenaamde ultimatumbesluit van die Algemene Sinode van daardie jaar oor verbreekte bande met die GKN kerkordelik 'n laagtepunt. Vanweë 'n onbeholpe formulering van NGKO 1974 artikel 70, wat onveranderd vanaf NGKO 1962 artikel 70 kom, was NGKO 1974 nutteloos vir die kerkregtelike vertolking van wat die NGK as 'verbreekte bande' beskou het. Ná 1994 het die prentjie van isolasie vir die ekumene van die NGK verander en is hy hartlik deur kerke wêreldwyd in ekumeniese verhoudinge verwelkom. Boonop is NGKO 1994 artikel 70 in 1998 gewysig om 'n kerkordelik meer verantwoorde pad vir die NGK in die ekumene oop te maak. 'n Pad waarop hy met groter afwagting sy verhoudinge met ander kerke, op die manier van die kerk, kon verbeter. Maar 'n pad wat ook in gemeentes geken en gebruik moet word.



Mededingende belange

Die outeur verklaar dat hy geen finansiële of persoonlike verbintenis het met enige party wat hom nadelig kon beïnvloed in die skryf van hierdie artikel nie.


P.J.S. was die enigste outeur betrokke by die skryf van die artikel.


Hierdie navorsing het geen spesifieke finansiële toekenning ontvang van enige befondsingsagentskap in die openbare, kommersiële of nie-winsgewende sektore.

Data beskikbaarheidsverklaring

Data-deling is nie van toepassing op hierdie artikel nie, aangesien geen nuwe data in hierdie studie geskep of ontleed is nie.


Die sienings en menings wat in hierdie artikel uitgedruk word, is dié van die outeur(s) en weerspieël nie noodwendig die amptelike beleid of posisie van enige geaffilieerde agentskap van die outeurs nie.



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Piet Strauss

Received: 12 Nov. 2018
Accepted: 23 Feb. 2019
Published: 23 July 2019



1. 'n Onchristelike kerk is natuurlik nie 'n kerk nie (Kock 1975:142-144).
2. Hierdie gebruike by die bediening van die sakramente word deur Emden in 1571 uitgewys as byvoorbeeld een of drie keer se besprinkeling by die doop in die Naam van die Drie-enige God (Pont 1981:105).
3. Die ekumeniese betrekkinge van die vyf sinodes wat in 1962 die algemene sinodale verband van die NGK sou vorm, was beperk tot binnelandse en buitelandse Protestantse kerke (vgl. Strauss 2015:76-90).
4. Vgl. Koffeman se afskeid van Woordgebonde kerklike tug. In sy Nederlandse situasie beskou hy dit net nie meer as 'n realistiese moontlikheid nie. Daarvoor is die etiese maatstawwe wat in sy kerkgemeenskap leef te relatief en beskou hulle die Bybel nie meer as 'n normkompas vir die lewe nie (Koffeman 2009:282).




Interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as nexus for encouraging responsible migration response



Christopher Magezi

Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa





This article argues for the interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response. This arises from the need of theology of migration that challenges the church to respond to migration challenges in a comprehensive manner. Given this, the aim of this article is to contribute migration theology that respond to the aforementioned proposed need. It utilises the available literature to establish the role of Israel in God's redemptive history that includes her positive treatment of people from other nations, thereby also reminding the nations of what God expects of all people. In bringing the issue of the interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response, it advances that God promises to judge and punish his people when they oppose his care and love for the vulnerable people such as aliens, widows and orphans (Ex 22:21-27). However, in remaining faithful to his aforementioned promises to the Israelites, God confronts them (the Israelites) in anger, judgement and punishment when they disobey him in the way they manage their relationship with people of other nations (Jr 7:1-15, 52; 2 Ki 24:10-20). With this in mind, it concludes by advancing the interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as nexus for encouraging responsible migration response within contemporary churches in South Africa and beyond.
Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article outlines the issue of fear of judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for responsible migration response. It underscores the aforementioned by delving into a thorough exegesis of the relevant Old Testament passages and looking at Israel's role in redemptive history as God's people. It then presents the role of Israel as accomplished by the God-man, Jesus Christ, who established the church as a new covenant community of God. As such, it is a theological interdisciplinary article integrating exegesis, biblical theology, systematic theology and practical theology.

Keywords: Israel; responsibility compulsion; God's anger; God's judgement; God's punishment; Christians; church; migration response.



Introduction, background and premise of the study

The issue of punishment and rewards is part of the Bible's central teaching (Saleam & Moustafa 2016). In Scripture, God pronounces curses and rewards regarding the way his people have lived lives that correspond to their sanctified status as God's people (cf. Dt 29-30 and Mt 25:31ff). It is important to note the fact that God's people, who have been called from darkness to light, should reflect God's loving and compassionate character to those that are marginalised or vulnerable in their societies (Kaiser 2012; Martin-Achard & Smith 2011). That is, whilst the church is mandated by God to extend his (God's) redemptive work to all nations (Mt 28:16-20), there is a responsibility for it to practically love and care for those who are marginalised and vulnerable in church communities and beyond (Mt 25:31ff) (Mitch & Sri 2010:326). The obligation for God's people to love and care for the vulnerable is a pervasive teaching in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament context, we are referring to God's obligation for the Israelites as his priestly nation to practically love and care for the vulnerable people who are among them (Ex 22:21-27, 23:9; Lv 19:33-37; Dt 24:14-22, 10:12-22).1 Likewise, in the New Testament context, we are referring to Jesus' challenge for Christians to treat the lowly among them well (Mt 25:31ff).

However, both the Old and New Testament texts express the intervention of God in judgement of his people when they mistreat the lowly among them (Ex 22:23-24 and Mt 25:31ff). For example, in examining Matthew 25:31ff, a considerable number of scholars such as Stuart (2006:517), Morris (1992:639), Mitch and Sri (2010:326) and Nolland (2005:1031-1032) argue that the proposed passage indicates an eschatological divine punishment for Christians regarding their mistreatment of aliens among them. In view of the current situation, in which international migration is rapidly increasing and the church is not adequately addressing migrants' challenges (Louw 2016; Magezi 2017), one can perhaps bring the interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response within churches. Before we proceed, it is important for us to grasp what we mean by the following terms: fear of God's of judgement and responsibility compulsion. The fear of God's judgement refers to Christians' unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of God's judgement for violating their God ordained obligation to look after the aliens among them. Judgement simply refers to a calamity, viewed as a divine punishment, which falls upon Christians. However, we are conscious that in the New Testament, judgement is a positive thing for Christians. It portrays the notion of Jesus' second coming in which he will consummate his salvation for humanity and the world (Rm 8:18-30). In Romans 8:18-30, Paul underscores the second coming of Jesus Christ to judge the world as a positive thing for believers because it is a time in which chaos will be put to order, evil will be completely eradicated and light will completely displace darkness. Further, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (cf. Rv 22:12), Paul supports the notion of judgement for believers as a positive thing when he indicates that judgement for Christians and non-Christians will be based on different criteria, that is, the works of Christians will determine their rewards because they attain eternal life (with God) by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Responsibility compulsion refers to the obligation of the Israelites, and consequently, Christians to look after vulnerable migrants because it is the former's responsibility, which is a direct command from God.

Having established the aforementioned, it is important to note that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) (2015) presents a penetrating picture of the extent of international migration as a serious contemporary issue which the international community cannot afford to ignore. IOM (2015) states that:

the number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015 up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000. (p. 1)

Likewise, in 'The global challenge of managing migration', Martin (2013:2) states that from 1980 to 2010, the number of international migrants has increased by 117 million. In 1980, the number of international migrants was 103 million and it increased to 220 million by 2010. Furthermore, Martin (2013:2) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2013) report that ' the number of international migrants increased from 220 million to 232 million by 2013'. Martin (2013:2) continues to estimate that the number of international migrants is most likely to reach 400 million by 2050. In both confirming and magnifying the extent and gravity of the issue of international migration, the IOM (2014:1) pointedly reports that ' approximately one in seven people are migrating every day'.

Given the above-mentioned background, this article presents the interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response within South African churches and beyond. However, although God's judgement of his people regarding their mistreatment of strangers or aliens is a pervasive teaching in the Old and New Testaments, this article will establish the interplay of fear of judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response by using relevant Old Testament passages. To accomplish its objective, the first section of the article will discuss the Israelites as God's people within redemptive history with specific roles that include reflecting God's character in the way they treat migrants, thereby also reminding the nations of what God expects of all people. Using Exodus 22:21-27, the second section will establish God's promise to punish the Israelites once they mistreat people from other nations. The third section will present God's confrontation of the Israelites in anger and judgement, when they disobey him in the way they manage their relationship with people of other nations. This section utilises Jeremiah 7:1-15 as the key Old Testament text. Relevant New Testament passages will be mentioned or referred to in passing as a means of establishing the linkage between the Old and New Testaments regarding the proposed subject that we are bringing to bear in inducing responsible migration response with South African churches and beyond. Once this is accomplished, the final section will advance the interplay of fear of God's judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response within South African churches and beyond.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.


Towards defining a redemptive-historical approach and locating the role of Israel in redemptive history that includes imaging God in their treatment of aliens

A redemptive-historical approach pays special attention to the storyline of the Bible, namely creation, fall, redemption and consummation. Geerhardus Vos (1980:7-13), who taught biblical theology at Princeton Seminary from 1893 to 1932, and Gaffin (2012) are some of the few leading proponents of the redemptive-historical approach. In building upon Vos's (1980) conception of redemptive-historical approach, Gaffin (2012:92) endorses the redemptive-historical approach as the best methodology of interpreting scripture and articulates that ' history is revelation and develops six elements of the redemptive-historical approach' and strongly maintains that the ' outcome of these elements is that Jesus Christ is the culmination of the history of redemption' (Gaffin 2012:92). Gaffin's (2012) six elements are as follows:

· The Bible should always be interpreted in view of God's self-revelation (in word and deed) in creation.

· God's redemption or revelation is historical.

· Jesus Christ's person and work are centred on his death and resurrection (e.g. 1 Cor 15:3-4), which are the culmination of the history of redemption (revelation).

· The subject matter of revelation is redemption, meaning that revelation - excluding prefall, pre-redemptive revelation in Eden - is the interpretation of redemption, as revelation either attests or explains, describes or elaborates.

· Scripture is self-revelation, not somehow less revelation.

· Hermeneutically, revelation is the interpretation of redemption. (pp. 91-92)

The significance of Gaffin's (2012:109) aforementioned six elements of the redemptive-historical approach lie in the fact that ' salvation resides ultimately, not in who God is or even in what he has said, but in what he has done in history, once and for all, in Christ'. Gaffin's (2012) redemptive-historical approach can be summarised as advancing the study of any particular topic in the Bible in view of the doctrines of creation, fall and redemption, with their culmination in Christ.

Torrance (2008:45) advances the redemptive-historical approach as an appropriate method of studying the Bible and treats the Old and New Testaments as a single unit that finds its fulfilment in Jesus Christ's person and work. However, even when covenant theology is considered, we agree with Horton (2007:19-107), Torrance (2008:44), Magezi and Magezi (2016:155-158) and Kruger (2007:2) that Christ is the one who fulfils the Old Testament covenant promises that God designed to achieve through Abraham and his descendants (the Israelites) as his covenant people. Christ is the centre of the redemptive-historical approach because the Old Testament looks forward to the fulfilment of the redemptive promises in and through Christ, whilst the New Testament looks back to the promises of the redemptive history that culminates in Christ (Torrance 2008:45). However, there are many covenants and promises that God entered into with the human race as a means of fulfilling his promises that are part of the first gospel promises in Genesis 3:15. The redemptive role of Israel is intrinsic in the centrality of the Abrahamic covenant (Gn 12:1-3, 15, 17) and its promises that have their fulfilment in the God-man, Jesus Christ, who inaugurated a new covenant (Lk 22:20b; Torrance 2008:48). The Abrahamic covenant was particular and universal in nature (Torrance 2008:51). On the one hand, the particularity of the Abrahamic covenant refers to the promises such as land and numerous descendants, which are because of Abraham and his physical descendants. On the other hand, the universal aspect refers to God's designation of Abraham's covenant to embrace all nations (Torrance 2008:51). Wells (2002:276) concurs with the aforementioned point when he identifies a 'mathematical unity' and a 'teleological unity' with regard to the Old Testament covenants. The former refers to the progressive nature of the covenants and the latter to the contribution of each covenant to 'the fulfilment of redemptive history' (Wells 2002:276). However, even in that conception, Wells (2002) advances the Abrahamic covenant as offering an overview of redemptive history in the following profound and penetrating way:

From the NT [New Testament], we can see that the Abrahamic Covenant spoke of two distinct peoples, Israel and the church, that would experience two kinds of redemptive histories with two covenants to guide them. They stand in typological relation to one another. One would experience a physical and national redemption, starting with deliverance from Egypt and guided by the Old or Mosaic Covenant. The other would experience a spiritual, transnational redemption, starting with deliverance from sin and guided by the New Covenant. (p. 277)

God renews the Abrahamic covenant with the descendants of Abraham. This covenant is reintroduced to Isaac (Gn 26:3-5) and Jacob (Gn 32:9-12, 35:12) and it is also cited in Exodus 2:24 and 6:4-5 as the basis for the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage by God. Also, it is renewed with Israel as a priestly nation of God. Israel is a priestly nation of God that is unmeritoriously chosen (out of God's grace and love) to venture into a covenantal relationship with himself (God; Ex 19:1ff - the Sinai covenant), in which she (Israel) is to act as the mediator of God's salvation to the human race (Is 9:1-7, 49:6; Kruger 2007:2; Magezi & Magezi 2016:158; Torrance 2008:45, 58). However, given the doctrine of universal sin for the human race, Israel is part of the predicament of sin that makes it impossible for her to operate as a light to the nations. Kruger (2007) understands this well in the affirmation that:

the covenant between God and Israel is a personal relationship of the deepest, most intimate order, in which the Lord is doing the impossible - overcome the contradiction between fallen humanity and Himself and establishing real communion, union and oneness. (p. 2)

The role of Israel is ultimately fulfilled by the God-man, Jesus Christ, who is a sinless representative of humanity (Magezi & Magezi 2017:5ff). Regardless of the fact that God's redemptive history particularised in Israel (but designed to embrace all humankind) is fulfilled by the God-man, Jesus Christ; it is apparent that God, in history, has attempted to use Israel as his instrument of salvation to all nations. One of the manners in which Israel is supposed to accomplish her role is through reflecting God's character in the way she treats migrants, thereby also reminding the nations of what God expects of all people. The biblical-theological foundational status of the preceding God-ordained role of the Israelites and his (God's) promise to punish them (Israelites) for violating their obligation is established in the ensuing sub-section.


Exodus 22:21-27: God's promise of punishment for Israel regarding her mistreatment of aliens

In Exodus 22:21-27, the motivation for the Israelites to care for migrants among them is based on two important things. Firstly, Israel's former experience as aliens in the land of Egypt (Ex 22:21; Stuart 2006:515). Secondly, God's character as a compassionate God who is the primary defender of the cause of the vulnerable, namely migrants, orphans and widows (Ex 22:23-24). Firstly, by appealing to the former experience of the Israelites as aliens in Egypt (v. 21), it seems that God has migrated the Israelites into Egyptian bondage to have an excruciating experience of being aliens so that he (God) can use it to teach them (the Israelites to live as an ideal nation or people of God that bring about God's redemption to all the nations) how they were supposed to treat aliens among them. It is unfortunate that commentators do not view the migration of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage from this perspective, perhaps because they are not viewing migration from a redemptive-historical approach.

From a redemptive-historical approach, God's call for the Israelites to remember their excruciating experience in a foreign land serves to illustrate that the migration of the Israelites into Egyptian bondage was not outside of God's control because God uses that former experience to teach the Israelites to understand the kind of mercy, love and justice they have to exhibit to aliens among them. It is in Egyptian bondage where the Israelites were severely mistreated, so they should not let the aliens among them face the same experiences (Stuart 2006:515). Unlike the Egyptians, the Israelites should treat aliens among them in the way they would have loved to be treated by the Egyptians. The Israelites' just treatment of the aliens among them shows them as a distinct nation of God that has to reflect God's holy and righteous character to other nations so that they can perceive God's ideal way of treating aliens and change from their evil ways of treating aliens among them. In doing this, Israel can fulfil its redemptive role of being a light to the nations (Is 49:6).

The above-mentioned conception means that by bringing to memory the former experience of the Israelites in Egypt, God wanted the Israelites to know that God is primarily a compassionate God who stands with the vulnerable. In the midst of the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, the Israelites had to remember that the God whom they had entered into a covenantal relationship with is the God who cares for the vulnerable (the Israelites as foreigners in Egypt). So, as God cared for the Israelites during their time as migrants in Egypt by redeeming them, God also cares for the vulnerable among the Israelites. By caring for the aliens among them, the Israelites cannot be considered as repaying their Egyptian redemption debt in which God had compassion and redeemed them. Instead, the Israelites are demonstrating the mercy and love that arise from their experience as former slaves in Egypt, as well as adopting God's compassion for the aliens as he demonstrated to them (Israelites) when they were in Egyptian bondage. This implies that the memory of Egyptian bondage and their knowledge of a compassionate God who upholds justice for the aliens should be the basis for the Israelites to exhibit just treatment of aliens among them. In adopting God's compassion character for the aliens, the Israelites became distinct from other nations and they reflect God's character so that other nations could perceive the Israelites' just treatment of aliens and be able to change their evil ways. As the Israelites live according to God's laws and standards in the proposed respect, they can partake and fulfil their role in the unfolding of God's redemptive purposes and plans for the human race.

The importance of treating the vulnerable justly is expressed in two ways in verses 23-24, namely: (1) the compassionate God of Israel who hears the cry of the foreigners, widows and orphans when the Israelites oppress them; (2) the consequences that Israelites incur as a result of acting unjustly to the foreigners, orphans and widows among them. These two ways indicate that the need for the Israelites to treat aliens among them well was of serious concern for God. In concurrence with the preceding analysis, Stuart (2006:517) advances that God in Exodus 22:23-24 is warning the Israelites that:

Social injustice could result in the unleashing of the covenant curses (the full listings of which are still to come in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-23) with the effect of a general rejection of Israel and its consignment to destruction as a political entity.

At this juncture, one should agree with Stuart (2006:517) that the seriousness of the punishment that would be incurred by the Israelites when they oppress these three categories of people (foreigners, widows and orphans) among them indicates the obligation of 'social justice if the people are to remain Yahweh's people and not be disseminated and discarded by him' (Stuart 2006:517). In Stuart's view, the wording can be equally translated as saying 'I simply will not tolerate any exploitation of anyone, I will ruin you in response' (Stuart 2006:517). The inferred threat by God to use a sword2 to destroy the Israelites that will oppress the vulnerable (foreigners, orphans and widows) among them conveys that 'God would not allow Israel's enemies to attack and exterminate them if they uphold social justice' (Stuart 2006:517). Mackay (2001:393) agrees with Stuart when he underscores that the predominant message being communicated in Exodus 22:23-24 is that the communities that lack social justice will fall under God's judgement. This indicates that a compassionate God who defends the defenceless ' will directly intervene in righteous indignation at such offenses and impose a penalty that matches the nature of what has been done' (Mackay 2001:393). This can be taken to imply that when the Israelites contradict the confessions about God and of his gracious promises, he (God) is ready to execute judgement. At this point, the Israelites could have failed their God-ordained obligation in bringing about God's redemptive promises and plans to the fulfilment, the promises he (God) initially promised in Genesis 3:15, and then proceeded to commit himself to accomplish through Abraham and his descendants. Likewise, Ryken (2005) in book entitled Exodus: Saved for God's glory concludes that:

If we claim to follow God, then we must show his compassion by caring for the strangers, widows, and orphans. The Scripture reports that God defends the cause of fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. (Dt 10:18) (p. 739)

Given this, God promised to punish his people, the Israelites, when they mistreat the vulnerable among them such as aliens and he is faithful to his word, as the ensuing section will present God's confrontation of the Israelites in anger and judgement when they disobeyed him in the manner they managed their relationship with people of other nations.


God's confrontation of the Israelites in anger and judgement when they disobeyed him in their relationship with people of other nations

Jeremiah 7:1-15: God's anger against Judah's mistreatment of aliens: Towards the indivisibility of worship and ethics

Carroll (1986:207) argues that in Jeremiah 7:1-15, the prophet Jeremiah is preaching the law in the temple. From a redemptive-historical perspective, we note that the predominant problem in this proposed passage of Jeremiah is twofold, namely (1) the Israelites' faithlessness in God and (2) their contradiction of the role God has called them to fulfil which includes doing so by acts of righteousness that he both calls and enables them to do when they are in fellowship with him. Ezekiel 16 uses powerful metaphors of death to indicate that the unfaithfulness that was manifest was the result of such death. However, before we delve into Jeremiah 7:1-15, it is important to sketch a historical context of this passage.

The prophet Jeremiah was active in the period when Babylon emerged as a super power in the ancient near East world, following the downfall of the Assyrian state (Carroll 1986:33). Jeremiah reveals the collapse of both Judah and the city of Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE, because the nation of Judah was wicked (Carroll 1986:33). So, Jeremiah sees the inescapable judgement of God coming upon Judah if she did not repent and turn to God (Jr 1-6; Huey 1993:31; Stulman 2005:89). However, Jeremiah's message of the collapse of Judah and the city of Jerusalem creates a political and theological tension between Jeremiah and the people of Judah (Huey 1993:31). In view of the political tension, the people of Judah perceive Jeremiah as a traitor who supports the nation of Babylon (Jr 37:11-16); yet Jeremiah sees Babylon as 'God's instrument of judgment on his people and warns that Judah would be destroyed' (Jr 1:11-19, 4:5-31, 25:1-4; Huey 1993:31). The theological tension arises when Jeremiah's opponents contradict his message (Jr 6:14, 28:10-11) by preaching peace when Jeremiah is proclaiming judgement (Huey 1993:32). Jeremiah's opponents preach that Babylon's power or yoke is going to be broken whilst Jeremiah insists that its power is still going to be a reality for many years and that the Babylonians will take Judah to exile after destroying the city of Jerusalem and its temple (Huey 1993:32). This means that the demolition of Judah does not fit well within the theological perspective of some people of Judah (Jr 26:1-24; Huey 1993:32). Nevertheless, in the context of the pending punishment of God for Judah, which eventually takes place, Jeremiah 52 reports the siege of Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Huey (1993) argues that:

God's grace is demonstrated by his patient dealings with Judah in spite of its stubborn rebellion. He repeatedly appealed, 'return, faithless people' (Jr 3:4). Jeremiah did not minimize the seriousness of sin or hesitate to condemn it. He also knew that sin must be punished by a just God. He understood that it is deep seated, a part of human nature (Jr 13:23), engraved on the perverse of human heart (Jr 17:1, 5) but that God and God alone can conquer it (Jr 31:33). The remedy of sin was not to take sacrifices to the temple or to observe its rituals. The only remedy for sin was repentance and the obedience to faith. (p. 35)

In bringing the message of Jeremiah 7:1-15 to bear in the construction of migration theology, Jeremiah advises the Israelites to amend their lives if they were to survive the approaching judgement of God, as announced in Jeremiah 1-6 (Stulman 2005:89; cf. Nicholson 1970:71). Jeremiah warns the Israelites not build false security by going to the temple and affirming to the name of the Lord in vain, for God wants true worshippers who live according to his covenant obligations. Jeremiah 7:1-15 targets those who worship God at the temple (Jr 7:1-2). Craigie, Kelly and Drinkard (1991:120) agree with the foregoing understanding and indicate that this temple sermon is 'a direct proclamation from God to Judah delivered by and through the prophet Jeremiah' in the temple for temple worshippers to listen to and amend their ethical lives.

The focus of Jeremiah 7:1-15 lies on the threat for the Israelites to make observations on issues related to temple worship (Carroll 1986:207) and the erroneous behaviours of the worshippers of Judah (Huey 1993:105). This threat suggests that the Israelites had departed from their covenant responsibility in the related matters mentioned by Jeremiah in this passage. There are four elements in this temple sermon of Jeremiah 7:1-15, namely:

· first admonition (vv. 2-4)

· second admonition (vv. 5-7)

· invective (vv. 9-11)

· threat (vv. 12-14) (Carroll 1986:207-208).

The first admonition in Jeremiah 7:2-4 calls the people of Judah to amend their ethical lives in order to remain in the land that God gave them as their treasured possession. Instead of building false security on their superficial form of religious faith that does not correspond to God's expectation for their ethical lives, the people of Judah have to reform their moral lives in order to remain in the land (Craigie et al. 1991:120). The false security for the people of Judah is their misconception that the presence of the temple in the city of Jerusalem assures them security and continuity in the land (Craigie et al. 1991:120; Ryken 2001:121). Given this, the prophet Jeremiah sharply rebukes the Israelites by affirming that God will not remain with them in the temple nor allow them to live in the land (or city) if they continue with their false ideology of worship. Here, Jeremiah is warning the people of Judah not to trust in the lie contained in the chant of 'the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh' (listed three times in verse 43) (Carroll 1986:208). This invocation of the temple is false because (Carroll 1986):

the people's security is not to be found in the possession of a divine house. Everything in which the nation puts its trust may become the source of false consciousness if it is divorced from life: temple, city, cultic officials, king, religion, history. Such is the essential critique of ideology in the book of Jeremiah. The fall of Jerusalem exposed the falseness of all such beliefs, and not even possession of Yahweh's temple could protect an evil people. (p. 208)

Huey (1993:106) argues that Jeremiah made it clear that God's promise for the Israelites to remain in the land was conditional. The prolonged history of the people of Judah of not listening to the Word of God invites the destruction of both the temple and the city, as shown in Jeremiah 7:7 and 14-15. If the people of Judah will not respond positively to God's word, then all the divine commitments are cancelled (cf. Jr 18:7-9; Is 50:2, 65:12, 66:4; Carroll 1986:2011). Here, the divine commitments are cancelled because God will cast out Judah from the land the same way God cast out Ephraim, Judah's brother. However, Huey's aforementioned conception has to be challenged, because to say that all the divine commitments are cancelled might be a misunderstanding of the whole book of Jeremiah and the preceding narrative of Israel. It is better to say that the divine commitments require that God acts against Judah. Firstly, the threat Jeremiah is sent to proclaim or announce is in accordance with what God had said in passages like Deuteronomy 27; 28:45-52, 64-68 and 30:1-10. Secondly, the whole book of Jeremiah shows a great commitment of the Lord to his people even when he had to exile Judah. In fact, that exact act of exile was a demonstration of the Lord's amazing commitment which, in this case, is evident even when he had to discipline Judah. Despite the preceding disagreement with Huey, we argue that the conclusion in v. 15 makes the destruction of Shiloh4 equivalent to the casting out of Ephraim5 (Carroll 1986:2011; Huey 1993:107). Here, the message to be taken is that when worshippers 'desecrate sacred shrines with idolatry and justice, when communities of faith become recalcitrant and inhuman, there is no place to hide' (Jr 7:14; Stulman 2005:91).

Jeremiah 7:5-7 brings the second admonition that stipulates the exact things the people of Judah have to do if they were to remain in the land that God swore to their forefathers to give them (cf. Gn 12:1-3, 17:1-16, 15). The areas of life the people of Judah are to amend are the following:

· they have to deal justly with each other (Jr 7:5b; cf. Dt 16:20)

· they should cease to oppress the aliens, fatherless and widows among them6 (Jr 7:6a, cf. Ex 22:21-22; Dt 24:17, 22:27)

· they should not shed innocent blood (Jr 7:9-12)

· they should not worship any other god besides their only God of Israel (Jr 7:6c; Ex 20:3-4).

The aforementioned sins of Judah compel Stulman (2005:92) to conclude that 'fundamental arrangements of society rest on the preservation of social justice and the practice of neighbourly love, not upon the Jerusalem temple'. This arises from the fact that Jeremiah 7:1-15 indicate that 'disobedience to the central principles of the Decalogue lies at the heart of the community's ills' (Stulman 2005:90). With this background in mind, we argue that the people of Judah were wrong because they wanted 'covenant blessings without obedience' (Ryken 2001:122). The implication is that the Israelites want the blessings outside faith and grace in God. It is as if the rituals alone will save them and ensure them of blessings; yet, God wants the rituals to help preserve faith and hope in the promises and encourage them to love out of gratitude. They are expected to exhibit a love that is anchored in obedience, which even involves serving others, including the vulnerable such as aliens, widows and orphans.

The admonitions in Jeremiah 7:9-12 accuse the community of Judah of stealing, murdering, committing adultery, false swearing, serving Baal and other gods (cf. 2 Chr 29-36). The worship of Baal gods was a pervasive act of worship during the time of the kings, as it is clear in the wider context of 2 Chronicles 29-36 (i.e. during reign of Ahaz, Manasseh, and so on). After performing such evil acts, the people of Judah go back into the temple of God to praise him, in a bid to hide from their detestable deeds (Carroll 1986:208). As a cycle, the people of Judah would go back to commit the same evil acts, after which they would again seek refuge in the temple of the Lord. Carroll (1986) captures the message of Jeremiah 7:9-12 in the following way:

However rhetorical the picture may be, it is a striking illustration of mindless worship. This type of behaviour turns the temple, Yahweh's house into a robbers' cave. Taken together these polemical pieces constitute a thorough going critique of Jerusalem's cultic ideology and identify the destruction of the city with false cultic practices accompanied by false ethical attitudes. (pp. 208-209)

We can affirm that Jeremiah 7:1-15 bring forth the close association between worship and ethics (Carroll 1986:209). Here, the temple of the Lord acquires its status from the quality of worshippers who meet and worship there (v. 11; Carroll 1986:209). As noted by Stulman (2005:91), 'liturgy and ethics are inseparable. And spirituality divorced from right conduct is a dangerous distortion of the practice of faith'. In view of pursuing justice for the aliens, widows and orphans, Stulman (2005:91) underscores that 'worship without compassion represents an obscene caricature of true Yahwism'. In commenting on Jeremiah 7:1-15, Ryken (2001:125) concurs with Stulman and Carroll by stating that the content of the temple sermon can be summarised as 'religious observance without moral obedience cannot save'. God can only dwell with the worshippers in the temple if they amend their ways and their doings or when they believe and repent (Jr 7:3; Stulman 2005:91).7 Given this, we argue that one of the reasons for God's confrontation of the Israelites in anger in Jeremiah 1:1-15 is the oppression of aliens by the Israelites. As promised in the Torah, God is hurt when the vulnerable (such as aliens, widows and orphans) among the Israelites are oppressed.

However, God did not only warn Judah for her faithlessness towards God, including the manner she managed her relationship with people from other nations. Instead, God eventually punishes Judah for her faithlessness. This emanates from passages such as Jeremiah 52 that reports the siege of Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In this way, exile (as promised in Ex 22:23-24) was used by God as a form of punishing or judging Israel for her sins, which include her unjust treatment of aliens among her.


Interplay of fear of judgement and responsibility compulsion as a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response for the church

From a redemptive-historical approach, the above-mentioned exegetical consideration of Exodus 22:21-27 is essentially about seeing God's great love for the Israelites in perceiving his grace in their migrations and how they respond to him and his love in grateful service when they see and understand his great love. The response of the Israelites to God and his love in grateful service includes how they treat other people, who include migrants, even those from nations that may have hurt them in the past. As God's people, the Israelites are to understand that God is actively involved in every phase of their history (Wright 2006:253), including their migration in exile, in God's grace and love, so that they (Israelites) can be saved from whatever stands in their way of unleashing God's redemptive purposes and plans for the human race.

Nonetheless, in the wider context of the Old Testament, the ethical concept of justice for aliens is one of the predominant ways in which the Israelites are to respond to God's grace and love, which he executes for them in migration contexts such as Egyptian bondage and the Babylonian captivity (Blj & Groenewald 2014:1-9). Exodus 22:21-27 challenge the Israelites to treat aliens in a manner that corresponds to 'Yahweh's redeeming intentions', namely: the Israelites are obliged to create a just society as a response to God's redemption of them in their migration (Blj & Groenewald 2014:7). In amplifying the aforementioned point, we argue that, based on their experience in Egyptian bondage, the Israelites should be cognisant of the fact that the aliens (as well as widows and orphans) among them are disadvantaged in many and different ways, so they should look after them. Work (2009:220) supports this point by advancing that God calls on the Israelites to protect the foreigners among them ' by making Israel's story of Egyptian servitude a point of commonality with all of Israel's powerless'. In the midst of the powerlessness of the Israelites as aliens in Egyptian bondage, God demonstrates his compassion, love and mercy to them by redeeming them. The compassion, love and mercy that God demonstrates to the Israelites during their bondage in Egypt are not confined to the Israelites alone; instead, they are for all the vulnerable. Given this, the Israelites have to extend that same compassion, love and mercy to the vulnerable among them, namely widows, orphans and aliens. Merrill (1994) encapsulates the foregoing argument thus:

the mercy to be extended to the widows, aliens and orphans was a reflex of the mercy of God, who in a mighty act of redemptive and protective grace brought helpless Israel out from Egyptian bondage (v. 18, cf. 5:15, 6:12, 21; 8:14, 10:19, 15:15). memory of the Lord's goodness to them [the Israelites] should have evoked corresponding blessings from them to the weakest members of the community. (p. 323)

It is important to note that Exodus 22:21-27 also bring to the fore the fact that God promises to punish his people (the Israelites) when they mistreat the vulnerable among them such as aliens, widows and orphans. In light of the universal implication of the Israelites' role, this means that God's judgement for Israel also applies to the current church as a new covenant community of God (Lk 22:20b; Torrance 2008:48) that is responsible for extending God's compassion, love and mercy to the vulnerable such as aliens (Mt 25:31ff). In view of the migration issue, the Abrahamic covenant was universal in nature in the sense of casting light on the obligation of all nations and individuals to care for their fellow human beings, regardless of their tribal, ethnic, religious, national and language backgrounds. Martin-Achard and Smith (2011), in a monograph entitled Israel's mission to the world, and Kaiser's (2012) profound and penetrating book called Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a light to the nations, advance the aforesaid point well in their conception of Israel as a nation that is given special responsibility by God to act as the mediator of spreading the gospel to all nations. However, the mission of the Israelites is not to evangelise the Gentiles by merely preaching the word. Instead, the ethical lives of the Israelites, as a chosen people of God, are to show that they are priestly people of God who are set apart to draw the Gentiles to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In an article entitled 'Israel's mission to the nations in Isaiah 40-55', Grisanti (1998) understands the universal role of Israel and argues that in God's renewal of the Abrahamic covenant with the nation of Israel in Exodus 19:4-6, God:

presents Israel with a unique and sobering challenge (before revealing to them the Law, i.e., the Mosaic Covenant). Doubtless, their conformity to the Law would have caused them to be a distinct nation among the pagan nations of the world. However, that distinctiveness was not an end in itself. From the very outset, this divinely-intended distinctiveness carried with it worldwide implications. By conducting their lives in conformity with the demands of the Law, the nation of Israel would have been able to function as God's servant nation, representing God and His character before the surrounding nations of the world. (p. 40)

Now the church, as a new covenant community of God that was inaugurated by the incarnational mystery of Christ, has to carry Israel's responsibility as a light to the world (Mt 5:14-16). Torrance (2008:48) brings the linkage between Israel and the church as a new community of God that is grounded in Jesus Christ and introduces us to the covenant sign of circumcision, which is established between God and Abraham (in which the covenant is to be cut into the flesh of Abraham and all his descendants as their symbol covenant with God) as an anticipation of the incarnational event, in which the Word of God would enter into actual human existence for the sake of our redemption. Here, the mystery of incarnation stands as the definitive fulfilment of the anticipation of the Abrahamic covenant, the anticipation in which the Word of God is to be 'enacted so deeply into the existence of Israel' (Torrance 2008:48). The incarnation of Christ does not only fulfil the anticipation of the Abrahamic covenant (hence, Israel), but also inaugurates the new covenant between God and humanity, in which a 'new and living way is opened up in the humanity of the Son of God' (Torrance 2008:48). Thus, Christians, as the new community of God that has access to him by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8, 1:7), embody the role of Israel, which includes looking after the aliens among them. Having established the linkage between Israel and the current church, it follows that God, in anger, judges the church (and consequently Christians) when it neglects care and love for universal humanity that is fashioned in his image (Gn 1:27). In amplifying the aforementioned point, we argue that God does not only promise to punish his people when they mistreat aliens among them. Instead, he acts upon his promises in the history of Israel through exiling them to foreign nations (2 Ki 24:10-20; Jr 52) as a form of judgement and punishment for their sins, which include demonstrating faithlessness in God by turning to pagan gods, as well as separating their worship from their ethical lives, which culminates in the unjust treatment of aliens, widows and orphans (Jr 7:1-15).

In view of the exile of Judah as God's punishment for their sins, we perceive that, several times, God uses prophets such as Jeremiah to confront Judah, in anger, when she disobeys God in the way she manages her relationship with people of other nations (Jr 7:1-15). Consequently, God punishes Judah. Jeremiah 52 reports the siege of Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as one form of such punishment. Judah is exiled because she oppresses the vulnerable aliens that were among her, which is reported by McConville (2002:362) as ' the parade example in the OT of social sin, the antithesis of the spirit of the covenant'. At this point, Christians should perceive that God is faithful to his promises in Scripture. He promises to punish the Israelites by sending them into exile if they mistreated the aliens among them and, later on, when the Israelites violate their God-ordained obligation, God acts according to his promise. Indeed, if God (in the Old Testament) promises to punish his people (the Israelites) regarding their mistreatment of vulnerable aliens among them, and he acts upon his promises, it follows that Christians, as new covenant people of God, should fear God's punishment regarding their failure to fight for the just treatment of the vulnerable aliens among them.

In interlinking the Old and New Testaments regarding the proposed issue, we argue that in the eschatological judgement of Matthew 25:31ff, the God-man, Jesus Christ, challenges Christians to practise just treatment of the lowly among them by addressing their physical needs (Mitch & Sri 2010:326ff; Morris 1992:639ff; Nolland 2005:1031-1032; Stuart 2006:517ff). For example, in focussing on the desperate situation of a stranger in Matthew 25:43, Morris (1992:637) argues that the stranger is ' always in a somewhat difficult position, and in first century Palestine'. The situation of strangers in first-century Palestine is complex because there are not many facilities that they can use as lodgings. Morris (1992:638) develops the aforementioned points and presents that the underlying question in first-century Palestine was about places where a stranger, being in an unfamiliar place, could lodge because there were no such modern facilities such as the hotels that we use today. However, even if we have many such facilities today, they often are beyond the reach of the needy and vulnerable who, on their own, are not able to afford such accommodation. Morris (1992:638) further highlights that the word 'stranger' also means foreigner in a foreign land, who does not have rights and protection in that foreign nation. By equating the word 'stranger' with 'alien', Morris (1992) is right because the Greek word ξένος (transliterated as xenos), used in Matthew 25:35, can also be translated to mean 'alien or foreigner' in English (Mounce n.d:1). Thus, aliens in a foreign land are the obvious candidates for the kind of help that Jesus Christ wants people from all nations to look after. At this point in our discussion, we are not going to discuss in detail the aspect of God's judgement from a New Testament perspective because our final judgement regarding the New Testament is provided in the introduction.

On the basis of the foregoing, we are conscious that in focusing on the final judgement as the predominant theme of Matthew 25:31-46, Newman and Snit (1988:784) and Mitch and Sri (2010:326) explain that these verses speak about the final judgement as based on the good things the righteous have done to the needy in their earthly life (Matt 25:35-40), as well as the bad things the unrighteous have done to the needy during their time on earth (Matt 25:41-46). This denotes that at the final judgement, Jesus Christ will judge both the righteous and unrighteous people based on their loving and compassionate deeds for those people in desperate situations in their communities and societies (Newman & Snit 1988:784). Nevertheless, Newman and Snit and Mitch and Sri's (2010:326) understanding of the works of the righteous as the basis of their salvation is controversial, especially when considering the wider scope of Scripture. Their understanding invokes the issue of salvation by works, yet the pervasive teaching of the New Testament underscores salvation as the gracious act of God (Eph 2:8) through faith in the saving work of Christ (Eph 1:7, Rm 3:21ff). Christian salvation is entirely the work of God, but this salvation results in the manifestation of good works that correspond with Christians' new sanctified status in Christ (Eph 2:10, Rm 3). This denotes that in the order of salvation, genuine Christian salvation should lead to a good life, that is, we maintain the New Testament perspective about judgement. We established in the introduction that judgement for believers is a positive thing because it envisions a situation when chaos will be brought to order at the second return of Christ to judge both Christians and non-Christians. However, the works of believers do not entail the aspect of attaining eternal life by their good works because they attain eternal life (with God) by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Given the above discussion, we argue that embedded in Matthew 25:31ff is the challenge for humanity to exhibit just treatment of the vulnerable such as the strangers among them in anticipation of blessings (rewards), or adversely, curses that will befall all people (i.e. Christians and non-Christians). However, for Christians, the judgement entails receiving rewards that are commensurate with their works. In this case, the reward is according to the manner they have treated the lowly among them, including vulnerable strangers (ibid). This means that no Christian will be cursed for eternity (Rv 22:12; 1 Th 2:19-20). At this juncture, it is imperative to state that the aforementioned judgement threat and responsibility compulsion for Christians (to treat vulnerable strangers well) are reminiscent of both the Old and New Testament and this realisation should compel the church (as a corporate body of believers) and individual Christians to exhibit positive responses to migrants' challenges. This implies affirming that the interplay of fear of judgement and responsibility compulsion should challenge the church to be versatile and innovative in addressing migrants' challenges that are within its jurisdiction and capacity, as well as those beyond its jurisdiction and capacity. For instance, because of fear of God's judgement threat, the church should operate as a voice of the voiceless and advocate for the vulnerable aliens (in the migrants' host nations) against the political, social and economic injustices that they encounter (cf. Is 1:17; Zch 7:9-10; Pr 39:8-9; Jr 22:3; Ps 32:3 and Mt 7:12) at the hands of various nations' service providers, institutions, labour and migration laws.

Nevertheless, we are aware that in the wider context of Scripture, the judgement of non-Christians will be based on different criteria, that is, the works of Christians will determine their rewards because they attain eternal life (with God) by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Rv 22:12; 1 Th 2:19-20).8 But in 1 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul draws courage and motivation in his Christian life from the knowledge that he was going to receive the rewards he would have earned at the second coming, when Christ will consummate his redemption as both saviour and judge. Hence, although we view Christians' compassion works, such as migrant ministries, as their appropriate response to their gracious redemption in Jesus Christ, we argue that the fear of God's judgement threat that emanates from the Old Testament (and is echoed in the New Testament) should induce responsible migration response. That is, the fear of God's judgement threat and responsibility compulsion to care for the needy, such as aliens, are important before God as all people are his image bearers. Thus, these compulsions should be the nexus for encouraging responsible migration responses by churches in South Africa and beyond.



In conclusion, this article reveals that God, in anger, both judges and punishes those who oppose his care and love for universal humanity. It arises from the fact that from a redemptive-historical approach, God sanctions the Israelites (as his graciously chosen people) not to emulate the nations, but rather to strive to reflect him in the way they treat migrants, thereby also reminding the nations of what he expects of all people. God's command for Israel is relevant to Christians (and consequently the church) as his people in the New Testament. Christians are sanctioned by the timeless truth of the Old Testament that challenges them to exhibit just treatment of the vulnerable aliens or strangers and act as a light to the world, that is, treating migrants in a manner that God desires them to be treated. Just like Israel, if Christians fail to act according to the proposed Old Testament's ethical injunction on responsible response to migrants (which is also echoed in the New Testament), they incur God's judgement and punishment upon them. Although we view the Christians' works of compassion, such as migrant ministries, as their appropriate response to their gracious redemption in Jesus Christ, we argue that the fear and threat of God's judgement that emanates from the Old Testament should induce responsible migration response, that is, the fear of judgement and responsibility compulsion to care for the needy, such as aliens, who are important before God as his image bearers, should be a nexus for encouraging responsible migration response. Intrinsic to the aforementioned is the notion that God is faithful to his promises as he acts in anger, judgement and punishment for Israel's mistreatment of the aliens among her.



The author thanks God for giving him the ability to write this article. This article is part of a doctoral research being undertaken at North-West University (Vaal Triangle Campus). This article is part of doctoral research by the author.

Competing interests

The author has no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

The author conceptualised, researched, wrote and analysed the entire article.

Funding information

Financial support to conduct the study was provided by North-West University.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.



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Christopher Magezi

Received: 02 July 2018
Accepted: 25 Apr. 2019
Published: 29 July 2019



1. However, we are aware of the following arising question: How can God's concern that Israel be hospitable to the immigrants be reconciled with his seemingly exclusivist commands that Israel should not intermarry with the foreigners and the sending away of foreign wives in the Ezra-Nehemiah's accounts? In responding to the aforementioned question, we argue that in utilising the biblical redemptive-historical approach (which will be explained in the forthcoming section of the article) to understand Ezra-Nehemiah's command for the Israelites (returnees) to divorce foreign wives, the Israelites are not supposed to marry unconverted foreign women because of the danger they could bring to the Israelites' faith to their covenantal God, that is, foreign women could cause the Israelites to abandon their covenant obligations, that is, to follow God and serve him wholeheartedly (Dt 7:4). The Ezra-Nehemiah narratives motivate the Israelite men to divorce foreign wives by employing the case of King Solomon's marriage to unconverted foreign women (cf. 1 Ki 11:1-11) and its consequences as an example of the consequences laid down in Deuteronomy 7:4 as a result of marrying unconverted foreign wives. In examining Ezra and Nehemiah's utilisation of the aforementioned conception, anchored in a biblical redemptive-historical approach, we contend that the issue in Ezra and Nehemiah is not about the exclusion of foreigners. Instead, it is about accepting and marrying unconverted people who are not committed to the faith and life of obedience to God. This is further substantiated by the fact that we have seen the marriage of women of Gentile ethnic groups such as Ruth and Rahab to Israelite men. Later on, these women play a significant role, together with many others, in advancing Jesus' genealogy.
2. The phrase 'I will kill you with a sword' is of a type well attested in the Pentateuch, for example 'I will bring the sword upon you' (Lv 26:25) or 'I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh' (Dt 32:42) (Stuart 2006:517). The expression 'the sword' is often used in the Old Testament and New Testament as a metonymy for welfare (cf. Ex 17:13; Lv 26:6; Dt 32:24; 2 Sm 1:12, 2:26) (Stuart 2006:517).
3. The deceptive lies of verses 4 and 10 that the people of Judah believe is also implied in verse 8. This is correlated to verses 4 and 10, because the prophet does not specify the worthless words that the people of Judah are trusting in.
4. Bright (1981:186) argues whether Jeremiah here was referring to the destruction at Shiloh in 1050. Likewise, Stulman (2005:91; cf. Craigie et al. 1991:122) affirms that to emphasise his point, the prophet reminds his audience 'of the shrine at Shiloh which the Philistines, we presume, had destroyed in the days of Samuel' (Jr 7:12-15; 1 Sm 4-6).
5. Huey (1993:107) argues that Ephraim, as a leader among the 10 northern tribes, is often used synonymously with Israel (cf. Is 7:2).
6. It is important to note that there are many passages in which the prophets confront the pre-exilic Israelites about their faithless to God that manifest in the way they mistreat the vulnerable among them such as aliens, widows and orphans. For instance, Jeremiah 22:1-9 depicts God's confrontation of the Davidic king and his followers in anger because they have perverted justice due to the aliens. Ezekiel 22:1-16, with special focus on v. 7, also depicts God's confrontation of the Israelites in anger for their mistreatment of aliens.
7. Now, Stulman (2005:92) poses an interesting question to pursue with regard to Jeremiah 7:1-15. Even though that question is not part of this research, it is important to admit that we are also conscious of it. The question is whether the presence of God in the temple of Judah depends on the loyalty of the Israelites to their covenant responsibility. To put it differently, is it that God can depart the temple in Jerusalem if the Israelites fail to live according to the requirements of Torah? Nicholson (1970:71) is not clear in answering this question since he simply affirms that the Israelite's loyalty to their covenant responsibility assures them of Yahweh's blessings.
8. We are aware that there is a current debate regarding the role of works at the final judgement, but we cannot delve into it here because of space constraints. To see that discussion, see the book by Stanley and Wilkin (2013) in which four scholars with different views on the proposed issue use biblical texts to present their perspectives on the role of works at the final judgement.

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Non-Moses le Roux: Premises, promises and fulfilment in the work of J.H. le Roux



Christo J.S. Lombaard

Department of Christian Spirituality, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa





Would it be altogether out of place tongue-in-cheek to compare and contrast J.H. le Roux with Moses - given that both of them are inextricably linked to the literature of the Pentateuch? Both figures took leadership positions, although not aspiring to such roles: Moses, of the legendary exodus group, in the various texts we know and debate so well; and Le Roux through the following:
· his work as historical exegete
· his leadership of the Old Testament Society of South Africa
· his pioneering work since 2000 with the Pro Pent concept, which had influenced various other such specialist exegesis groups (respectively, on the Psalms, the Prophets, the Apocalyptic Literature, Song of Songs, Wisdom, in general, and on the Qumran texts)
· in leading his students and readers to promising new electronic lands by means of telematic teaching and the influential website
Aspects of these roles of Le Roux are taken into review in this contribution.
Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Old Testament scholarship and historiography.

Keywords: J.H. le Roux; South African Old Testament scholarship; historical exegesis.



To be, or not to be, Moses

Would it be altogether out of place to compare and contrast J.H. le Roux, one of the two figures being honoured at this seminar today, with Moses - given that both of them are inextricably linked to the literature of the Pentateuch? Le Roux, namely, is in some respects like Moses, and in some regards he is the opposite. We are for instance able to deduce a history of Moses from the Pentateuch (cf. recently, Assmann 2014 and more famously though exegetically less rigorously, Freud 1939), even though we know he did not write a single word of the introductory five books of the Bible; in fact, we are not quite sure that a Moses figure ever existed. In a phenomenologically roughly parallel way, we get to know the mind of Jurie le Roux most clearly through his writings on the Pentateuch (e.g. Le Roux 2000:592-606, 2001:234-244), of which we do know that he is indeed the author - shall we call him J? - whose existence we can verify without resorting to involved argumentation. Both figures took leadership positions, though not aspiring to such roles: Moses, of the legendary exodus group, in the various texts we know and debate so well; Le Roux, through:

· his work as historical exegete

· his leadership of the Old Testament Society of South Africa

· his pioneering work since 2000 with the Pro Pent concept (cf. Le Roux 2005:1-21), which had influenced various other such specialist exegesis groups (respectively on the Psalms, the Prophets, the Apocalyptic Literature, Song of Songs, Wisdom in general, and on the Qumran texts)

· in leading his students and readers to promising new electronic lands by means of telematic teaching (cf. Le Roux & Lombaard 2002:12-15), an electronic newsletter (cf. Lombaard & Rabe 2005:412-431) and the influential website (cf. Lombaard 2006:202-215).

Unlike Moses, Le Roux indeed experiences the positive fruit from these multifaceted journeys (Human 2006:801-819), even though there had been many problems en route, at times leading his great treks of scholarship along new routes. Le Roux can therefore be cast as a kind of Moses figure within South African Old Testament scholarship specifically and among theologians in general. However, the parallelism is not exact - hence, the title of this contribution: 'Non-Moses le Roux'.

In the following, a brief analysis of the oeuvre le Roux will be presented. More will be left unsaid than will be said. This is partly so because the points made below are but one take on only one part of Le Roux's contributions as an intellectual. In addition, this analysis is limited because, as always in academic representation, here too - and only in this tongue-in-cheek sense! - I do not have much time for Le Roux: the minutes are limited. As a former student of his, I ask his forgiveness for this, as I have asked his forgiveness for other miscarriages too. As Le Roux follows Augustine (Confessiones XI) in the view that time does not exist in any definable way, brevity will be forgiven, however, as readily, I believe, as any misrepresentations I commit in what follows.

The attempted representations try to sketch primarily the role of premises in Le Roux's thinking (cf. Le Roux 1991:277-292). Of the four leadership roles Le Roux had taken on, listed above, it is only the first that will receive proper attention here (cf., however, Human 2006:801-819); the others are featured in this contribution with passing mention only, unfairly so. Moreover, rather than a mere chronicling of Le Roux's work, I take my cue from his example (e.g. Le Roux 1993a), casting him in an interpretative mould, reading him deeply, as a singular occurrence, but not definitively. I try to sketch him 'thickly' (the slightly amusing term in academia for a rich and layered representation), as an intellectual, and I try to discern what makes him work, how his mind as an Old Testament scholar, and more, works, to the limited extent that I am able to discern as much.

This focus on Le Roux is, weaved, however, like the reeds of the metaphor employed by the predecessor of Le Roux to explain the layers of Pentateuchal texts (Van Zyl 1971:74 and his subsequent work; cf. Le Roux 1988a:84-96, 1993a:141-152), with the theme of promise and fulfilment in the life of Le Roux. Le Roux had, as a young scholar, made no verbal promises about his future roles. It was clear that a thoroughly historical mindset, a primarily tradition-historical exegetical inclination (à la Von Rad), and a kind of biographical, sympathetic approach to the work of colleagues would characterise his writings. He had been, however, to many of his contemporaries an enigma, a mystery. Mister and Rev. Le Roux, rather, showed this promise non-verbally by completing two Doctorates, which was unusual at the time, namely in Church History (1976) and in Old Testament Science (1981); this, following on a Master's degree in Sociology (1971; cf. Le Roux 1985:80-90), and complemented by continuing studies in Philosophy. 'Taking to hand the work that presents itself' (Doen wat die hand vind om te doen) in a way characterises the trajectory of Le Roux's career, also as he relates it himself. This includes his appointments at the Universities of South Africa and Pretoria (respectively, 1971-1986 [cf. Le Roux 1987a:198-221] and 1987-2009 [cf. Le Roux 1988b:160-180, 2009:100-120]), complemented by his part-time but ever-pervasive ministerial work (1972-2010).

Le Roux's full involvement in the Old Testament society, in steering scholarship along fresh, specialist paths, and with technology (cf. Human 2006:801-819), displays a similarly gradual, thoughtful1 unfolding of life opportunities. Perhaps, there may be detected here an underlying sense of restful trust in the calling to be a theologian, the same as is often popularly imagined of Moses. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the research and professional history of Le Roux has been influential. It has also turned out to be unique - allowing me the derring-do here to paraphrase Deuteronomy 34:10 as 'there has not arisen in South Africa a professor like non-Moses'.


Confluence and influence

In a footnote in my 2009 dissertation, I had called Le Roux something he did not like then, and which he will like even less now: 'the at present most influential Old Testament scholar in South Africa' (Lombaard 2009:32 fn. 13; cf. Human 2006:803). That followed on an earlier description of the existential aspect to Le Roux's exegetical work, entitled 'Teks en mens' (Lombaard 2006a:912-925), which made the point that Le Roux does not write 'cold' theology, analysing at a distance the texts of the Bible and the scholarly works on these texts. Rather, Le Roux 'lives into' these texts. Veldsman (2013:1-7) characterised this historical orientation as 'spiritual empathy': Le Roux namely finds meaning in the words from afar (cf. Deist & Vorster 1986) and in the kind of historical scholarship (Le Roux 1989:23-42, 1997:401-123) that is twice contextual: it tries to relate the ancient words to the context of the biblical world, and then these texts to modern life contexts (Le Roux 1995:1-30; cf. Deist 1995:37-48; De Villiers 2005:229-253). This is done in an involved yet critical manner (Human 2006:806) so that neither antiquity nor the present trumps the other attaining meaning. Cold detachment, through for instance logical positivism and methodological distancing, finds as little place with Le Roux as the sweet intimacies of pietism would offer. Rather, piety and scholarship combine in an intellectual, humane matrix that destroys neither, but rather nurtures both experienced theology and scholarly Bible engagement.

The wide divergence of the two worlds, ancient and modern, is therefore acknowledged for what it is, namely as something of a starting point or principled orientation. A bridge is then built, drawing intellectually on the philosophical hermeneutics of Gadamer (1975; cf. e.g. Le Roux 2002a:383-392) and Heidegger, with a strong awareness of the implications of the work on deconstruction by Derrida and others, and with great appreciation for the work of Thiselton on hermeneutics (cf. Thiselton 1980). However, it is most foundationally the French existentialist philosophers Camus and Satre who are drawn upon by Le Roux, in what may be described as an experiential way. This meant not as something which in any way involves lesser intellectuality, but requires more: something that is sensed deeply personally, with a kind of human-and-above-human resonance of meanings-and-meaningfulness.

The high esteem in which Le Roux holds the French existentialists is demonstrated in personalised historical mode by his retracing their footsteps in Paris and visiting their graves. This is nothing if not lived, empathetic spirituality (Veldsman 2013:1-7). Existentialism is thus not dead; to the contrary, the existentialist grasp at fleeting meaning in mere moments of life, in the face of the absolute senselessness of existence, is in itself a wordlessly eloquent hold onto the meaninglessness of life. The tenuousness of mad existence (cf. Foucault 1967) is something to be savoured most strongly in the sheer face of nothingness (cf. Kourie 2008:59-75). Such savour is no grasp at straws in desperation, but something more concrete, namely biblically resonant: living out of the pastoral insight already in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ('For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven', etc.) in its honest, accepting realism (cf. Scheffler 1993). Transitoriness-yet-transitiveness in a way explains such an existence, with probably the clearest parallel to this the cross events (kruisgebeure) at the heart of Christianity: that death brings life.

The latter is existential rather than cerebral logic. If such a characterisation of Le Roux holds true, it renders his scholarship decades after this sense of call to theology and ministry as, still, deeply felt discipleship. This is a kind of authentic fides quarens intellectum (Anselm of Canterbury 1078): taking the razor-sharp philosophical cutting edges of our times as seriously as they can be, while at the same time trusting in what cannot be seen, and finding ultimate rest therein. This is done in ways that defy detailed description - most of what is of greatest worth cannot be captured in words. The latter is something which witch-hunters could never grasp, who seek heresy outside all but their own decided-upon terminologies, who trust most deeply in their language, thereby - paradoxically - denying the God who transcends language (Lombaard 2012:951 fn. 6). The more authentic disciples are those who follow their master narrative even in ways not realised.


Textually speaking

In the text-reader-context communicative chain of the exegetical process (cf. Lombaard 2014:205-225), therefore, no simplicities, which many would find comforting, are allowed for by Le Roux. His appreciation for the insight on 'der garstig breite Graben' as formulated by Lessing (1979 [1777]:13) on the chasm between ancient world and modern reader is based on his awareness of the insurmountable pastness of the past (Le Roux 2001:444-457; cf. Le Roux 1993b:35-63), which is foundational to his historical mindset. This awareness is matched by his appreciation of the complexities both of the text and of modern life situations. The kind of second naivete (in the language of Ricoeur 1967:350-352), indicated in the paragraph above, fully incorporates the intricacies of both ancient text and modern context that a first naivete often finds difficult to come to terms with. Apart from the exegetical intricacies with each distinct text (Deist 1988), the dissension among Bible passages is pointed out by Le Roux (1987b:31-44, 1992), indicating the difficulties in the important task of employing such a multiverse Bible in making theological contributions to latter-day problems (Le Roux 1995:1-30). No easy answers can be found: (1) for today, (2) from the Bible and (3) through interpretation.

In fact, more often than not, it is the quality of the questioning rather than the strength of an answer that attracts Le Roux's attention.

Moreover, the all too easy practical distinction between exegesis and application is not acceptable either: the one always already implies the other. At most one can find actualisation of a text or tradition within the Old Testament or Bible itself, from which may be deduced subsequent re-enactment, in some parallel way, in the modern world (cf. Ausloos 2013:1). Though he does not argue it, Le Roux also demonstrates an alternate way: deep intellectual engagement with the text of the Bible, the problematics of hermeneutics and the intricacies of the modern world. Such an engaging approach is not only open-mindedly analytical, but it also changes Le Roux's views and his life. He cannot but be drawn into the ancient worlds of the Bible he reads (the primary texts) and on which he reads (the research literature), and the world whence he reads (his philosophical, sociological and hermeneutical interests).

This was not always easy. Le Roux had found himself early in his Old Testament career among what may be termed - similar to the caste of the untouchables in India - the unstructurables2 of South African Bible scholarship. Le Roux was namely part of the minority of South African exegetes then who had found in the historical-critical approaches the most meaningful engagement with these texts. Some of the discussions can be traced in the published dialogues with W.S. Prinsloo and J.A. Loader, with Le Roux's A story of two ways (1993) which may be read as his most extensive 'position paper' on historical versus text-immanent approaches to the Old Testament texts. Le Roux remained always unapologetically historical in theological orientation, though he displays always empathetic appreciation for methods and conclusions that differed from his. Le Roux's historical inclination is as much for philosophical as for personal or existential reasons; the latter because he could not remain untouched by the texts. As scholars in the discipline of Spirituality Studies had come to acknowledge openly to themselves (Liebert 2002:30-49), but which is as valid of other academic disciplines too: researchers become existentially implicated in their subject. This is clearer in the work of Le Roux than is the case with perhaps any of his contemporaries. Objectivity, that is, taking a detached stance from his subject matter, had never been an ideal with Le Roux. In a certain sense, this may be formulated as follows: one becomes one with one's field of intellectual immersion. That has certainly been the case with the fields in which Le Roux immerses himself.



The single aspect that elicits the greatest respect from Le Roux in the work of others is thorough theoretical groundedness. Only through one's informed, formulated premises of interpretation can the promise that understanding holds be fulfilled. For Le Roux, no understanding can take place without theory (cf. e.g. Le Roux 2001:444-457); there is no such thing as approaching one's subject matter with a tabula rasa state of mind. Superficiality in scholarship entails foremost that one is unaware of the theoretical grounding to which readings and views are pinned. Therefore, his appreciation is for the work of, for example, Van Huyssteen (1987) (cf. also Vorster, Van Aarde & Mouton 1988). Hence, also Le Roux's dispiritedness when in interdisciplinary theological work the Bible is 'drawn in' by other disciplines, namely by stringing together some seemingly supportive Bible passages in order to build 'a theology of' or 'a biblical view on' a certain matter - as if the Bible can be simply called upon to witness in favour of a certain topic. In such 'theologising', the theoretical embeddedness of every textual reading is hardly ever acknowledged, rendering interpretations that are at once shallow, theoretically mingled or mangled in ways unrealised by the exponent, and self-serving rather than critical. This stance by Le Roux cuts the other way too: his suspicions are equally raised when exegetes draw all too summarily on philosophers (usually, one philosopher) in order to enlighten or support an adopted interpretative stance. Without theory, and theory properly understood, as Le Roux frequently emphasises, one cannot practice science.

On the inverse side, though, Le Roux regards highly work that builds forth on a theory, including one of an author's own construction. This holds valid also when the subject matter is explored in an interdisciplinary (within theology) way: a thorough groundedness is required in the theoretical approach drawn on within the second discipline. Such primary theoretical embeddedness explains why, within Old Testament scholarship, Le Roux remains enamoured of the theology of Von Rad (1960, 1962), two decades (cf., e.g., Le Roux 2002b:1577-1592) after his second dissertation, which was on Von Rad's theory, had been completed (Le Roux 1981). Within New Testament scholarship, Le Roux's ongoing appreciation for the work on the historical Jesus published by Andries van Aarde (cf., e.g. Le Roux 2002c:77-99 on Van Aarde 2001) can be understood in the same way, as but one example. In each instance, a fully expounded theory underlies the exegetical work that follows. That same initial theory also enables the employment of the insights gained, also beyond the exegetical findings. Theory births knowledge as much as it carries insights further.

In cross-disciplinary work (across the boundaries of the traditional theological encyclopaedia), it is precisely these dual grounds of an own theoretically-founded approach to the Bible text along with a deep immersion in the theoretical groundwork of another field, that draws Le Roux's highest esteem. This can be seen in his continuing appreciation for scholars who work in this way, and who would become his long-standing and active, influential discussion partners. I refer, firstly, to Eckart Otto, who had developed a wholly new and highly complex historical-critical theory on the developmental history of the Pentateuch (e.g. Otto 1999), recouping W.M.L. de Wette's groundbreaking insight (1805) which took Deuteronomy as the central text of the Pentateuch and of much of Israel's faith development since the 7th century BCE (cf. Le Roux 2010:20-35). Yet, parallel to this, Otto had developed a foundational research trajectory on Max Weber, as a field of scholarship in own right (Otto 2005), and which had informed much of Otto's work on the composition history of the Pentateuch, as is evident from his new Deuteronomy commentary (Otto 2012a, 2012b, 2016a, 2016b). A second example here is the work of Scheffler, which has for a substantial part focused on the thematics of poverty, investigated as it traverses both the Old Testament and, from his dissertation already (Scheffler 1993), the New Testament. This specialisation by Scheffler, based on the clear theological (though he would at times during his career probaly prefer the term philosophical) supposition of care for the poor, has been complimented with a thorough specialisation on the psychological understanding of the Old Testament, grounded in the works of most particularly Jung, whose oeuvre Scheffler had studied extensively. A last example is the work of Le Roux's long-time colleague and friend, and sometime neighbour, the late Ferdinand Deist. Deist had combined his substantial work on Pentateuch theory (1976, with the imaginative title 'Mosaïek van Moses', published in translation in 1988 as Mosaic of Moses) with his philosophical work on heuristics (1976, influentially; cf. Deist & Le Roux 1987; Le Roux 1992:3-19) and on hermeneutics (Deist 1994, foundationally). In all these three instances, Le Roux had been drawn to the maturity of theoretical reflection, which had, also in interdisciplinary fashion, informed the colleagues' scholarly exegesis. In these cases, the adage 'by your friends you shall be known' holds true: this is a foundational feature of Le Roux's own intellectual constitution.

The latter also explains Le Roux's approach as a historiographer of South African Old Testament scholarship (see most notably again Le Roux 1993a). Based on his philosophy of history, Le Roux reads deeply and sympathetically into the various scholars' work while analysing them; that is - borne from philosophy of history - while telling his story about them. All are cast within the two theoretical schools that had come to characterise South African Bible scholarship since the rise to prominence of structural analysis. In this same appreciative style, Le Roux had analysed the work of international colleagues, expressing, for instance, his appreciation for the sociological approach in the influential work by Gottwald (1985; cf. Le Roux 1985:80-90) and for the history of religions approach by Albertz (1992, cf., e.g. Le Roux 1996:610-622).


Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

'Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera' is one of Jurie le Roux's favourite expressions. The reason is: there is always more to say; further implications; much to think through.

This is no less true while discussing the work of Le Roux himself. What has been done here, above, is a mere skeleton sketch, and only partial at that, to which much must be added. The depth perspectives which I had tried to convey, however, are as follows: that there is an existential confluence to be detected between Le Roux and his subject, in that he is influenced by the primary and secondary texts to which he devotes his studious energies. This has been influential in some circles; misunderstood in others. Then, there is the importance of premise, of philosophical and theoretical grounding, in Le Roux's intellectual make-up, both in primary and, where applicable, secondary fields of specialisation. This is evident is his own work, in the colleagues who become his discussion partners, and in the publications he receives most foundationally. For me, it has been a privilege to be one of the people following such a non-Moses.



Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Authors' contributions

C.J.S.L. was the sole author on this article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for a research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.



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Christo Lombaard

Received: 10 July 2018
Accepted: 24 Oct. 2018
Published: 06 Aug. 2019



1. This is not in the sense of planning, but in the sense of careful consideration once an opportunity is presented.
2. One of the quips during the 1980s had been that particularly Afrikaans and hence Reformed exegesis had as its confessional stance sola structura.

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'Maak die wêreld nie tot bespotting nie': 'n Herwaardering van die filosofiese aspekte in Mechtild von Magdeburg se Das fliessende Licht der Gottheit (1250)


'Do not ridicule the world': A reappraisal of the philosophical aspects in Mechtild of Magdeburg's Das fließende Licht der Gottheit (1250)



Johann Beukes

Department of Philosophy, Faculty Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa





This article provides a reappraisal of the philosophical aspects in Mechtild von Magdeburg's (ca. 1207-1282) Das fließende Licht der Gottheit, written in 1250 and found in 1860, only then to be edited in modern German. The article argues that Mechtild's philosophical output constitutes a unique counter-cultural reaction from the 13th century. Her philosophical perspectives are characterised and represented by a solemn dictum for a 13th century nun (albeit a beguine), 'do not ridicule the world'), which amounts to an intellectual engagement that takes the world seriously on a constant basis. Her emphasis on the union of the human and the Godhead, the primary role she attributes to experience in the acquisition of knowledge and her ethical interest in the 'Other' in a fragile world, stand to serve her deepest impression that love is the primary principle of both God and creation. Showing little interest in essentialist or causal analyses, with the exception of the principle of love, and with little in common with her early-scholastic contemporaries in their intellectual, scholastic refinements of the life-world system, she nevertheless exerted an influence on the mystical trajectories of the later Middle Ages, especially in the German tradition of Meister Eckhart.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: As a millennium-long discourse, Medieval philosophy functions in a Venn diagrammatical relationship with Medieval history, Church history, patristics and philosophy of religion. Whenever 'mainstream' or 'canonised' Medieval philosophy is impacted from the niche research, it may well have implications that these closely related disciplines could take note of.

Keywords: Mechtild von Magdeburg; Das fließende Licht der Gottheit; a metaphysics and cosmology of movement; neoplatonic emanation; the triadic relation of the soul and the senses.



Inleiding: Mechtild, 'n sonderlinge bedelnon

In 1860 word die kopie van 'n teks, getitel Das fließende Licht der Gottheit, eenkant en weggesteek in 'n Duitse kloosterruïne gevind. Dit was 'n werk, geskryf in die Duitse volkstaal en nie in Latyn nie, deur 'n vrou wat haar lewe en werk as 'n Christelike mistikus met besondere filosofiese aanvoeling en erudisie beskryf. Die werk is telkens daarna deur Duitse literêre kritici, filosowe en teoloë beskryf as een van die eerste voorbeelde van die Duitse mistieke beweging, in die 14de eeu tot 'n hoogtepunt gebring deur Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260-1328; Gibson 1989:121-2). Die teks is oorspronklik in Middellaagduits aangebied en het behoue gebly in Middelhoogduits en Latynse vertalings, totdat dit in die 19de eeu in moderne Duits vertaal is.

Die skrywer van hierdie teks (Mechtild 1980; van hier fLG) bied haarself aan as Mechtild,1 gebore2 in die eerste dekade van die 13de eeu en afkomstig vanuit die relatiewe jong en ontwikkelende Middeleeuse dorp Magdeburg. Vanuit die teks, met betrekking tot die aanbod van 'n deeglike kennis van filosofie, teologie en die Bybelse tekste self, is dit duidelik dat die skrywer akademies hoogs opgevoed was en waarskynlik familiebande met die laer-Saksiese adelstand gehad het. Hoewel sy haarself as 'ongeleerd' bestempel omdat sy nie Latyn kon lees of skryf nie, was haar Duitse taalgebruik elegant en foutloos. Soos haar vroulike Duitse voorganger Hildegard (sien Beukes 2019c), het Mechtild van jongs af visioene3 van God beleef, waarvan sy die eerste insident onthou toe sy 12 jaar oud was. Op die ouderdom van 22 besluit sy om haar lewe as non in diens van God te wy, maar van meet af aan buite die gevestigde ordes, waarteen sy krities gekant was, veral op grond van wat sy waargeneem het as, enersyds die hebsug en akademiese voortvarendheid van die vroeë skolastiese4 monnike en die andersyds na binne gekeerdheid van nonne, in sowel die Cistersiaanse, Dominikaanse en Franciskaanse ordes (Eliass 1995:86).5

Sy besluit daarom om nie aansoek te doen om as 'n nuweling in 'n nabye dogterklooster of een van die groter abdye in Duitsland toegelaat te word, waar sy van verdere akademiese opleiding verseker kon wees en as non georden kon word nie, maar om 'n bedelnon te word. Die woord bedel is in Afrikaans betreklik pejoratief en skakel maklik met opvattinge wat boemelary en luiheid impliseer. Allermins is dit wat die bedelordes was: Die begyne was godsdienstige groepe in die Middeleeue wat hulleself streng geslagtelik en grotendeels in terme van die gevestigde kloosterstrukture georganiseer het, sonder dat enige lid van die betrokke orde bindende geloftes moes aflê ten opsigte van 'n lewe in selibaat en om gestroop te word van bestaande of toekomstige individuele eiendom (wat juis die bron van inkomste van die meerderheid van kerklik gesanksioneerde ordes was; Eckenstein 2010:328-53). Bedelmonnike en bedelnonne was vry om te kom en te gaan, maar moes lojaal teenoor die betrokke bedelorde bly. Hulle was dus ook vry om die bedelorde permanent te verlaat sonder enige strafsanksie, maar kon nie na die spesifieke bedelorde terugkeer wanneer dit eenmaal verlaat is nie (Lewis 1989:24).

Tegnies het die bedelordes dus nie gebedel nie, maar was hulle wel vir die daaglikse onderhoud afhanklik van die barmhartigheid van die betrokke gemeenskap waarin hulle hul bevind het. In ruil het hulle in die gemeenskap versorgingswerk gedoen, wat ingesluit het die versorging van siekes, gebreklikes, bejaardes en weeskinders. Trouens, teen die helfte van die 13de eeu was die meerderheid verpleegsters in Duitsland bedelnonne (Eckelstein 2010:330). Bedelnonne was egter sosiaal blootgestel: juis omdat die bedelorde nie onder die toesig van die plaaslike klooster en provinsiale biskop gefunksioneer het nie, kon hulle nie op die soort beskerming aanspraak maak wat geordende nonne en monnike binne die kloosters en abdye geniet het nie. Juis hulle vrygeestigheid het hulle ook oopgestel vir voortdurende aanklagte van kettery (veral ten opsigte van wat beskou is as 'n antroposentriese teologie en 'n humanistiese mensebeskouing), seksuele immoraliteit (wat sporadies plaasgevind het binne die konteks van selfde geslag, maar binne die bedelordes allermins algemeen was) en openbare bedelary (wat wel voorgekom het, maar slegs wanneer die plaaslike gemeenskap die betrokke begyne versaak het; McDonnell 1954:45). In 1311 is die beweging van bedelordes by die konsilie van Vienne onder leiding van pous Clemens V (pous vanaf 1305-1314) finaal veroordeel (dieselfde konsilie het pouslike ondersteuning van die gevierde Ridders van die Tempelorde teruggetrek) en die bedelordes is daarna verban en ontbind (Bynum 1984:175). Dit was egter ruim drie dekades na Mechtild se afsterwe.

Die onafhanklike bedelordes, blootgestel soos wat hulle was, het Mechtild se vrye gees soos 'n handskoen gepas en sy sou vir die volgende 40 jaar, totdat sy waarskynlik net oor 50 jaar oud was, 'n bedelnon bly. In 1250 begin sy om haar lewe as bedelnon op skrif te stel en die enorme verguising te boekstaaf wat sy en ander bedelnonne moes verduur, maar veral ook sistematies rekenskap te gee van haar filosofiese en teologiese beskouinge, juis as mistikus. In die werk spreek sy skerp kritiek uit teen korrupsie in die kerk en die hebsug van die monnike in sommige kloosters en abdye. Die kritiek sou natuurlik heftig teengegaan word en sy is by meer as een geleentheid fisiek aangerand. Uiteindelik sou sy die bedelorde in Magdeburg weens 'n verswakte liggaam en bedroefde gees moes verlaat om wel toegang te vind in 'n klooster, waar sy as blinde in haar latere jare versorg sou word (Bynum 1984:173-86; Gibson 1989:132[1]).

Mechtild betree in ongeveer 1260 die klooster in Hefta, wat onder leiding van die abdis Gertrude van Hackeborn (ca. 1220-1291) in daardie stadium as 'n sentrum van geleerdheid, onderrig en versorging vir vroue - hoewel slegs as geordende nonne - ontwikkel het (Bynum 1984:175; Eliass 1995:86-97). Rondom 1282 sterf hierdie vrye gees in Hefta, uiteindelik wel as non georden, omring deur slegs enkele vriendinne. Heinrich von Halle sou haar werk, wat sy self met die hand geskryf en wat uiteindelik sewe afsonderlike boeke beslaan het, na haar dood in Latyn vertaal, ter wille van verhoogde toeganklikheid buite Duitsland. In die latere Middeleeue het die gerug lank die ronde gedoen dat Dante (1265-1321) toegang tot hierdie vertaling gehad het en dat Matelda in sy Purgatorio op die persoon van Mechtild geskoei was, maar dit is in die moderne navorsing telkens as 'n onwaarskynlike koppeling uitgewys (Gibson 1989:117).


Beweging as metafisiese en kosmologiese kernbegrip by Mechtild

Mechtild werk filosofies veel meer diskursief as haar Franse voorganger in die Middeleeuse vroulike tradisie, Héloïse d'Argenteuil (ca. 1100-1164; sien Beukes 2019b) en skerper op die kultuurkritiese spoor van haar Duitse voorganger Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179; sien Beukes 2019c). Met 'meer diskursief' word bedoel dat Mechtild 'n wye verskeidenheid van filosofiese temas binne haar uitset aanbied - anders as Héloïse, wat haar tot enkele temas beperk het. Ons tref egter 'n heeltemal uniek filosofiese leitmotiv by Mechtild aan, in terme van haar aanbod van beweging as 'n metafisiese en kosmologiese kernbegrip, met geen presedent tot in daardie stadium in die Middeleeue nie.6 In by verre die grootste deel van die Hellenistiese en skolastiese denke is beweging met onstabiliteit geassosieer en negatief gewaardeer, terwyl die statiese en onveranderlike - die vroeë skolastici het graag van 'hoe digter, hoe ligter' gepraat - met stabiliteit en met God self geassosieer is.

In die Neoplatonisme word daar wel aan die hand van afstygende emanasie 'n sin vir 'beweging' veronderstel.7 Mechtild se sin vir beweging, waaruit die 'vlietende' (fließende) lig van die Godheid blyk, vind aansluiting by Pseudo-Dionisius (ca.500) se Neoplatoniese vertrekpunt dat God 'anderkant syn' (hyperousios) is.8 Dit beteken dat God die basis vir alle synsvorme is, maar self nie-syn of 'n synsvorm is nie, en daarom absoluut onkenbaar en onverwoordbaar is. God is die Een, wat die eerste beginsel van die werklikheid is, anderkant syn en kennis, met die gelyklopende leerstelling dat 'om te wees, is om verstaanbaar te wees'. Dit bevestig dat wat ook al is, bedinkbaar is, verstaanbaar vir die verstand. Dit sou onmoontlik wees om 'n syn te postuleer wat nie bedink kan word nie, aangesien so 'n postulering reeds aankom op 'n bedenking van die syn. Verstaanbaarheid, dit wat deur die verstand begryp kan word, is in hierdie sin die wesenlike betekenis van syn. Syn is daarom in Neoplatoniese sin duidelik en tegelyk begrensd; alleen 'n definitiewe en begrensde 'dit' kan deur die verstand begryp word. Enige syn bestaan daarom in die gedetermineerde totaliteit van die eienskappe of attribute van daardie syn, waarom dit is wat dit is, en juis daarom begryplik is. Wanneer Dionisius God as hyperousios postuleer, beteken dit nie dat oor God slegs in terme van negatiewe predikate gepraat kan word nie; met ander woorde, dat slegs negatief gepostuleer kan word dat God 'nie is nie' of dat God 'onkenbaar is' - omrede die negatiefstelling of negasie steeds 'n denkhandelende aktiwiteit is en as sodanig God steeds, hoewel in die negatief, konseptualiseer. In daardie sin is daar geen korrektiewe verskil tussen God 'is' en God 'is nie' - om God se bestaan of enige wesenseienskap van God te negeer, beteken om God steeds as 'n gekonseptualiseerde objek te hanteer; hetsy enersyds in besit van of andersyds ontdaan van bepaalde wesenseienskappe. Om te postuleer 'God is onkenbaar' beteken effektief om God te identifiseer as 'n onkenbare wese - en maak dus wel aanspraak op kennis van God, hoe minimaal ook al. Daarom stel Dionisius dat God 'anderkant elke negasie en affirmasie'9 is. God is nie bloot onverwoordbaar en onkenbaar nie, maar is 'anderkant onverwoordbaarheid en onkenbaarheid'. Die vraag ontstaan of daar vanuit hierdie Neoplatoniese gerigtheid hoegenaamd oor God gedink en gepraat kan word, anders as om terug te trek in stilwording. Dionisius se antwoord is dat ons wel oor God kan praat, in die sin dat ons God kan benaam of kan ken vanuit die geskape dinge (dit is alle syn), as juis die oorsaak van daardie dinge of syn.10 Op die oog af beteken die aanduiding 'oorsaak' wel weer 'n indentifisering van God as syn, dan natuurlik begrens en verstaanbaar. Dionisius gebruik die begrip 'oorsaak' egter bepaald Neoplatonies: Aangesien 'is' of 'om te wees' beteken om determineerbaar te wees, is enige wese of syn vir die bestaan daarvan afhanklik van die gedetermineerdheid daarvan, sodat juis die gedetermineerdheid daarvan die oorsaak van die syn kan wees. God is die Skepper van alle dinge, as die konstituerende determineerder van alle dinge, wat elke ding determineer om te wees deur dit te maak 'wat dit is'. God is sodoende die 'Synheid van alle Syndes, sonder dat God self Syn is'.11 Dit alles dui op 'n metafisika van vervlietendheid, tegelyk 'is' en 'is nie'.

Mechtild het met haar sin vir beweging hierdie tegelyk 'is' en 'is nie' in gedagte; 'n beweging, maar so vervlietend, dat dit nouliks as beweging herken kan word. Sy begin haar verwerking van dié Neoplatoniese sin vir beweging aanvanklik met die vier elemente: die filosofiese basis van haar denke sou trouens herlei kon word na haar herhaalde verwysings na die vier elemente van aarde, lug, vuur en water (Franklin 1978:35; Gibson 1989:122). Hierdie vier elemente word deur Mechtild aaneengeskakel om die menslike en die Goddelike in verhouding te bring. Die antitetiese spanning tussen hierdie elemente word oorkom deur die transformasie van die elemente (byvoorbeeld water, ys en lug). Binne hierdie vloeibaarheid van die elemente word die menslike bestaan na liggaam en siel aangebied as 'n mikrokosmos van die grootste geheel, die kosmos self. As mikrokosmos is die mens inderdaad imago Dei, geskape na die beeld van God, wat opvallend vir Mechtild (soos vir die Switserse teoloog Emil Brunner in die 20ste eeu) op 'n relasionele kwaliteit of verhoudingsmoontlikheid tussen God en mens dui. Ten einde die vloeibaarheid van die elemente, die verhouding tussen God en mens, asook die mens (Neoplatonies) terugkerend na God aan te dui, begrond Mechtild die harmonie en integrasie van die kosmos nie in statiese vasstaandes of digthede nie, maar in beweging - beweging is vir haar die teken van syn, lewe en gees. Die elemente word deur beweging getransformeer vanaf 'swaarheid, onbeweeglikheid en nie-syn na ligtheid, beweging en syn' (Franklin 1978:160), waar beide God en die siel deur 'n reeks van onsigbaar beweeglike oorgange tot uiteindelike eenwording vorder.

Die bewegende siel kom uiteindelik tot rus in die bewegende God: hierin is ook 'n duidelike Augustiniaanse tema werksaam, van liefde as die siel se 'gewig', wat dit trek na die natuurlike rusplek daarvan in God (Gilson 1960:134-62). Die opvatting van 'onbeweegde beweging' of 'vlietendheid' as metafisiese kernbegrip, maak Mechtild sowel van toepassing op die verhouding tussen die Persone in die Drie-Eenheid (met nadruk op die Niceense begrip 'uitgaan'), as die oorsaak van die eenwordende liefde en vreugde tussen die menslike siel en God. Sy vind ook die vervulling van die siel en die diepste wese van God nie in 'n statiese toestand nie, maar in handeling: Die siel kom nie staties tot vervulling nie, maar handelend, 'synend' - en God is liefde daar waar God sy liefde doen (of God se liefde gedoen word). Weer is die klem op beweging en nie 'n toestand nie.


Emanasie en antroposentrisme

Trouens, Mechtild is minder geïnteresseerd in skepping en kosmologie as wat sy in herskepping is, ook wanneer sy Neoplatoniese emanasie in gedagte het: die morele dimensie gaan by haar die metafisiese dimensie vooraf; eers die werkwoord, dan die selfstandige naamwoord. So 'n bewegende kosmos is natuurlik minder ordelik en meer antroposentries as wat die klassieke, meer essensialistiese of intellektualistiese weergawes van emanasie bereid sou wees om toe te gee. Vir Mechthild (1980:2:22:42; sien 3:1:55)12 is die mens bo die engele verhewe, maagde langs die moeder Maria en Johannes die Doper en die apostels, langs (en nie benede nie) die serafim. Met inbegrip van hulle geestelike natuur en onvergelyklike intellek, is die engele inderwaarheid 'n minder glorieryke spieëlbeeld van die Goddelike natuur as die mens self, aangesien die engele nie die menslikheid van Christus of die mens, en daarmee saam, die liefde en gelyklopende lyding van Christus en die mens deel nie (1980:2:3:29; 4:14:107).

Sy gaan selfs verder in hierdie unieke bewegingsmatige antroposentrisme deur God self eerder te beskryf in terme van handelende liefde ('God is liefde', 1 Joh 4:8; 'So sal God alles wees vir alles', 1 Korintiërs 15:28), as met die statiese Hebreeuse frasering Jahwe, 'Ek is wat Ek is' - God is nie bloot wat God is nie, vir Mechtild is dit, op die spoor van Abelardus se Megariaanse argument (sien Beukes 2011), God doen wat God wel doen en God kan net doen wat God wel doen. God is aan die beweeg deur die skepping, oral gelyk teenwoordig, kenbaar vanuit die liefdevolle, menslike siel. God skep die menslike siel uit sowel die liefde vir God se eie vooreksistente menslikheid (in die tweede Persoon) as die individuele menslike siel. God se verlange na die siel is grensloos; die liefde dryf God selfs om 'die menslike siel te dien'. Dramaties en oorspanne soos wat dit moontlik kan aandoen, verantwoord Mechthild (1980:1:23:11-3) dadelik dat hierdie stelling die orde van die Goddelike en die menslike nie ondermyn nie, aangesien dit God se eerste natuur is om lief te hê (en sy stel dit innig met gebruik van die Duitse werkwoord minnen) en deur die mens se siel so te bemin, God gehoorsaam is aan net God self. Skepping na die beeld van God is 'n skepping in liefde ter wille van die beweging van liefde, ter wille van die werkwoord liefhê. Natuurlik is dit 'n kontroversiële posisie wat kort nadat fLG begin het om in die Duitse volkstaal te sirkuleer in die laat 1250's, hewig gekritiseer is. Mechtild antisipeer egter hierdie kritiek en verdedig haar vermindering van die ewige afstand tussen God en mens op grond van sowel God se liefde, as die mens se liefde, deur telkens te benadruk dat 'slegs omdat die skepsel self kan liefhê, kan daar gedeelde terrein tussen God en mens wees' (bv. 1980:1:44:21,1:39:18,2:3:27,6:1:174). Alleen omdat dit in die aard van die skepsel is om (God) lief te (kan) hê (sy beweeg nie algeheel verby die mens se roekelose selfvervreemding van God nie), is die terugkerende eenwording met God in reditus moontlik.


Genuanseerde epistemologie

Dit is binne die raamwerk van 'n Neoplatoniese kosmos, saamgestel uit en georden deur vervlietende beweging en liefde, met die aktiewe eenwording van die menslike en die Goddelike as die natuurlike en wedersydse oogmerk van God en mens, dat Mechtild se aardse antropologie ontvou. Hoewel die fisiese wêreld vir haar 'n plek vol versoekings is wat bogenoemde oogmerk voortdurend uitdaag, neem sy haar voor om 'die wêreld nie te spot nie' (1980:1:2:5, 3:5:66). In ooreenstemming met haar Middeleeuse voor- en medegangers se aversie aan die wêreld, gebruik sy nietemin dikwels ekstreem afwysende taal wanneer sy oor die wêreld praat, as 'stof', 'vuil' en die liggaam as die 'vyand' en 'kerker' van die siel (bv. 1980:4:2:94, 5:22.145). Tog onderbreek sy hierdie afwysinge deur prakties oor die liggaam se behoeftes te praat, insluitende die aptyte, en wys dat die 'korrupsie van dinge' in sonde (vir haar beteken dit die afstanddoening van die verhoudingsmoontlikheid tussen mens en God) tot uitdrukking gebring word, en nie in die wêreld of materie as sodanig nie (bv. 1980:1:3:6, 1:46:24, 2:25:49; 3:1:88). Die liggaam kan moontlik selfs 'n instrument vir verlossing wees, wanneer dit positief gebruik word om die spontane wil te oorkom (wat sy in die moderne Duitse vertaling Selbstwille13 of 'self-wil' noem), of dit in die gees of die liggaam self, tot uitdrukking gebring word: boonop argumenteer sy in die kenmerkende styl van die begyne, is dit deur die liggaam wat die deugde beoefen word, goeie werke gedoen word en dat daar wel miskien meriete kan wees, watter sprake daar ook al van meriete in hierdie verband kan wees, in die tegnies instrumentele sin van liggaamlike barmhartigheid: om 'jou liggaam en beweging uit te leen vir 'n ander' (of 'brood moet aangedra word, dit kom nie vanself by die verhongerdes uit nie', 1980:5:22:145; sien ook 6:6:180, 6:15:189, 6:26:201). Mechtild se spekulatiewe en affektiewe werk het gepoog om die ervaring en 'n sin vir algehele toewyding aan die transendente, met filosofiese refleksie te integreer. Daarin blyk dit dat die wêreld altyd weer té aangrypend is om bespot te word. Dat die wêreld met filosofiese insig geag word nié bespotlik te wees nie, vind ons in haar implisiete werksbegrip: 'Maak die wêreld nie tot bespotting nie'.

Hierdie begrip word uitgedruk deur 'n opvattting van liefde as die 'struktuur van die teenswoordige wêreld' waarmee 'hierdie wêreld self geag en benader behoort te word' (1980:121; 142; 225) omdat 'God dan self daarmee in liefde benader word' (1980:27; 31; 114). Nog duideliker stel sy (1980):

Onder die enorme druk van liefde, verloor sy haarself. In hierdie mees verblindende lig word sy blind in haarself. En in hierdie algehele blindheid sien sy die duidelikste dat die wêreld uit liefde nie bespot moet word nie. (p. 22)

Dan eers (1980:29) 'sien en smaak 'n mens dat die Godheid vloei'. 'n Mens sien die helderste wanneer jy blind geword het vir die materialisme van die wêreld en daarom die aangrypende ander kwaliteite van hierdie wêreld as die materiële kan waarneem.

Vanuit hierdie verblindende helderheid en heldere verblindheid vir die wêreld, waardeer Mechtild die sintuie positief binne 'n epistemologiese konteks. Hoewel sy opmerk dat haar eie mistiese en visioenêre ervarings van algemene ervarings verskil, gebruik sy meer gereeld die algemene sintuiglike ervaring van die werklikheid as 'n bron van kennis oor God (1980:6:31:205). Sy is nie tegnies Aristoteliaans, soos die skolastici van haar tyd, besig om die ervaring te ontleed nie, maar spits haar daarop toe om die verband tussen sintuiglike en intellektuele kennis te verduidelik.14 Sy vermeng hierdie twee kategorieë (wat in die Middeleeue normaalweg streng van mekaar onderskei is) met treffende geloofwaardigheid: ervaring kan volgens Mechtild nooit afsonderlik hanteer word as juis die rol wat dit binne 'n geordende epistemologie speel nie. Met 'geordende epistemologie' word bedoel dat kennis 'georden' is solank dit tot die realisering van 'n pertinente oogmerk meewerk en dat kennis nagejaag word ter wille van daardie realisering. Enige nie-teleologiese opvatting van kennis laat Mechtild koud: sy beskou filosofie ter wille van filosofie (ook teologie ter wille van teologie) as 'goddelose selfkoestering' (1980:6:31:205, 2:3:28, 6:4:179). Asketiese praktyke, onder meer selfflagellantisme, wat wyd in die bedelordes beoefen is en waaraan Mechtild haar gereeld onderwerp het, 'suiwer die sintuie' en skerp die rede op 'om te onderskei die dinge waarop dit werklik aankom' (1980:5:4:131). Die mens het die verantwoordelikheid om die sintuie en die rede sodanig op te voed, terwyl die gesuiwerde ervaring van God (in die sin dat die liggaam asketies gedissiplineer is) kan lei tot verligting van die rede en tegelyk verdieping van die sintuiglike belewing van die leefwêreld.

Die sintuie onderskei deur die ervaring objekte van mekaar en ontwikkel voorkeure op grond van daardie onderskeiding in verhouding tot mekaar. Mechtild werk dus met 'n aktiewe intellek: die sintuie opereer intensioneel en sy ontwikkel daarmee die volle skopus van die moderne Duitse vertaling van Sinne (waarmee sy na die fakulteite van die ervaring, sowel as waarneming as sodanig, na idees in die bewussyn, na betekenis, na verstaan en na rasionele kennis self verwys). Daarby voeg sy haar unieke opvatting van die 'geestelike sintuie', waarmee sy in gedagte het kennis van die Goddelike, na analogie van die wyse waarop die fisieke sintuie die ervaring voed, met daardie hele skopus van betekenisse wat sy in terme van Sinne daartoe voeg (1980:6:31:205). In die funksionering van beide die fisieke sintuie en die 'geestelike sintuie', is daar elemente van begeerte en die versterking van sensuele plesier, terwyl die geestelike ervaring 'n 'hoër perspektief' bied, wat die evaluerende rol van die fisieke sintuie 'gelyktydig uitbrei en oorstyg' (1980:5:22:146). Vanuit die klem op die funksies van die aktiewe intellek is Mechtild se kennisbegrip dus prakties, selfs tot dié mate dat 'n kontemplatiewe lewe vir haar beteken dat die deugde prakties in goeie werke moet realiseer.


Die driedelige verhouding tussen die siel en die sintuie

Die tersaaklike onderskeid vir Mechtild is dus nie tussen praktiese en teoretiese of materiële en nie-materiële kennis nie, maar tussen kennis van die menslike en die Goddelike. Sowel die kennis van die menslike as die Goddelike beskik vir haar oor 'n sintuiglike en 'n intellektuele komponent. Alhoewel die passiewe, materiële liggaam en die aktiewe nie-materiële siel fundamenteel verskil en in die teenswoordige lewe op verskillende wyses vervulling vind, word die twee intiem verenig in die sintuie, wat materieel, maar ook aktief en intensioneel opereer (1980:2:1:26, 2:22:42). Alle natuurlik verworwe menslike kennis, met inbegrip van die uitkomste van rasionele afleiding of inferensie, word volgens Mechtild deur die sintuie verwerk en hoort tot die sintuiglike werklikheid (1980:2:23:44, 5:2:130). Sy staan agterdogtig teenoor abstrahering en abstrakte argument, aangesien dit 'wegdwaal van die noodsaaklike korrektief van lyding soos deur die sintuie ervaar en verwerk is en blootgestel is aan verdere dwaling deur intellektuele hubris' (1980:5:4:131, ook 7:8:227 [waar Mechtild die reis na God deur lyding, deug, kennis en liefde beskryf]). God spreek die siel deur die sintuie aan, en menslike liefde (as keuse vanuit die vrye wil) neem vertrek vanuit die sintuie en kom vanuit die sintuie in die siel tot wasdom, antwoordend tot God (1980:5:4:131, 6:23:200, 6:31:205). Die siel lei dus die sintuie, wat die siel as't ware van kennis bedien, en tog is die siel en die sintuie voortdurend van mekaar bewus (1980:6:26:201, 1:26:14).

Mechtild spel hierdie wesenlike verhouding tussen die siel en die sintuie in drie belangrike dialoë uit, waarin die individuele of persoonlike siel en die sintuie, die siel en die verstaanshandeling, en die bewussyn en die verstaanshandeling, tot uitdrukking gebring word. In die eerste dialoog tussen die siel en die sintuie, met verwysing na die verhouding tussen die persoonlike siel en die sintuie, word die siel tot die stappe van vervulling deur die sintuie aangespoor, hoewel die siel terselfdertyd 'vooruit vlieg' en die sintuie nie in staat is om die siel in die opstygend emanasionele eenwording met die Godheid te volg nie. Die siel troos die sintuie daarmee dat sy die sintuie steeds sal benodig 'wanneer sy eenmaal terugkom' (1980:1:44:18). In die tweede dialoog word die verstaanshandeling aangebied as 'uiteindelik wyser as die eenvoudige siel', maar nie in staat om die siel self te volg in die siel se reis deur liefde nie. Daar plof die verstaanshandeling ineen: die verstaanshandeling herken die siel as 'beeld van God', maar kan die misterie van die eenwording tussen God en die siel nie penetreer en uiteindelik verstaan nie (1980:2:19:38). Wat bly dan oor in die verstaanshandeling as daar niks meer is om te verstaan nie? In die derde dialoog bevestig die verstaanshandeling opnuut die herkenning van die siel as die 'beeld van God', maar kan (weer) nie die vraag beantwoord waarom die siel vanuit die spontane natuur daarvan, nie self in staat is tot eenwording met die Godheid nie. Begelei deur die superieure perspektief van die bewussyn, begryp die ingeplofte verstaanshandeling uiteindelik dat 'n aktiewe beeld tekortskiet, naamlik die beeld van 'goeie werke wat liefde in beweging is' (1980:7:17:232). Met ander woorde: deur die geestelike bewussyn word die verstaanshandeling begelei om te verstaan dat dit nie verstaan nie. Mechtild sluit hierdie drie aangrypende dialoë af met twee kort gedigte, waarin die tema gevier word van 'die vrugbare vereniging van kennis en liefde in die wysheid van die sintuie begin' (1980:5:11:139, 7:43:257).


Die interafhanklikheid van die vorme van kennis

Mechtild maak dus die leer van die radikale interafhanklikheid van fisieke, intellektuele en geestelike kennis oop, terwyl sy verseg om intellektuele kennis van sintuiglike kennis te skei, of die kennende subjek van die kennende objek los te maak. Sy beskou die sintuie as kognitiewe elemente met 'n enorme vermoë, selfs om na God heen te reik. Die sintuie verteenwoordig die, volgens haar, vernaamste voorwaarde vir die beliggaamde lewe, wat teenswoordig sowel 'n vleeslike as vergeestelikte vorm aanneem. Wanneer die beliggaamde lewe (deur die dood) 'uiteindelik begenadig' word, 'neem die sintuie deel aan die vergoddeliking van die siel deur die opstygende eenwording met God' (1980:4:14:107). Volgens Mechtild is die uiteindelik enigste werklik betekenisvolle vorm van kennis die kennis wat tot uitdrukking kom in die eenwording met God, in die ervaring van God wat die enigste ervaring is vir 'blywende verstaan' (1980:1:44:20, 4:23:118). Die verstaan van die Goddelike is nie die resultaat van abstrahering of abstrakte intellektualisering nie ('n punt waarop feitlik elke vroeë skolastikus met haar sou verskil). Die verstaan van die Goddelike vind volgens haar plaas in die siel se transendering van die sintuie, wanneer dit ineens ook intellektuele herkenning transendeer - wat daarop volg, is in terme van die ervaring onverwoordbaar.

Die uiters begrensde rol wat Mechtild aan abstrakte kennis toeken, korrespondeer met haar beskouing oor die ware objek van menslike kennis, naamlik 'God wat geleef en gely het vir liefde'. Vir haar impliseer 'kennis van die rasionele feite' kennis van Goddelike liefde, die psigologie en ambivalensie van die menslike wil, en wispelteurige menslike liefde, wat nietemin 'n 'vooraanskouing' van God se liefde is (1980:4:23:119). Waar twee mense mekaar liefhet, is daar wel die vooraanskouing van die liefde van God. Waar 'n gemeenskap van mense mekaar liefhet, is dit die belewenis van die liefde van God. Waar die wêreld God liefhet, is dit die realisering van die liefde van God self. Mechtild aanvaar, selfs vanuit haar beperkte 13de eeuse sosio-kosmologiese verwysingsraamwerk, dat laasgenoemde 'altyd uitstaande' sal wees. Die hoogste intellektuele toestand is daarom uiteindelik net verwondering oor die wonder van Goddelike liefde en die hoogste oogmerk van die menslike bestaan in die beoefening van die deugde, in bewegende antwoord op daardie liefde.


Die etiek van sorg uit liefde vir die Ander

Mechtild se etiek tree na vore vanuit haar nadruk op die ervaring van liefde. Omdat die siel self 'n 'beeld' is, vertoon die siel 'n spontane en natuurlike inklinasie na die ware objek daarvan - God se liefde - tensy dit verblind is deur Selbstwille. Sy staan soos Salisbury (ca.1115-1180)15 in die Christelik Middeleeuse vryheidstradisie, wat beteken dat sy nie gepreokkupeerd is met die grense van toelaatbare handelinge of die ontleding van verpligtinge nie. Daarom bied sy ook geen advies aan ten opsigte van konflikterende verpligtinge nie. Sy verbind die deugde in soverre elke deug in verband met liefde gebring kan word, waaruit opvattinge na vore tree soos dat 'uit klein oortredinge kom wel groot sondes na vore', 'gehoorsaamheid16 en dankbaarheid is die hoekstene van deug' en 'self-wil is die grootste ondeug' (1980:6:19:196, 5:5:134, 6:7:182). Haar vernaamste etiese interesse is juis die private deugde, vanuit die enkeling se private verbintenis met God, wat die openheid en toeganklikheid van die individuele siel in nadering tot God verhoog.

Vanuit die Middeleeuse tradisie van Christelike vryheid, wat slegs buite die kloosterwese gefloreer het, plaas Salisbury kenmerkend (en Aristotelies) klem op 'matigheid'. Matigheid of die 'goue middeweg' is die strukturele eienskap van alle deugde waarmee 'n individu moontlik toebedeel kan wees: deugde soos dapperheid en die soeke na geregtigheid is as't ware middelpunte tussen ondeugde, soos oordaad of luiheid. Daarom moet die ondeugde self gebalanseerd geweeg word: bepaalde aktiwiteite soos jag, banketvieringe, seksuele aktiwiteit en alkoholgebruik is volgens Salisbury nie per definisie afwysbaar nie, maar moet in terme van reëlmaat en intensiteit geweeg word: solank as wat dit nie 'n oordrewe gewoonte is, of telkens met oordaad gepaardgaan nie, is dit aanvaarbaar. Matigheid is 'n etiese geleier en die basis vir 'n eties verantwoorde en gelukkige lewe. So moet die koning ook wees: iemand wat mag matig uitoefen, wat sy onderdane nie enersyds oorlaat aan hulle diskresies en drifte nie, maar wat andersyds nie so beheersugtig optree dat die onderdane se vermoë tot die uitoefening van vrye wil aan bande gelê word nie. Koninklike matigheid is die ekwivalent van die respek vir die ware sfeer van individuele vryheid, waartoe elke lid van die politieke gemeenskap toegang behoort te hê. Selfs die oordadige soeke na deug kan in hierdie sin ondeugsaam wees: wanneer die koning oormatig klem plaas op die deug van sy onderdane, kom dit op ondermyning van gematigde regering neer. Die koning behoort aan die onderdane genoegsame persoonlike vryheid te verleen, juis sodat hulle kan fouteer en daaruit kan leer, solank as wat die foute wat die onderdane maak, nie die wesensinhoude van die Christelike geloof ondermyn of die veiligheid van die politieke gemeenskap, in gevaar stel nie. Trouens, die vermoë van die individu om die deugde aan te leer, is afhanklik van die moontlikheid om daarin te faal (Beukes 2019d).

Dit was 'n werklik unieke polities etiese posisie in die 12de eeu en aspekte van Mechtild se etiek in die onwilligheid om streng kategorieë vir die deugde en morele gedrag op te stel, sluit hierby aan. Seksuele kuisheid is wel 'n deug, soos wat die kloosterskrywers inderdaad altyd aangedring het, maar by Mechtild is dit nie 'n problematiese kwessie nie, aangesien sy alle erotiese en libidinale energie na God self projekteer ('Die siel is God se vriend, beminde en huisvrou'; vgl. 1980:3:1:59, 4:14:108). Sy waardeer kuisheid andersins positief as 'n teken van toewyding, eerder as 'n stryd teen versoeking en vermorsing. Daarom was haar hantering van ongelukkig getroude, vervreemde en geskeide vroue, asook weduwees, deurgaans sagsinnig - in teenstelling met die oorwegend misoginistiese houding in veral die 12de en 13de eeue teenoor enkellewende vroue (sien Eliass 1995:14).

Hoewel Mechtild vanuit haar implisiete werksbegrip ('Maak die wêreld nie tot bespotting nie') belang het by en inderdaad belangstel in die sekulêre wêreld (anders as by verre die meeste kloostergangers van haar tyd, wat onteenseglik 'uit die wêreld' wou wees), beweeg sy nie oor tot 'n maatskaplike en politieke analise van die onrustige Duitse kultuurlandskap van die 13de eeu nie. Sy maak egter 'n punt daarvan om politieke mag herhaaldelik as ''n hindernis tot 'n vervulde en morele lewe' te tipeer (bv. 1980:6:1:171, 4:17:110, 3:21:86, 4:17:110, 5:35:169). Onverbloemd krities teenoor veral manlike gesagstrukture in die kloosters en die kerk van die 13de eeu, verleng sy daardie kritiek onvoorwaardelik na die politieke sfeer. Daarom dien dit volgens Mechtild 'geen doel meer' om, eie aan die vroeë skolastiek, met 'n tabel (Figuur 1) van deugde te werk, soos wat dit deur, onder andere, die 12de- eeuse Hildegard17 grondig uitgestal word nie. In stede daarvan om met so 'n tabel te werk, herlei sy daarom alle sosiale deugde na 'diens in liefde en liefde deur diens', wat na haar mening steeds korrespondeer met die feodale stelsel se diepste konsoliderende ideale (1980:6:1:171).

Sosiale verhoudinge word ten beste gereguleer deur die deugde wat 'n 'alledaagse bestaan in die nabyheid van die Ander' moontlik maak; daarom plaas Mechtild wel klem op deugde soos medelye, barmhartigheid, opgewektheid, gesonde oordeel, sagsinnigheid, geduld, diensbaarheid en beskeidenheid (1980:5:23:151, 6:1:171). Hierdie ingeoefende eienskappe - want vir Mechtild is geen deug 'n spontane eienskap nie - lei tot die goeie werke wat erns met die wêreld bevestig en is die stempel van haar oproep tot haarself en haar medegangers om die 'wêreld nie tot bespotting te maak nie'. Anders gestel: die etiek van deugde neem die wêreld ernstig op, sonder dat die deugde geskematiseer hoef te word. Hierdie deugde of ingeoefende eienskappe korrespondeer wel met die werke van selfopgelegde afsondering, gereelde vas en selfdissipline, soos in die kloosterwese met nadruk geïnstitusionaliseer, maar dit komplementeer juis die bedelordes se direkte ingrepe in en betrokkenheid by die wêreld, die uitreik na die blootgestelde Ander (juis deur mense wat self institusioneel en maatskaplik blootgestel is), die versorging van die afgetakeldes en die voeding van die verhongerdes - en, belangrik, selfs die 'stilstand by neerslagtiges' of psigologies gepynigdes (1980:5:22:146, 5:23:151, 6:1:172, 7:2:221).



Mechtild von Magdeburg verteenwoordig 'n sonderlinge kultuurkritiese stem vanuit die 13de eeu. Haar filosofiese perspektiewe verteenwoordig 'n metafisika, epistemologie en etiese psigologie van liefde, wat die wêreld konstant ernstig opneem. Haar nadruk op die vereniging van die menslike en die Goddelike, die primêre rol van die ervaring in kennisverwerwing en die belang by die Ander in 'n gebroke wêreld, staan alles ten dienste van haar indruk dat liefde die heersende beginsel van God en God se skepping is. Met weinig belangstelling in essensialistiese of kousale ontledings - uitgeslote die beginsel van liefde - en met weinig gemeen met haar vroeë skolastiese medegangers se intellektuele verfyning van die leefwêreld (weliswaar sonder om in hulle fyn mantels by daardie verfynde wêreld betrokke te raak), het Mechtild wel invloed uitgeoefen op die mistiese trajekte van die latere Middeleeue, in besonder op die Duitse trajek van Meister Eckhart in die volgende eeu.

Mechtild was so onfilosofies vir haar eie tyd as wat sy filosofies vir alle tye is: haar spekulatiewe werk het gepoog om die ervaring en 'n sin vir algehele toewyding aan die transendente, met filosofiese refleksie te integreer. Daarin blyk dit dat die wêreld altyd weer té aangrypend is om bespot te word. Dat die wêreld met filosofiese insig geag word nié bespotlik te wees nie, is die tydlose filosofiese geskenk vanuit die eelterige hande van 'n blinde, wyse begyn.

Ut enim monachōrum opera legerem, necesse erat mē ipsum monachum fierī.



Mededingende belange

Die outeur verklaar dat hy geen finansiële of persoonlike verbintenis het met enige party wat hom nadelig kon beïnvloed in die skryf van hierdie artikel nie.


J.B. was die enigste outeur betrokke by die skryf van die artikel.

Etiese oorwegings

Hierdie artikel volg alle etiese standaarde vir navorsing sonder direkte kontak met mens of dier.


Befondsing is verskaf deur die Departement Filosofie, Fakulteit Geesteswetenskappe, Universiteit van die Vrystaat.

Data beskikbaarheidsverklaring

Data-deling is nie van toepassing op hierdie artikel nie, aangesien geen nuwe data in hierdie studie geskep of ontleed is nie.


Die outeur verklaar dat standpunte ingeneem die outeur se eie standpunte is en nie die standpunte van enige institusie of organisasie reflekteer nie.



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Johann Beukes

Received: 13 Jan. 2019
Accepted: 11 Apr. 2019
Published: 12 Sept. 2019



1 . Ook as Mechthild en later as St Mechtildis gespel. Hierdie bespreking is gebaseer op 'n analise en sintese van die volgende primêre teks van Mechtild (1980, 1991), asook in besonder die volgende sekondêre tekste: Bynum (1984:228-34); Dickens (2009:71-86); Dronke (1984:202-28); Eliass (1995:54-64); Franklin (1978:35-170); Gibson (1989:115-40), Howard (1984:153-63) en McGowin (2011:607-22).
2 . Die volgende bio-afkortings, soos gangbaar in die Middeleeuse navorsing, word gebruik: ca. (circa, ongeveer in die tyd van); fl. (floruit, floreer of hoogtepunt bereik); g. (gebore) en d. (sterfdatum).
3 . Mechtild se visioene en poësie is nie soos dié van Hildegard met haar filosofiese uitset verweef nie en moet op 'n ander vlak geëksegetiseer word. Slegs die filosofiese aspekte in Das fließende Licht der Gottheit geniet dus hier aandag.
4 . Oor periodisering in die Middeleeuse filosofie, sien Beukes (2019a, 2019b, 2019c, 2019d). My sesdelige periodisering van Middeleeuse filosofie kom in kort op die volgende neer: (1) Die post-Romeinse periode (vyfde tot sewende eeue [410 {Alaricus I en die eerste barbaarse inval in Rome} tot 668 {d. Konstans II}], met Augustinus [354-430] en Boethius [480-524] as die belangrikste filosofiese eksponente); (2) Die Karolingiese periode (agste en negende eeue [742 {g. Karel I} tot 877 {d. Eriugena}], met Alcuin [730-804] en Eriugena [815-877] as die belangrikste Latyns-Westerse geleiers van die Karolingiese Renaissance, met inbegrip van die opkoms van Arabiese filosofie in die Ooste en Spanje); (3) Die post-Karolingiese periode (9de tot 12de eeue [877 {d. Eriugena} tot 1088 {aanvang van die kruistogte en die opkoms van die vroegste universiteitswese}], met Anselmus [1033-1109] en Abelardus [1079-1142] as die mees gevolgryke onder die Latyns-Westerse denkers wat sou baat by die rehabilitering van die antieke erfenis in die Karolingiese Renaissance); (4) Die vroeë skolastiese periode (11de tot 13de eeue [1088 {stigting van die Universiteit van Bologne, die eerste Europese universiteit} tot 1225 {g. Aquinas}]); (5) Die hoë skolastiese periode (13de tot 14de eeue [1225 {g. Aquinas} tot 1349 {d. Ockham}, met Aquinas, Duns Skotus en Ockham as die beroemdstes onder die hoe
̈ skolastici]); (6) Die post-skolastiese periode (14de tot 15de eeue [1349 {d. Ockham} tot 1464 {d. Kusa}]).
5 . Vir 'n oorsig oor Mechtild se kultuurkritiese verset teen die kloosterwese en die Duitse biskopdomme van die 13de eeu, sien Eliass (1995:75-101).
6 . Die aard van hierdie artikel is enersyds oorsigtelik, in die sin dat grondig aandag gegee word aan die relevante intellektuele geskiedenis. Die artikel is andersyds analities en sinteties, bedoelende dat die primêre teks so selfstandig moontlik gelees is sonder sekondêre teksbegeleiding of vertalings, waarna die sekondêre tekste geraadpleeg en getoets word aan my lesing, om tot 'n koherente sintese te kom.
7 . Die begrip emanasie dui Plotinus se bedoeling aan met die afstygende produksie van Syn vanuit die Een na die Verstand na die Siel en die laer dinge.
8 . Pseudo-Dionisius (1990: De Divinis nominibus I4,593A). Die lengte van verwysings volgens Harvard na Dionisius werk steurend in op die vloei van die teks. Daarom word verwysings na Dionisius se tekste per voetnoot hanteer.
9 . Pseudo-Dionisius (1990: De mystica theologia I.2,1000B; V,1048B).
10 . Pseudo-Dionisius (1990: De Divinis nominibus I.5,593 AB; I.5,593D; I.6,596A; De coelesti hierarchia IV.1,177D).
11 . Pseudo-Dionisius (1990: De Divinis nominibus V.4,817C,817D).
12 . Ek werk vanuit die Duitse teks en lys die uitstekende vertaling van Mesch (Mechtild 1991) vir eksterne kontroledoeleindes. Verwysings na Das fließende Licht der Gottheit (fLG; Mechthild 1980) word hierna per boek, hoofstuk en bladsynommer aangedui.
13 . 'Self-wil' kom vir Mechtild aan op eliminering van die psigologiese fakulteit van die wil (hetsy superieur tot of ondergeskik aan die intellek), sonder dat sy die intellek daarmee tot superieur tot die wilsmatige verhef.
14 . Mechtild staan agterdogtig teenoor filosofie in geïnstitusionaliseerde gedaante, hetsy binne die kerklik gesanksioneerde, teologiese fakulteite van die opkomende universiteite, hetsy binne die kloosterskole en katedraalskole wat onder die toesig van die plaaslike abdye geval het. In daardie opsig adem sy dieselfde suspisie teenoor filosofie wat in die middel van die 11de eeu in Frankryk onder leiding van figure soos Petrus Damianus (1007-1072) wyd verspreid was (sien Beukes 2019a).
15 . Gibson (1989:118) dui oortuigend aan dat Salisbury, Pseudo-Dionisius, Albertus Magnus en Hildegard, onder Mechtild se belangrikste invloede tel: waarskynlik omdat Salisbury self nie 'n kerklike ampsdraer of geordende monnik was of wou wees nie.
16 . Let daarop dat 'gehoorsaamheid' vanuit die bedelordes en juis by Mechtild 'n ander betekenis gehad het as die soort betekenisse wat tydgenootlike en voorafgaande kloosterskrywers in gedagte gehad het. Vir die kloosterskrywers beteken 'gehoorsaamheid' in die eerste plek 'n dienstigheid en gehoorsaamheid aan die onmiddellike kloostersenior. Die orde in die kloosters was van hierdie dienstige en subordinerende premisse afhanklik. Vir Mechtild beteken 'gehoorsaamheid', bykans libertyns, gehoorsaamheid aan God alleen en verantwoordelikheid teenoor God alleen, met verbygaan van enige kerklike of opsighoudende struktuur.
17 . Vergelyk byvoorbeeld hierdie deel uit 'n lang tabel in Hildegard se tweede werk in haar trilogie, Vitae meritorum, waarvan die bron die vierde-eeuse digter Prudentius se Psychomachia was, waarin deugde en ondeugde tabelmatig en diskursief teenoor mekaar opgestel is. Die Middeleeuse etiek is deur hierdie werk grondig geïnspireer, soos wat blyk uit die veelheid van sodanige etiese tabelle in die skolastiese periodes as sodanig. Aangrypend soos wat hierdie tabelle opval, is Mechtild geensins daarin geïnteresseerd nie, hoewel sy sonder enige twyfel toegang tot Hildegard se volledige korpus gehad het (sien Beukes 2019c:12).

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Reading 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 in the context of intimate partner violence in Nigeria



Solomon O. Ademiluka

Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa





In Nigeria, most of the mainline churches forbid divorce and remarriage, and one of the passages most popularly quoted in support of this doctrine is 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. The traditional interpretation teaches that marriage is 'for better, for worse' and should be between one man and one woman for life. In view of the fact that this mode of interpretation is capable of enhancing the already high rate of domestic violence, this work examines the text in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Nigeria. Applying the analytical and exegetical methods, the essay investigates the possible correlation between the doctrine of no divorce and IPV. The research found that when understood against its specific context, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 permits divorce and remarriage on grounds of adultery, and allows a deserted Christian spouse to remarry. It can also be deduced from the chapter that when IPV poses threat to life, divorce may be the appropriate response, and the affected spouses are free to remarry. In this way, a proper understanding of the passage can go a long way to reducing the rate of domestic violence in Nigeria. It is noteworthy, however, that the overall intent of the text is to protect marriage as a permanent institution, hence even when divorce has taken place, the church and concerned couples should still seek reconciliation.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The work employs the analytical approach for the investigation of the correlation between the doctrine of no divorce and IPV, and the exegetical method to the study of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 and other related texts.

Keywords: divorce; remarriage; Christians; Nigeria; IPV.




Simply defined, intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to any act which a person carries out to hurt another with whom he or she is in some form of emotional relationship, such as between husband and wife. Intimate partner violence is a social problem that is currently prevalent all over the world. In Nigeria, as in most parts of Africa, women are often at the receiving end of IPV. While there are many factors that engender IPV, this article endeavours to establish a possible correlation between violence against women and the prohibition of divorce and remarriage in some churches in Nigeria as based on 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. As Nigeria is a large country, the study of a Christian doctrine will be more comprehensive if it focuses on a specific region; however, in this country, doctrinal differences are manifest more along denominational than regional lines. In most African-initiated churches, divorce and remarriage are no issues as they are welcome practices; hence, this work focuses on the doctrine of no divorce as officially taught in the mission-oriented churches. In these denominations, the doctrine on marriage and divorce largely follows the traditional interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7. Apparently relying on verses 10-11 and 39, this interpretation postulates that marriage should be between one man and one woman for life; it is also 'for better, for worse', that is, on no account should one divorce.

The present author views this mode of interpretation as capable of enhancing the already increasing rate of IPV in Nigeria, as abused spouses are often urged to remain in even the most life-threatening marriages. The aim of this article, therefore, is to investigate the possible correlation between the prohibition of divorce based on 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 and IPV in Nigeria; it also examines the text against its social context with a view to ascertaining its original intent in relation to divorce and remarriage. Thus, the significance of the research resides in the establishment of a nexus between the doctrine of no divorce and IPV; the significance which applies specifically to those Nigerian churches that hold tenaciously to this teaching. The work employs the analytical approach for the investigation of the correlation between the doctrine of no divorce and IPV. In order to do this analysis, material is gathered on divorce prohibition as taught by the churches concerned as well as the increasing rates of divorce and IPV in Nigeria. The article applies the exegetical method to the study of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 and other related texts, examining these passages against their original socio-religious backgrounds.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

The Christian doctrine on marriage and divorce in Nigeria

In Nigeria, apart from some African-initiated churches which permit divorce and remarriage (Kunhiyop 2008:250), the Christian doctrine on marriage and divorce adheres to the literal interpretation of the New Testament passages bordering on the subject, namely the sayings of Jesus in the synoptic gospels, and especially 1 Corinthians 7. Most Christians involve the church in their marriage processes, particularly the solemnisation, the occasion during which couples are admonished to adhere to the Christian tenets on marriage. 'One of these tenets is the dogma of "for better, for worse", which means the couple must accept the consequences of their decision whatever the outcome, good or bad' (Anenga 2017). This dogma simply encapsulates the prohibition of divorce as it obtains in many denominations. Most denominations in Nigeria officially adhere to this teaching, in which couples are expected to 'endure whatever challenge they are facing even at the risk of their lives' (Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 2012). The Constitution of the Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion) emphasises that (Adesanya 2009):

The Church believes that marriage, by divine institution, is a life-long and exclusive union and partnership between one man and one woman. Indeed the Church's rites at marriage ceremonies state as much. It is a union that endures till 'death do us part'. (p. 3)

Most denominations administer this oath to their members during the wedding solemnisation, in which both bride and groom promise to keep 'in sickness or in health, in riches or in poverty, for better, for worse and forsaking all others as long as you both shall live' (The Redeemed Christian Church of God 2010:6; cf. United Missionary Church of Africa 2013:8).As we shall see later, the notion that couples are bound by their marriage oath until either of them dies derives from a traditional interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:39.

The definiteness of the prohibition of divorce can be illustrated with the position of the Roman Catholic Church. In obedience to Jesus' teaching (Moore 2017):

The Church believes that marriage is a lifelong bond (cf. Mt 19:1-10). The Catholic Church does not permit divorce for valid sacramental marriages. In fact a valid sacramental marriage is impossible to dissolve thereby making divorce not possible if the marriage was sacramental. In marriage the two become one flesh in a union joined by God (Mk 10:8-9). So for a marriage that meets the requirements of being a sacrament, divorce in the Catholic Church is not possible. (n. p.)

However, the Catholic Church practices what is called marriage annulment, which can easily be confused with divorce, even though it maintains that the two are different from each other. While divorce is a civil law decree from the state, an annulment occurs when (Moore 2017):

A Church tribunal declares that a marriage thought to be valid actually fell short of the essential elements required for a binding union [Hence] an annulment basically says that the Sacrament of Matrimony never took place to begin with [Thus whereas] a civil divorce basically says that what was once a marriage is no longer a marriage a Church annulment declares that the Sacrament of Matrimony didn't occur from day one. (n. p.)

It is important to note, however, that in spite of the stern prohibition, divorce is still rampant among Christian couples in Nigeria; and this is widely acknowledged by the leadership of the Church itself. In this regard, Pastor Adebola Ogunleye of the Foursquare Gospel Church, Lagos, described as alarming the rate of divorce among Christians, urging members to address the 'root causes of marriage problems leading to divorce' ('Cleric laments ' 2018). Similarly, Bishop Michael Frencher of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has decried 'the rate at which young Christian couples divorce in Nigeria' (Christian Media in Nigeria 2015). The church leaders are not only worried about the problem of divorce among Christians, they have also suggested some solutions for it. According to the Bishop, to minimise divorce among Christians in Nigeria, there is need to 'inculcate Christian virtues on families' (Christian Media in Nigeria 2015).They also believe that the various denominations can check the alarming rate of divorce 'through regular counseling of couples, especially after marriage' (Johnson 2018). Marriage counselling should not be limited to the period of courtship, but should continue after the wedding; in this way, divorce among Christian couples will be considerably reduced.

While the factors responsible for divorce are varied, in Nigeria, most cases of divorce among Christians are preceded by IPV. Hence, in the following sections, we shall examine the prevalence of this menace in Nigeria, and how the attitude of the church towards it is influenced by its prohibition of divorce.

Intimate partner violence in Nigeria

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Intimate Partner Violence encompasses acts of stalking, psychological aggression, physical violence or sexual violence - behaviors and tactics through which an intimate partner seeks to establish and maintain power over another. (cited by Hasstedt & Rowan 2016)

As further explained by the CDC, an intimate partner is a person with whom one has or had a close personal relationship that is characterised by 'emotional connectedness, regular contact, ongoing physical contact and/or sexual behavior, identity as a couple, familiarity and knowledge about each other's lives' (CDC 2014). Sexual violence is a prominent form of IPV, and the CDC defines it as:

An attempted or committed sexual act perpetrated against a person who has not freely given consent or is unable to refuse [which] includes rape [and] other forced or unwanted sexual contacts. (CDC 2014)

The term 'domestic violence' is often used synonymously with 'intimate partner violence'. Thus, according to the United States (US) Department of Justice:

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. (cited by Essien 2017).

Putting it simply, Kunhiyop (2008:244) states that '[d]omestic violence involves the abuse of power in intimate relationships within a household'. Some people equate IPV with women abuse, in that (although women perpetrators of IPV are not lacking) most often women are the victims (Kirk-Dugan 2012:259). As Kunhiyop (2008:244) puts it, women are usually the victims of domestic violence as it is rarely perpetrated by women against men.

The prevalence of IPV is attested all over the world. Folayan et al. (2014) affirm that worldwide women frequently 'face tremendous sexual violence'. This fact is buttressed by a 2014 UNICEF report which confirms that 'around 120 million girls worldwide have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives' (Babajide-Alabi 2017). In Africa, IPV is prevalent in the form of women abuse. Many believe that the African patriarchal culture makes the African woman vulnerable to domestic violence in numerous ways. According to Okorie (2003:258), the African woman is better 'described as a "woe-man" [as] she is always at the receiving ends of cultures and traditions which suppress, oppress, exploit, and abuse her'. Baloyi (2010a:2) identifies several ways by which the African patriarchal culture leaves room for violence against women. According to him, there are African idioms which emphasise and encourage domination of women, and women are often beaten and sexually abused in Africa (cf. Partab 2011:96). Abogunrin (2003:2) explains that '[w]omen suffer stereotyped expectations of subordination as sex objects with no mind or will of their own'. In another article, with a focus on South Africa, Baloyi (2010b) portrays African culture as one in which women are viewed as sexual objects, and this is reflected in both print and electronic media, indicating that women abuse 'is one of the fastest growing misdeeds in South Africa'. Violence against women is similarly rampant in Nigeria. Some 'reports have shown that 4% - 6% of all adolescent girls in southwestern Nigeria experience rape' (Folayan et al. 2014). One study reveals '181 rape cases within six months in Lagos State alone' (Baffour 2014). In Nigeria, there is no age limit to rape; 'children, babies, adolescents, matured adults, mothers, grandmothers, and women of over 70 years are raped' (Baffour 2014).

However, more important for the purpose of this research are the various forms of physical violence other than the sexual. In Nigeria, as in many parts of Africa, corporal punishment for wives 'is widely sanctioned as a form of discipline' (Ose 2009). As Baloyi (2013:1) rightly observes, among some African people, 'the practice of wife beating has become an accepted way of keeping wives under control'. Hence, when men beat their wives they 'believe they are instilling discipline in them [as women] are regarded as children who can be prone to indiscipline if not disciplined' (Agbonkhese & Onuoha 2017). Unfortunately, in some parts of Nigeria, as in other parts of Africa, even the majority of women themselves 'believe that physical abuse is most times justified' (Agene 2017), as they have been made to believe that it is an inevitable part of African tradition (cf. Baloyi 2013:1; Okenwa et al. 2009).

This might explain the widespread nature of domestic violence in Nigeria, as in other parts of Africa. It is reported that in Nigeria, 25% of women 'go through ordeal of domestic violence' (Hart 2016). In the enumeration of Antai (2011), in Nigeria, acts of physical violence against women include:

i) pushing, shaking or throwing something at her; ii) slapping her or twisting her arm; iii) punching or hitting her with something harmful; iv) kicking or dragging her; v) strangling or burning her; vi) threatening her with a weapon (e.g., gun or knife); and vii) attacking her with a weapon. (Online)

Igbelina-Igbokwe (2013) includes other acts like 'wife battery, acid bath harmful traditional practices (e.g., female genital mutilation), widowhood rites/disinheritance, deprivation of material and economic resources [and] restriction of mobility'. Delano (1998) affirms that these forms of abuse are widespread across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the author, surveys conducted in this region reveal that in Nigeria '81 percent of married women report being verbally or physically abused by their husbands. Forty-six percent report being abused in the presence of their children' (Delano 2017:n.p.).

Before we examine the attitude of the church in Nigeria to domestic violence among its members, it is important to point out that the church itself is not absolved from the problem. This is because women abuse is often reported among church leaders and pastors, which invariably influences the attitude of the church to IPV. Such reports indicate that 'some men on the altar are demons disguised as angels' in view of the fact that some church elders and pastors have been found guilty of rape, wife battery and other criminal acts against women (Woman.NG 2017). Stories abound of youth pastors raping underage and teenage girls who are members of their congregations (Woman.NG 2017).

There are reports of wife beating even among pastors. For example, it is reported that a pastor in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had the habit of beating his wife, although 'the elders of the church knew about it [but] everyone [was] afraid to touch God's anointed' (Fowowe 2015). Egbujo (2015) tells the story of a Lagos-based 'urbane vicar (Anglican) whose sense of piety tolerated chasing his wife around the church premises in full glare of congregants to effect priestly moral chastisement'. In 2017, at Awka in Anambra State, a pastor of a charismatic church, identified as Everitus, reportedly beat his wife, Fidelia, to death because of disagreement over money for Christmas food (Elekwa 2017). Similarly, Anenga (2017) relates the story of a church elder in Benue State who beat his wife to death. Until that incident, this church had upheld the traditional principle of 'for better, for worse'. According to Anenga (2017), before her death:

The woman who was also a church leader, would report her situation [of being beaten] to the church council, but the pastor and elders of the church would always encourage her to hang on, citing the scriptures and reminding her of her status as woman leader, and above all, the marriage doctrine of 'for better, for worse'. (n. p.)

When the murder occurred, Anenga narrates further, 'the pastor felt very guilty because unlike other mourners, he had a chance to save the woman but rather acted otherwise just to preserve the image of the church' (Anenga 2017:n.p.). With this incident, however, the church council revised its policy on divorce. Since then it has allowed for 'couples who are under persistent physical abuse to live separately (not divorce) in the interest of their life, and that of the children' (Anenga 2017:n.p.).

The attitude of the church to intimate partner violence

The case narrated above depicts the attitude of the church to women abuse in Nigeria. In view of the prohibition of divorce, in Nigeria, as in many other places, the counselling that abused women usually receive from the church is to endure it. As Grady (2001) puts it:

Significant numbers of Christian pastors ordinarily would tell a woman being abused that she should continue to submit and to trust that God would honor her action by either stopping the abuse or giving her the strength to endure it and would never advise a battered wife to leave her husband or separate because of abuse. (n. p.)

Similarly, Richards (1990:216) opines that no divorce is what many pastors counsel abused wives because they feel they have not the right to encourage them contrary to God's word. Pastors do not only advise abused women to endure but sometimes also put the blame on them. Oftentimes, a victim is accused of being beaten because she is not submissive, whereas (Maluleke & Nadar 2002):

[T]he bible says she must be submissive; she is the one who needs to be counseled, marriage is like that They cite the bible that divorce is not permissible; anyone who tries to separate couples would face the wrath of God because what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. (pp. 7, 9)

This submission is buttressed by Mate (2002) in her comparative study of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZOAGA) and the Family of God churches' women's fellowship in Zimbabwe, in which 'she argues that the churches teach women to endure hardship in their marriages' (cited in Biri 2016:225). The encouragement to remain in abused marriages is often performed with the threat that divorcees will not make heaven, quoting scriptural passages held as forbidding divorce (Essien 2017). The suffering of victims is compounded when the encouragement to endure comes from women like themselves. Some Christian women leaders often encourage an abused woman to remain in her marriage, 'advising that she is not alone in her challenges because many others are undergoing the same' or even worse treatment (Biri 2016:235). Some women leaders describe men as naturally made to lead, dominate and rule, and must always be obeyed in all things, including their insatiable desire for sex (Guti 2006, cited in Biri 2016:226). In this way, the traditional African perception of the subservience of women is inherited by the church. For instance, among the Shona of Zimbabwe, a woman should not divorce but the husband may divorce her at his will - a perception inherited by ZOAGA (Biri 2016:228). This perception is also held in the traditional Yoruba (Nigerian) setting (Akinwumi 2012:249).

Another attitude of the church that can of discourage victims of domestic violence from liberating themselves is the treatment of divorcees. Ordinarily, in Africa, most women would want to remain in their marriages in spite of all odds in order 'to escape the social opprobrium of being labeled divorcees' (Biri 2016:228). Inadvertently exploiting this perception, some denominations treat divorcees with contempt and segregation, as 'they are sometimes not allowed to hold certain offices' in the church (Essien 2017). In this regard, Richards' (1990:237) submission is relevant for the Nigerian context. He affirms that in some denominations 'no divorced person can teach Sunday school or sing in choir. No divorced person can serve in a committee. And no divorced person can be remarried in the church'. It is noteworthy, as seen earlier, that these punitive attitudes are supported from the Bible; hence, Phiri (2002:25) is correct when she states that for partners in abusive relationships such passages 'become a death trap'.

On the whole, the attitude of the church in Nigeria to IPV is to endeavour to keep marriages intact even in situations where relationships have become life-threatening. The most the church seems to be willing to do, as seen in the story narrated by Anenga (2017) above, is to allow couples suffering violence to separate, but not to divorce. For instance, in the Catholic Church (Moore 2017):

In cases where living together has become too difficult or practically impossible, the Church permits a physical separation of the spouses but the two still remain married [because] their marriage bond [is] indissoluble. (n. p.)

In this way, the church adheres to the doctrine of prohibition of divorce and remarriage, principally supported with 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Hence, in the following sections, we shall examine the social context of 1 Corinthians 7, and the intent of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 in relation to divorce and remarriage.

The socio-religious background of 1 Corinthians 7

That the Apostle Paul was the author of First and Second Corinthians is rarely disputed among scholars (Carter & Levine 2013; Winter 1994). As attested in 'Acts 18:1-7, Paul founded the church at Corinth after his visit to Athens', which is commonly dated around 50 CE (Winter 1994:1161, cited by Ademiluka 2017). Subsequently, Paul wrote to the congregation (Ac 1:1; 5:9), to which the Corinthians responded with visits from members of the church (1 Cor 1:11; 5:1; 7:1; 16:17-18) (Carson et al. 1992:259; Carter & Levine 2013:134). As evident in the report brought to him by 'some from Chloe's household' (1 Cor 1:11), after Paul left Corinth some controversies arose in the new church (Carson et al. 1992:259). We are really not sure of the nature of these controversies but from references such as 1 Corinthians 7:1, 8:1, 12:1 and 16:1, the major issues most likely concern 'factionalism and internal community relations, sexual ethics, and relations with people outside the church' (Carter & Levine 2013:135).

The matter that Paul responds to in Chapter 7 seems to border on debates about celibacy, as the chapter opens with: 'Now concerning the matters about which you wrote, it is well for a man not to touch a woman' (7:1, RSV [Revised Standard Version]). The RSV, like some other versions, thus gives a literal translation of the Greek meaptesthai [not to touch], which connotes the idea of having sexual intercourse. Some versions (e.g. ESV [English Standard Version]) actually render it as 'not to have sexual relations with a woman'. However, the rendering 'not to marry' (as in NIV [New International Version] and Today's English Version [TEV]) is more appropriate in view of verse 2, which advises everyone to marry 'because of the temptation to immorality'. The writer's intention is therefore better rendered 'It is good for a man not to marry' (NIV). Thus, the inquiry from the Corinthians to Paul most probably had to do with 'certain individuals who, out of religious motives, had voiced a wish for abstinence' from marriage (Baumert 1996:26). Apparently, having just been converted to Christianity, some Corinthians felt the urge for more devotion to the spiritual life, to which they saw marriage as a hindrance; hence, in 7:1, Paul responds to such persons' expression of their desire for celibacy (Baumert 1996:25). As can be reconstructed from 1 Corinthians 7, in the Corinthian church, all categories of members, married people (1 Cor 7:1-5, 10-16), single people (1 Cor 7:6-9) and engaged people (1 Cor 7:25-40) wanted answers to how to 'respond to the spiritual impulse towards abstinence' (p. 27). In 1 Corinthians 7, therefore, Paul was 'discussing marriages [and relationships] threatened by asceticism' (Abogunrin 2005:269).

There are indications in Paul's response that the desire for celibacy among members of the Corinthian church was also possibly being influenced by contemporary religious and philosophical thought on marriage. According to Keener (1993):

Divergent views on celibacy existed in the ancient world. Most ancient writers condemned it [while] many Jewish teachers even considered it sinful, because reproduction was essential and marriage was the proper deterrent from sexual offenses and distractions. [However,] a number of groups of philosophers and minor religious sects as well as many Essenes among the Jews advocated celibacy or the rejection of marriage. [To them,] marriage is distraction and should never be undertaken by the wise man except in the rare instances where one might find a spouse equally devoted to the philosophic life. [To some others,] marriage is good for most people, but one must make exception for those too committed to other spiritual pursuits to take time for it. (p. 466)

Thus, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul responds to converts who probably shared the view that marriage would not be compatible with their new spiritual lives. Hence, in this chapter, 'Paul is not dealing with abstractions, but with de facto conditions' (Okorie 2001:77). As Baumert (1996:27) rightly affirms, 'this is the key to the entire text. If on the other hand one ignores this Stizim Leben, and rather - which often occurs when the text is proclaimed in the liturgy - the statements are taken as general counsels for everyone, this can lead to serious misunderstandings'.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 in relation to divorce and remarriage

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Paul commands a wife not to 'separate' from her husband, and the husband not to 'divorce' his wife (RSV). Some other translations (e.g. New American Standard Bible [NASB]) use 'leave' instead of 'separate' and 'send away' in place of 'divorce'. The English versions may give the impression of a different form of command to husband and wife but the Greek verbs 'to separate' (chorizo, to depart, leave) and 'to divorce' (aphiemi, to let go, send away) 'were often synonyms for divorce and probably function as such in this text' (Keener 1993:467; cf. Adams 1980:34; Baumert 1996:53). That chorizo in this passage also means 'to divorce' is buttressed by the fact that Paul says that if the wife does indeed separate, she must remain unmarried (agamos):

Thus the separation he has in view in this passage is separation by divorce because it was a separation that resulted in an agamos or unmarried state. Paul was [therefore] thinking of the finalized result of the divorce process. (Adams 1980:34)

Moreover, interpreters are unanimous that 'the idea of an enduring, definitive "separation" while the marriage itself continues nominally was unknown in Jewish and Christian circles' (Baumert 1990:53; cf. Adams 1980:34).

Hence, the situation Paul responds to in this text is most probably one in which the desire for celibacy threatens an established marriage. Apparently, because of 'religious rigorism one partner wishes to really dissolve the marriage so as to be able to live celibately ' (Baumert 1996:52, 53).Many are in agreement that at the background lay some religious exuberance in which an ascetic view possibly 'saw conjugal activity as a hindrance to one's spiritual life' (Okorie 2001:70). There are suggestions that Paul is referring to a situation where the protester (most probably the wife) had already deserted the husband, or was about to leave when his visitors from Corinth came with the news. To this end, Paul 'writes presuming that the divorce is a fait accompli' (p. 70). It may be for this reason that Paul has to strengthen his directive with Jesus' command on divorce, thereby insisting that the wife must not separate from her husband, but if she has indeed left, she must remain unmarried or 'reconcile with her former husband' (p. 70). Thus, when taken at its face value, this passage forbids divorce as already commanded by Jesus. If divorce does take place, the initiator must remain unmarried or be reconciled to his or her spouse, which implies that remarriage is also being forbidden. Perhaps, it is this literal view that led to the traditional interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (often supported with v. 39) of an outright prohibition of divorce.

However, before we can correctly interpret Paul's position in this passage, we have to understand the command of Jesus which he alludes to. It is hardly disputed that Paul's allusion is to Jesus' teaching on divorce as contained in the gospels (Mk 10:2-12; Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Lk 16:18). In the Markan and Matthean accounts, the Pharisees query Jesus if it is lawful to divorce one's wife for any reason. Rather than answering the question directly, Jesus refers them to Genesis 2:24 which states that originally, God did not intend couples to be separated, but husband and wife to become one flesh. Therefore, 'what God has joined together, let not man put asunder' (Mt 19:6, RSV). Apparently not getting the answer they wanted, the Pharisees query further why Moses allowed them to divorce a woman by simply giving her a certificate of divorce, thereby referring to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. According to the account in Mark, Jesus replies that Moses did it because of the Hebrew man's hardness of heart, adding that 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery' (Mk 10:11-12, RSV). But the corresponding portion in Matthew includes the so-called exception clause, ' whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery' (Mt 19:9; cf. 5:32, RSV).

There are varied suggestions why the exception clause appears in Matthew but not in the other gospels. Some regard Mark 10:2-12 as Jesus' real statement on divorce and the exception clause as a later addition by Matthew. For example, in the opinion of Heth (1990:95), the exception clause 'is not part of genuine teaching of Jesus'. But Edgar (1990:168) argues that the exception in Matthew 'must be understood as an omission of a detail by Mark' and Luke, rather than an addition by Matthew. Some also reason that the disciples' reaction to Jesus' statement ('If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry' [Mt 19:10]) is too strong to have been a response to the so-called exception; so Jesus did not state any exception (Edgar 1990:168). However, as we shall see presently, it is possible that the Jewish society of the disciples' day was one which supported divorce for any reason. In that case, Jesus' allowance for divorce only on grounds of sexual immorality was a hard one, which would explain the disciples' reaction (Edgar 1990:171). Keener (1993:161) seems to support the fact that Jesus' position on divorce was relatively hard when he opines that Jesus' statement that any man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery 'is hyperbolic, that is, it has exaggerated intensified force. No one else in antiquity spoke of divorce in such strong terms'. Some who view Matthew's exception as a later addition suggest it is an attempt by him to soften a total prohibition of divorce by Jesus which soon proved unworkable in real life (France 1994:929). Against this view, France (1994:929) opines that Matthew might simply be 'spelling out what any Jewish reader would have taken for granted, that marital unfaithfulness automatically annulled a marriage'. To buttress this point, he refers to Joseph's dilemma when he found Mary to be pregnant (Mt 1:18-19), whereas they had not met sexually, which implies that she must have committed adultery. In the Old Testament, the penalty for this act was death, but by the time of Joseph, a formal annulment of the engagement or marriage was the normal response. Another view regards Matthew's exception clause as 'an exegetical addition which he attributed to Jesus' divorce sayings in an attempt to apply it to the situation of his audience' (Omowole 2006:131). In that case, Matthew reinterpreted Jesus' words, indicating that the corresponding sayings in the other gospels are a general statement by which Jesus did not intend to establish a new law on divorce.

To properly place the Matthean exception, it is necessary to study the law of Moses which the Pharisees refer to in their encounter with Jesus. The Old Testament law which talks about divorce by certificate is Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which states that if a man finds 'some indecency' (v. 1, RSV, NAU [New American Standard Bible]) in his wife, he may write her a bill of divorce and send her away. The divorced wife may marry another man but the first husband is not allowed to marry her again. In the opinion of Laney (1990:24), the purpose of this legislation 'was to discourage divorce among the Israelite people; since there was a good possibility of not being able to remarry one's former wife, the husband would not be so likely to put his wife away so hastily'. While it is not impossible for this law to discourage divorce for the reason stated by Laney, it is very clear that the Mosaic law indicates the regulations governing divorce some time in ancient Israel. As Edgar (1990:154) rightly points out, this law shows that a man might divorce his wife for indecency, and both the man and the divorced wife are free to marry anyone else. The reason for which a man may divorce his wife according to this law is termed in the King James Version (KJV) as some uncleanness. Other translations such as the RSV, NAU and NIV give the cause as some indecency. The Hebrew word they all attempt to translate is erwah [nakedness]. In the Old Testament, nakedness is often not tolerated outside proper sexual relationships, and when it occurs, the persons involved are accused of adultery (Allen 1980:695). For example, in Leviticus 18 and 20 to 'uncover nakedness' is used for sexual relationship between relatives, and is considered as adultery (Lv18:20; 20:10). Hence, the indecency in Deuteronomy 24:1 is better understood as adultery; in other words, in ancient Israel, a man might divorce and remarry for the reason of adultery.

Jesus' contemporary Jewish society must have understood this law in this sense. In the passage under discussion, the Pharisees ask Jesus the question on divorce 'in order to test him' (Mk 10:2; cf. Mt 19:3), which means that the Pharisees wanted to drag Jesus into the rabbinic debate on divorce (Keener 1993:96), possibly to know which of the views he supported. In Jesus' day, there were two schools of thought on the issue of divorce. The school of Shamai, said to be predominant at that time, argued that Deuteronomy 24:1-4 allowed divorce on account of adultery; it also did not consider remarriage after divorce as adulterous. The school of Hillel, on the other hand, said that a man could divorce his wife for any reason (Adams 1980:51; Edgar 1990:171; Keener 1993:96). Thus, Jewish traditions at the time of Jesus allowed a man, on grounds of adultery on the part of the wife, to divorce her and marry another. Therefore, as there are no indications that Jesus intended to establish a new law on divorce, his saying in Mark and Luke should be understood as a general statement in which the exception in Matthew is implied. Perhaps this is the perspective in which Matthew understood Jesus' statement, hence his inclusion of the exception. Edgar (1990:154) summarises this point succinctly, saying 'Mark 10:2-12 describes the same statement by Jesus as that quoted in Matthew 19:9; therefore, the additional details in Matthew 19:3-12 must be understood in Mark 10:2-12'.

Nevertheless, some argue that what the exception allows is not divorce but annulment of incestuous marriage, implying that porneia refers to an invalid marriage, specifically a marital union between blood relations. In that case, such a marriage is contrary to the prohibited relationships in Leviticus 18 and 20, and therefore an invalid marriage. The exception is thus 'not really an exception since it does not actually concern divorce but an annulment' (Edgar 1990:178). Laney (1990) is one of those who hold the incestuous marriage view. According to him:

In Matthew 19:9 Jesus is teaching 'no divorce', save the exceptional situation where marriage has taken place within the prohibited relationship of Leviticus 18:6-18. There is no question that Matthew addressed his gospel to a Jewish audience [for whom] the matter of porneia would be a problem of primary concern. This would account for the inclusion of the exception clause in Matthew, and its absence in Mark and Luke, which are addressed to Roman and Greek readers respectively. If porneia were to be interpreted broadly, there is no reason for Mark to have omitted the exception from Jesus' teaching on divorce. (p. 36)

Implicitly, this view is saying that Jesus gave the exception clause but in reference to incestuous marriage prohibited in Leviticus 18. Matthew included it because a ban on divorce would make meaning to his Jewish audience only in the context of the prohibition of incestuous marriage in Leviticus. Mark and Luke did not include the exception clause because it would have no relevance for their respective readers. However, this interpretation would further imply that the individual reports of the evangelists on the sayings of Jesus were determined by the intended audience irrespective of the original words of the speaker. But this view would have a repudiating effect on the gospels as we can no longer be sure of the actual teachings of Jesus. It appears more logical, as discussed earlier, to regard the accounts in Mark and Luke as the general statement of Jesus on divorce, in which the exception in Matthew is implied.

However, the issue at stake has to do with the word porneia as used in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. Adams (1980:54) says porneia refers to sexual sin of all sorts, while according to Edgar (1990:162), the Greek porneia 'has the meaning of "illicit sex", and can refer to illicit sex in general or, in a given context, to some specific immorality'. Richards (1990) also affirms that in later Jewish rabbinic language, the word zenut (porneia) included:

Not only prostitution and any kind of extra-marital sexual intercourse but also all marriages between relatives forbidden by rabbinic law; incest and all kinds of unnatural sexual intercourse were viewed as fornication (porneia). (p. 230)

That porneia is capable of omnibus use is further expressed by Adams (1980:54) when he says that in the Bible, apart from sexual sin in general, porneia is also used to describe cases of incest (1 Cor 5:1), homosexuality (Jud 7) and even adultery (Jr 3:1, 2, 6, 8).1

Porneia then refers to any act of sexual intercourse outside proper marriage. While incestuous marriage as prohibited in Leviticus may conform to the term porneia, 'there is insufficient evidence to establish that porneia was ever used to refer to an incestuous marriage' (Edgar 1990:181). There is also no evidence that the reference in the exception clause is to incestuous marriage. Rather, in the passage under discussion, the Pharisees make reference to a specific law of Moses that commands one to give a bill of divorce (Mt 19:7), which is a clear reference to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, as mentioned earlier. As Edgar (1990:178) plausibly states, 'If the exception is the case of incestuous marriage, it is odd that there is no reference to the Old Testament passage which describes the alleged exception'. No doubt, Matthew's audience would have understood porneia in its general meaning of illicit sex outside proper marriage.

So far we have discovered that as the Jewish society of Jesus' day had the custom of divorce and remarriage, the exception clause in Matthew is implicit in Mark and Luke. Therefore, there is no reason to doubt that the exception is also implied in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Edgar (1990:188) buttresses this fact when he says that in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11:

Paul definitely states that the position on divorce and remarriage was given by Jesus [T]he exception must be understood in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, just as it must be understood in Mark 10:2-12. (Edgar 1990, 188)

Paul does not have to state the exception here because it is irrelevant in the context of the discussion, namely one in which one partner has made up her mind to divorce in order to practice celibacy. Hence, this text does not negate the fact that a Christian spouse may divorce and remarry because of fornication on the part of the other.

As a matter of fact, rather than forbid divorce and remarriage, it can be deduced from 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 that Paul would support divorce and remarriage even for reasons other than sexual immorality. In the first place, the statement that if the woman divorces she should remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband (v. 11) 'necessarily applies to one who divorced for reasons other than the exception, otherwise, as it is clear from Matthew 19:9, they are allowed to [re] marry' (Edgar 1990:189). In other words, the matter would not have come up at all if the reason for which the woman wanted to leave concerned porneia. Furthermore, Paul does not state what is expected of the deserted spouse in an event that she leaves indefinitely. Should he remain unmarried or is he allowed to remarry? Paul does not answer this question here but his statements in respect of mixed marriages in verses 12-16 are instructive. In verse 15, Paul says that if the unbeliever wants to divorce, the believer is oudedoulotai ('not bound' [or] 'not enslaved'). There are those who assert that oudedoulotai does not permit the deserted believer to remarry. In the opinion of Laney (1990:43), for example, the text does not support remarriage for several reasons. Firstly, Paul is not likely to permit in verse 15 what is forbidden in 10-13, as according to Paul, there is no difference between a marriage between Christians and a mixed marriage. Secondly, Paul recognises the possibility of unapproved divorce among Christians, but in Jesus' command remarriage to another person was not allowed (vv. 10-11). Thus, going by his second reason, Laney does not accept that the exception clause in Matthew is implied in the command of Jesus which Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. He therefore concludes that 'not bound' in 1 Corinthians 7:15 only means that the Christian partner may permit the divorcing partner to leave but the former is not permitted to marry another person. Similarly, Baumert (1996:61) states that in verse 15, the Christian is being instructed to 'go along with the separation and give their consent without having bad conscience'. For Baumert, 'not bound' means that the Corinthians should not see Paul's counsel as an enslaving law but feel free to use it according to their own discretion.

Nevertheless, it seems that there is overwhelming evidence that 1 Corinthians 7:15 permits remarriage. Contrary to the view that 'not bound' can only mean 'not bound to stay with' as implied by Laney and Baumert, Keener (1993:467) explains that the phrase 'not bound' 'alludes to the wording of Jewish divorce documents which told the woman "You are free to marry any man."' In that case, it is correct to say that 'not bound' in verse 15 means that, 'all the bonds of marriage are removed; [the deserted believer] is released entirely from every marriage obligation, and is a totally free person' (Adams 1980:48). As Richards (1990:239) puts it, in this place, 'Paul says that the abandoned spouse is "not bound" by the marriage vow, implying that he/she is now "unmarried" and thus free to marry'. Moreover, the idea that 'not bound' means only 'not bound to stay with' is illogical because 'If the unbeliever leaves, the believer can hardly have any choice in the matter' (Edgar 1990:190); in other words, the Christian cannot prevent the divorce. The abandoned partner is now divorced, unmarried and not bound (i.e. free), a situation in which many believe Paul cannot but mean that the deserted partner is free to remarry. Edgar is therefore right when he concludes on this verse that 'it is most probable that Paul allows not only divorce but subsequent remarriage in the case of desertion by an unbeliever' (Edgar 1990:190).

This implies that the believer who is deserted by an unbeliever in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 and the one abandoned by a fellow Christian in verses 10-11 have something in common, namely they are both agamos. If the one divorced by a non-Christian is free to remarry, there is no reason why the one deserted by a fellow Christian is not free to remarry. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 does not only allow a Christian to divorce on grounds of adultery but also permits a Christian deserted by his or her partner to remarry. As expressed by Edgar (1990):

Although it is not definitely stated that desertion by a believer likewise allows for divorce and remarriage for the deserted spouse, according to 1 Corinthians 7:10-14, there is no substantial difference between the validity of a mixed marriage and the marriage of two believers. Therefore, although not specifically stated, desertion even by a believer may be grounds for divorce and remarriage. (p. 191)

However, some interpret 1 Corinthians 7:39, which states that a 'wife' is bound to her husband until he dies, to support the argument against divorce and remarriage. For example, consistent with his view that verse 15 does not allow remarriage, Laney (1990:44) maintains that in verse 39, Paul describes the marriage commitment as 'binding until death'. But if one is aware that the Greek word gune is used for both 'woman' and 'wife', one is able to read verse 39 as continuing from verse 25 where the discussion on the betrothed begins. In that case, gune in verse 39 refers to an engaged woman, and not to the married. This point is clear from verse 27 where gune definitely refers to 'woman' in a betrothed status. Verse 27 already indicates that the engagement is legally binding; hence, in verse 39, Paul means that the engaged woman is free either to consummate the marriage or remain in a celibate relationship with her fiancé. 'Paul is of the opinion that this form of celibacy is only obligatory for the fiancée as long as this man lives. For a widow this would be clear; for an engaged woman, however, who had chosen the path of celibacy, this remained a real question' (Baumert 1996:128). This means that verse 39 is not relevant for the issue of divorce and remarriage of married persons. Hence, Keener (1993) is right to state that:

those who hold that this verse excludes remarriage of divorced persons ignore not only 7:15, 27-28, but also the language of antiquity [by which] no one considered her former spouse as 'her husband' after a legitimate divorce had taken place. (p. 469)

Thus, when 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 is properly understood in its specific original social context, it does not prohibit divorce and remarriage. The traditional approach which led to the creed of marriage 'for better, for worse, until death do us part' must have arisen from the erroneous generalisation of the text for all times and all marriages. Hence, in the following section, we shall examine how our new understanding of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 should impact on the attitude of the Church and Christians towards divorce and remarriage in the context of IPV in Nigeria.


Implications for the intimate partner violence context in Nigeria

As seen earlier, conditioned by the traditional interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 of prohibition of divorce and remarriage, abused spouses have always been encouraged to remain in their marriages in order not to contravene the word of God. The highest point the church could reach is to advise spouses to live separately, but sometimes this is performed only when lives have been lost to domestic violence. However, from our examination of the text in its specific context, we have discovered that 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 permits a Christian to divorce and remarry on grounds of sexual immorality, and a deserted spouse to remarry. In Nigeria, sexual immorality, especially on the part of the husband, is frequently a form of IPV.2 Usually, the man starts by entering into an extra-marital love affair; he begins to come home late or spending some nights out of the matrimonial home. In this way, he is combining the activity with desertion, which often comes along with the denial of conjugal and economic rights of his partner. This happens when the man begins to spend his resources on the new-found love. The wife and the children become destitute if he is the sole breadwinner of the family. It is important to note, however, that sometimes a man's extra-marital affair is caused by his wife's behaviour. Attitudes of a woman that often lead to this include disobedience, non-submission, nagging, denial of conjugal rights and laziness in performing her house duties, among others. These traits may induce the husband to begin to avoid his home, seeking peace elsewhere. Moreover, some married women also indulge in extra-marital affairs. Sometimes, a woman falls into it if the temptation comes from a man who is wealthier than her husband. There are many cases of women who have left their husbands for richer men; more often than not, before they left, they had an illicit love affair with the new man. In view of the new interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, in cases like these, the innocent party is free to divorce and remarry. Abandonment or desertion of wife is a frequently occurring form of domestic violence towards women today (Kunhiyop 2008:244). It takes several forms but generally involves 'men going away from home and leaving the children and mother without any support' (Nwakwo 2008:4; Osisiogu 2016:380). Stories abound in Nigeria of men who, after marriage in Nigeria, find their way out of the country and break contact with their wives completely. In this type of situation, the woman suffers psychological trauma in addition to the effects of desertion mentioned above. As mentioned above, our interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 permits the deserted Christian to remarry.

It is noteworthy, however, that in the context of IPV in Nigeria, there are marital problems that are worse than adultery and desertion. As seen in the section on IPV, there are conditions which do not only amount to threat to life but do actually take lives. In cases where domestic violence takes the form of threat to life, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 does not tell us what to do, but deductions can be made from the chapter. According to Jewish custom, the only reason for which one could divorce and remarry is sexual immorality, but in verse 11, Paul is faced with the case of a spouse ready to divorce her partner in order to practice celibacy. This is a new situation and therefore demands a new response, namely the woman must remain unmarried or return to her husband. Similarly, concerning mixed marriages (vv. 12-16) and engaged persons (vv. 25-40), Paul says he has no command of the Lord; that is, again, he meets situations on which he has no leading of scripture, and has to allow the reality of the new situation to determine the response. In the case of a mixed marriage, for example, he sees no reason for the Christian to divorce his non-Christian spouse, but if the non-Christian decides to leave, the Christian is at liberty to marry another person. Thus, in cases such as constant wife battery, acid bath and other forms that constitute threat to life, where the church and the affected Christians do not have the leading of scripture, they should allow the reality of the situation to determine the appropriate response. When there is threat to life, one would think that the appropriate response from the church should be to dispense with marriage in order to save life; that is, divorce should be recommended.


Conclusion and recommendation

The menace of IPV has been on the increase in Nigeria as in many parts of the world. Christians who suffer IPV remain in their marriages for several reasons but perhaps the strongest of such reasons is the doctrine that the Bible forbids divorce. One of the passages quoted in support of this teaching is 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Hence, this work examined this text in its original social context as it relates to divorce and remarriage. The research found that when understood in its specific context, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 permits divorce and remarriage because of sexual immorality, and allows a spouse deserted by another to remarry. Therefore, wherever IPV takes these forms, the innocent party is allowed to divorce and remarry. For other forms of domestic violence, it can be deduced from the text that the church and the affected Christians should allow the specific situation to determine the appropriate response. For example, when IPV poses threat to life, divorce should be advised, and the spouses are allowed to remarry if they so desire. However, Christians must understand that in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul's ultimate aim is to protect marriage as a permanent institution; hence, wherever this ideal cannot be achieved and divorce has to take place, 'we [should] still remain open to and even seek reconciliation' (Richards 1990:242).



Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Authors' contributions

S.O.A. is the sole author of this article.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.



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Folayan, M.O., Odetoyinbo, M., Harrison, A. & Brown, B., 2014, 'Rape in Nigeria: A silent epidemic among adolescents with implications for HIV infection', Global Health Action 7(2014), viewed 15 January 2017, from         [ Links ]

Fowowe, P., 2015, 'My Pastor beats his wife how can I help?' The Cable, 03 August, viewed 15 July 2018, from         [ Links ]

France, R.T., 1994, 'Matthew', in D.A. Carson, G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer & R.T. France (eds.), New Bible commentary, pp. 904-945, IVP, Nottingham, IL.         [ Links ]

Grady, J.L., 2001, 'Control freaks, and the women who love them', New Man, January/February, viewed 13 July 2018, from         [ Links ]

Guti, E., 2016, Wise woman, EGEA, Harare.         [ Links ]

Hart, B., 2016, 'Shame of Nigeria - Statistics of violence against women',, viewed 05 January 2018, from         [ Links ]

Keener, C.S., 1993, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament, IVP, Nottingham, IL.         [ Links ]

Hasstedt, K. & Rowan, A., 2016, 'Understanding intimate partner violence as a sexual and reproductive health and rights issue in the United States', GPR 19, 37-45, viewed 02 December 2017, from         [ Links ]

Kunhiyop, S.W., 2008, African Christian ethics, WordAlive, Nairobi.         [ Links ]

Heth, W.A., 1990, 'Divorce, but no remarriage', in W.H. House (ed.), Divorce and remarriage: Four Christian views, pp. 73-129, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.         [ Links ]

Igbelina-Igbokwe, N., 2013, 'Contextualizing gender based violence within patriarchy in Nigeria', Pambzuka News: Voices for Freedom and Justice (2013), 1-12, viewed 28 January 2018, from         [ Links ]

Johnson, D., 2018, 'Churches asked to check divorce rates', Vanguard, 04 February, viewed 13 July 2018, from         [ Links ]

Kirk-Dugan, C., 2012, 'Precious memories: Rule of law in Deuteronomy as catalyst for domestic violence', in A. Brenner & G.A. Yee (eds.), Exodus and Deuteronomy, pp. 258-288, Fortress, Minneapolis, MN.         [ Links ]

Laney, C.J., 1990, 'No divorce and no remarriage', in W.H. House (ed.), Divorce and remarriage: Four Christian views, pp. 15-54, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.         [ Links ]

Maluleke, T.S. & Nadar, S., 2002, 'Breaking the covenant of violence against women', Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 114, 5-17.         [ Links ]

Mate, R., 2002, 'Wombs as God's laboratories: Pentecostal discourses of feminity in Zimbabwe', Africa 72, 549-560.        [ Links ]

Moore, T., 2017, 'Why it's hard to get a divorce in Catholic Church', City People, 11 May, viewed 13 July 2018, from         [ Links ]

Nwakwo, O., 2008, 'Effectiveness of legislation enacted to address violence against women in Nigeria', paper presented at expert group meeting on good practices in legislation on violence against women, United Nations Office, Vienna, Austria, 26th-28th May 2008, pp. 1-49.         [ Links ]

Okenwa, L., Lawoko, S. & Jansson, B., 2009, 'Factors associated with disclosure of intimate partner violence among women in Lagos, Nigeria', Injury and Violence 1(1), 37-47.        [ Links ]

Okorie, A.M., 2001, 'Divorce and remarriage: An exegetical analysis of 1 Corinthians 7:10-16', African Journal of Biblical Studies XVI(I), 68-81.         [ Links ]

Okorie, A.M., 2003, 'Biblical studies and women issues: Marriage', in S.O. Abogunrin (ed.), Biblical studies and women issues in Africa, pp. 68-81, Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies, Ibadan.         [ Links ]

Omowole, S.O., 2006, 'Marriage and divorce: The New Testament view', in S.O. Abogunrin (ed.), Biblical view of sex and sexuality from African perspective, pp. 126-137, Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies, Ibadan.         [ Links ]

Ose, A.N., 2009, 'Prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria: Implications for counseling', Edo Journal of Counselling 2(1), viewed 02 January 2018, from         [ Links ]

Osisiogu, U., 2016, 'Physical abuse of women in the home: A Nigerian perspective', Humanities and Social Sciences Review 5(3), 379-394.         [ Links ]

Partab, R., 2011, 'Why do violent men do what they do?: Dialoguing on privileges of patriarchy and domestic violence', Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa 17(1), 96-113.         [ Links ]

Phiri, I.A., 2002, 'Why does God allow our husbands to hurt us? Overcoming violence against women', Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 114, 9-30.         [ Links ]

Richards, L., 1990, 'Divorce and remarriage under a variety of circumstances', in W.H. House (ed.), Divorce and remarriage: Four Christian views, pp. 215-248, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.         [ Links ]

The Redeemed Christian Church of God, 2010, Solemnization between Oluwatobilola Adeola and Ayodeji Paul, RCCG, Sagamu, Nigeria.         [ Links ]

United Missionary Church of Africa, 2013, Solemnization between Saint Malik and Kehinde Goodness Hope, UMCA, Lokoja, Nigeria.         [ Links ]

Winter, B., 1994, '1 Corinthians', in D.A. Carson et al. (eds.), New Bible commentary, pp. 1161-1187, IVP, Nottingham.         [ Links ]

Woman.NG, 2017, 20 Women share their stories of sexual abuse in church, viewed 15 July 2018, from         [ Links ]



Solomon Ademiluka

Received: 21 Aug. 2018
Accepted: 25 Apr. 2019
Published: 30 Sept. 2019



1 . According to Adams, porneia and moichao [adultery] occur jointly in Sirach 22:22, 23 where an unfaithful wife 'has committed adultery by fornication', which means that by engaging in sexual sin, she violated her covenant commitment to her husband (Adams 1980:54).
2 . We have to state right away that with the stories of domestic violence perpetrated by Christian leaders and pastors as related in the section on IPV in Nigeria, it becomes clear that the religion has very little control over people's character, especially when the issues relate to marriage. Hence, the discussion below pertains to men and women who profess the Christian religion.

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Die Paasfeesviering van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane in die eerste drie eeue van die Christendom


The celebration of the Passover of the Enoochite Quatradecimans during the first three centuries of Christianity



Wilhelm Pretorius; Johan M. van der Merwe

Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa





Development concerning the determination of Passover or Pascha's annual date took place during the first three centuries of Christianity. This led to a controversy in the mid-second century AD which became known as the Quartadecima Controversy. The date and duration of the Passover were the main issues. During the controversy two main streams emerged, namely the Quartadecimans and Anti-Quartadecimans. The Quartadecimans celebrated the 14th of the first month annually as the commencement date of the Passover. The Anti-Quartadecimans set the first or second weekend after the 14th of the first month annually as the Passover celebration date. In spite of the two main streams, commonly accepted by modern-day researchers, various variations developed within these two main streams. These variations have not been discerned and analysed in modern-day research. One of these variations, namely the Enochite Quatradecimans is the subject of this article. They are being portrayed as a unique and discernable variation within the Quartadeciman main stream.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article connects the research fields of New Testament and Church History in trying to understand how and when the Passover was celebrated during the first three centuries of Christianity.

Keywords: Passover; Quartadecimans; Quartadecima Controversy; Enochites, Christianity; first three centuries.




In die eerste eeu ná die evangeliese tyd tot ongeveer die helfte van die 2de eeu n.C., het Christene elkeen in eie gemeentes voortgegaan om 'n tradisie uit te leef ten opsigte van die tyd en wyse waarop hulle die Paasfees gevier het. Dit sluit die bepaling in van die Paasfees se begin, asook die duur van die fees. Die stelselmatige erkenning en bewuswording van die verskille het aanleiding gegee tot die ontwikkeling van 'n vraagstuk, genaamd die Quartadecima-vraagstuk. Quartadecima is 'n Latynse term wat vertaal kan word as: 14de, na aanleiding van die 14de Abib wat in die Ou Testament as begindatum van die Paasfees verorden is.1 Die twee strome wat algemeen in hierdie vraagstuk erken word, is die Quartadecimane en Anti-Quartadecimane. Eersgenoemde het die Paasfees jaarliks op 14 Abib begin vier en laasgenoemde op die Vrydag direk voor die eerste (of sommige die tweede) Sondag ná 14 Abib. Die Quartadecima-vraagstuk het in drie fases afgespeel tot aan die einde van die 2de eeu n.C. Tog het die kontroversie nie heeltemal verdwyn nie sodat verskeie kerkvaders gedurende die 3de eeu n.C. steeds hierdie onderwerp besoek het en daaroor 'n eie opinie gevorm en op ander skrywes gereageer het.

In die navorser se proefskrif is gevind dat te midde van die twee strome, naamlik die Quartadecimane en Anti-Quartadecimane, daar verskeie variasies ontwikkel het waarin elkeen die Paasfees op 'n unieke wyse met eiesoortige kalendriese bepalings rakende die Paasfees gevier het.

In hierdie artikel word gefokus op een van hierdie variasies, naamlik die Henogitiese Quartadecimane. Die doel van die artikel is dus om die Henogitiese Quartadecimane te identifiseer en te ontleed soos wat hulle in die eerste drie eeue van die Christendom voorgekom het.

Etiese oorwegings

Hierdie artikel volg alle etiese standaarde vir navorsing sonder direkte kontak met mens of dier.

Begrondingsbasis van die variante Paasfeesgebruike

Die onderskeie variasies van Paasfeesgebruike het eerstens van mekaar verskil op grond van hulle etiologiese en mimetiese begrondinge. Etiologiese begronding beteken dat hulle die Paasfees op 'n spesifieke wyse liturgies vertolk het deur middel van liturgiese handelinge in navolging van hoe dit in hulle bron, waarop hulle dit begrond, liturgies nagevolg en uiteengesit is. Hulle vier byvoorbeeld die Pasga op 14 Abib omdat dit volgens Eksodus se beskrywing op daardie dag moet begin. Dit is dus etiologiese begronding op die wet.

Mimetiese begronding behels die liturgiese handelinge wat begrond is op 'n historiese narratief, gebeurlikheid, metafisiese of abstrakte onderwerp sodat dit in die liturgiese handeling vertolk en herdenk word. Die Sondagviering is dus mimeties op die opstanding van Jesus begrond as herdenking en uitdrukking van die opstandingnarratief.

Daar was twee basisse waarop die Paasfeesviering binne hierdie drie eeue n.C. etiologies en mimeties begrond is, naamlik die Ou Testament en die Nuwe Testament. In die Ou Testament is dit grootliks op die wet begrond. In die Nuwe Testament is dit hoofsaaklik op die kruisiginggebeure begrond.

Midde die kruisiginggebeure was daar vier begrondingselemente, naamlik:

  • Die Pasgamaal van Jesus en sy dissipels.2

  • Jesus se kruisiging op die tyd wat die Pasgalam geslag is.3

  • Die Pasga wat ná Jesus se kruisiging plaasgevind het.4

  • Die opstanding van Jesus op die eerste dag van die week.5

Variante vierings van die Paasfees het in die eerste drie eeue ontstaan na aanleiding van 'n variant se begronding en die klem wat op een van hierdie vier begrondingselemente geplaas is, op die tydsintervalle wat tussen die elemente voorgekom het en hoe die variant die element liturgies vertolk het (Stewart-Sykes 1998:154-155).

Henogitiese Quartadecimane se liturgiese begronding

Die stroom wat behandel gaan word, is die Quartadecimane. Die gemeenskaplike eienskappe wat die Quartadecimane gedeel het, was dat hulle die Paasfees jaarliks op 14 Abib begin vier het (Rudolph 2004:1). In hierdie artikel is die Henogitiese Quartadecimane die groep waarna gekyk gaan word wat as variant binne die Quartadecimane bestaan het.

Die Henogitiese Quartadecimane het eerstens hulle Paasfeesviering hoofsaaklik etiologies op die Ou Testamentiese geskrifte begrond. Dit behels geskrifte wat vandag as kanonieke sowel as nie-kanonieke beskou word. Tweedens op die wyse waarop Jesus die Paasfees gevier het, soos in die kruisigingsgebeure beskryf is. Hulle het dit wel ook mimeties op die kruisigingsgebeure begrond, maar dit wil voorkom of dit nie so belangrik was soos die etiologiese begronding nie (Richardson 1973:80; Stewart-Sykes 1998:152).

Henogitiese Quartadecimane se etiologiese begronding op die Ou Testament

In die Ou Testament word die Paasfees op 14 Abib bepaal.6 Dit word as 'n bepaalde tyd (מועד) beskou, wat 'n feestelike karakter het as 'n heilige en gewyde fees (Levine 1989: Lv. 23:4; Strong 1997:3259; Swanson 1997:4595). Die lam moet teen die aand (ad vesperem) van 14 Abib geslag word7 en daarna tydens die aand van 14 Abib geëet word.8 Ná die Pasga-aand volg die Fees van die Ongesuurde Brode. Die fees het vir 7 dae van 15 tot 21 Abib geduur, waartydens ongesuurde brode geëet is.9 Die eerste en sewende dag van die Fees van die Ongesuurde Brode was gewyde dae, wat die karakter van 'n Sabbat veronderstel.10 Die Pasga-aand en die Fees van die Ongesuurde Brode was twee onderskeie feeste wat deel gevorm het van die Agtdaagse Fees, wat ook die Paasfees, Pasga of Fees van die Ongesuurde Brode genoem word.11

In die tydperk van die Hasmoniese dinastie tot en met die vernietiging van die tempel in 70 n.C. het daar twee prominente strome in Judaïsme ontwikkel, naamlik die Henogitiese en die Hasmonitiese strome (Boccaccini 1998:113, 129-130; Pretorius 2006:272-294, 2008:34-38). Een van die belangrikste verskille tussen die twee groepe is die kalenders wat hulle gebruik het (Baumgarten 1995:31 e.v.; Glessmer 1999:221; Stemberger 1991; Talmon [1951] 1989:147-149; Talmon, Ben-Dov & Glessmer 2001:xi). Die Hasmonitiese Judaïsme, verteenwoordig deur die Fariseërs en Sadduseërs, het die Babiloniese son-maankalender gevolg. Hierdie kalender was ingedeel van aand tot aand, die maande het uit onderskeidelik 29 en 30 dae bestaan en die jaar uit 354 dae. Die jaar was ongeveer 11 dae korter as die sonjaar sodat ongeveer elke derde jaar 'n interkalasie- of ekstra maand ingevoeg is ten einde hulle kalender in sinkronisasie met die sonkalender te bring.12

Teenoor die Hasmonitiese Judaïste, het die Henogitiese Judaïsme 'n sonkalender gevolg soos wat in die Qumrantekste gesien kan word. Die tekste wat in die besonder van belang is om die Henogitiese kalender te verstaan, is die geskrif van Jobeil, die onderskeie kalendertekste in Qumran13 en die geskrifte van Henog (Talmon [1951] 1989:157, 163-164). Uit hierdie tekste kan 'n jaarindeling afgelei word wat uit 364 dae per jaar bestaan en deur sewe deelbaar is om presies 52 weke uit te maak. Die maande bestaan uit 30 dae elk, wanneer daar 'n ekstra dag aan die einde van die 3de, 6de, 9de en 12de maand gevoeg word sodat dié maande uit 31 dae bestaan. Die kalender is suiwer wiskundig op grond van die son bepaal sodat die maan geen rol gespeel het nie. Die weke is aaneenlopend en die dagindeling strek van oggend tot oggend, gekombineerd met 'n liturgiese kalender wat binne die oggend-tot-oggend-dagindeling van aand tot aand strek. Vanweë die feit dat die weke presies deur die jaar deelbaar is, het dit veroorsaak dat die feeste elke jaar nie net op dieselfde kalenderdag geval het nie, maar ook op dieselfde weeksdag. Dit het die karakter van die Paasfees se aard as 'bepaalde tyd' nog meer 'bepaald' gemaak.14 Die Paasfees het elke jaar op 14 Abib begin, wat elke jaar op die tweede dag van die week (Dinsdag) geval het en liturgies teen die aand begin het.15

Die belangrikste eienskap van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane is dat hulle kalender vas bepaal is en dat hulle Paasfeesviering 'n vaste patroon vorm. Die rede hiervoor is dat hulle die Henogkalender volg wat nie net jaarliks op 14 Abib val nie, maar ook jaarliks op dieselfde weeksdag, naamlik die derde weeksdag (Dinsdag), val.

Henogitiese Quartadecimane se begronding op die Pasgamaaltyd van Christus

Die tweede etiologiese begronding van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane was op die Pasgaviering van Jesus en sy dissipels die aand vóór sy kruisiging. Hulle het die tradisie gehandhaaf dat Jesus ook die Pasga op hierdie wyse gevier het, in teenstelling met die Pasga wat die Hasmonitiese Judaïsme die aand ná die kruisiging gevier het (Jaubert 1957:89-90; Saulnier 2012:33-36).

Daar bestaan verskeie hipoteses aangaande die bepaling van die kruisiginggebeure se kronologie (Hoehner 1974: 'The Friday crucifixion'). Twee van hierdie hipoteses sluit die viering van Jesus se Pasgamaal in en bepaal dit volgens die Henogitiese kalender as Dinsdagaand. Hierdie twee hipoteses is die hipotese van die twee Pasgas en die een van die verlengde lyding (Jaubert 1957:89-90; Saulnier 2012:33-36). Beide hipoteses bepaal dat Jesus en sy dissipels die Pasga op 14 Abib ooreenkomstig die Henogitiese kalender genuttig het. Waar die twee hipoteses van mekaar verskil, is oor wanneer die kruisiging plaasgevind het en daarom ook op watter weeksdag die tweede Pasga val wat die aand ná die kruisiging van Jesus aangebreek het (Jaubert 1957:116-118; Saulnier 2012:39-41). Dit sou dan die Pasga-aand wees van die Hasmonitiese Judaïsme, soos verteenwoordig is deur die Sadduseërs en veral die Fariseërs.16 Die verskil lê daarin dat Jesus se kruisiging volgens die hipotese van die twee Pasgas op die Woensdag plaasgevind het, die dag ná die Pasgamaal. Die kruisiging volgens die hipotese van die verlengde lyding het eers die Vrydag plaasgevind (Jaubert 1957:13-75, 108-133; Saulnier 2012:19-33, 37-44). Die hipotese van die twee Pasgas is deur die navorser ontwikkel in sy doktorale proefskrif. Dit is gebaseer op die vier kanonieke evangelies se kronologie van die kruisiginggebeure sowel as die Evangelie volgens Petrus.

Die probleem met beide hipoteses is dat tyd in die teks ingelees word, sonder dat dit in die teks beskryf word. Volgens die hipotese van die twee Pasgas het die tyd wat Jesus in die graf was, nie net, soos in die tradisionele hipotese, van die Vrydag tot Sondagoggend geduur nie (Hoehner 1974: 'The Friday crucifixion'), maar van Woensdagaand af. Volgens die hipotese van die verlengde lyding is Jesus nie op dieselfde dag gekruisig as wat Hy gevange geneem is nie, maar is Hy die Woensdagoggend gevange geneem en het Hy tot Donderdagoggend onder gesag van die Sanhedrin in aanhouding gebly. Donderdagoggend is Hy na Pilatus geneem, waar Hy, behalwe toe hulle Hom na Herodes gebring het, tot Vrydagoggend in aanhouding gebly het. Vrydagoggend is Hy gekruisig (Jaubert 1957:116-118; Saulnier 2012:39-41). Terwyl die gebeure beskryf word in die kanonieke evangelies, verswyg die evangelies die tydmerkers om dagskeidings tussen hierdie gebeure te beskryf (Jaubert 1957:116; Saulnier 2012:40).

Die navolging van die tradisie om die twee Pasgas te onderskei van Paasfeesviering sou afhanklik wees van een van hierdie twee hipoteses wat hulle sou kies. Die verskil wat in die hipoteses voorkom, waar beide die Henogitiese Quartadecimane behandel, sou dus nie wees wanneer die Pasga begin nie, maar waar Christus se kruisiging inpas in die Paasfees. Beide is dit eens dat Jesus die Sondag opgestaan het (Saulnier 2012:31). Omdat die Henogitiese Quartadecimane waarskynlik die Ou Testamentiese Agtdaagse Paasfees gevier het, sou hulle fees op Dinsdag 14 Abib begin en op Woensdag 21 Abib eindig. Die bepaling van die dag van Jesus se kruisiging, hetsy op Woensdag of Vrydag, sou slegs mimetiese invloed op die inhoud van hulle fees gehad het, maar nie die etiologiese basis beïnvloed nie.


Eliminasie deur wat die Henogitiese Quartadecimane nié was nie

Hierna sal voorbeelde aangetoon word wat moontlik kan dui op die gebruik of vergestalting van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane. Ook word aangetoon dat daar nie direkte en konkrete uiteensetting of sistematiese uiteengesette Paasfeesbepalings van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane bestaan nie. Een van die belangrikste wyses om hulle gebruik te identifiseer is grootliks gegrond op eliminasie.

Een belangrike eienskap van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane is dat hulle twee Pasgas tydens die kruisiginggebeure erken. Hulle handhaaf juis die Henogitiese Pasga in opposisie van die Hasmonitiese Pasga. Die Henogitiese Pasga was dié wat Jesus en sy dissipels genuttig het. Die Hasmonitiese Pasga was die Pasga van die Jode of 'hulle Pasga' wat ná die kruisiging aangebreek het (Jaubert 1957:13-75, 108-133; Saulnier 2012:19-33, 37-44). Dit is dus in konflik met die Sinoptiese Quartadecimane, wat slegs die ete van Jesus as die Pasga erken het, of die Johannese Quartadecimane, of die Anti-Quartadecimane, wat slegs die Pasga ná die kruisiging as Pasga tydens die kruisiginggebeure erken het (Perler 1966:182; Richardson 1973:80; Stewart-Sykes 1998:154; Strobel 1977:19-22). Die Henogitiese Quartadecimane bepaal ook nie ooreenkomstig die Hasmonitiese of Lunêre Quartadecimane wat 14 Abib volgens die son-maankalender, dus die Rabbynse kalender, bepaal het nie.17

Omdat die Henogitiese Quartadecimane die Hasmonitiese Pasga tydens die kruisiginggebeure erken het, was Jesus ook simbolies die Pasgalam, maar nie dieselfde klem is daarop gelê as deur die Johannese Quartadecimane of Anti-Quartadecimane nie. Hulle het waarskynlik saam met die Sinoptiese Quartadecimane gestem oor die etiologiese begronding van die Paasfees op die Pasgamaal van Jesus.18 Hulle het wel verskil in dié opsig dat hulle twee Pasgas erken het tydens die kruisiginggebeure en nie slegs een soos die Sinoptiese Quartadecimane nie (Stewart-Sykes 1998:154). Hulle kon ook verskil het rakende die kalender wat gebruik is om 14 Abib te bepaal, aangesien die Sinoptiese Quartadecimane nie noodwendig die Henogitiese of sonkalender gebruik het nie.


Die Petrus-evangelie: eerste spoor van Henogitiese Quartadecimane

Eerste spoor van kruisiging vóór Vrydag

Die eerste tradisie wat die kruisiging vóór Vrydag plaas, is die Evangelie volgens Petrus. Die rede waarom dit van belang is, is dat dit wys op 'n tradisie wat die Pasga van Jesus vóór Donderdag plaas, soos dit in die tradisionele hipotese rakende die kruisigingsgebeure voorkom. Dit pas daarom nie in by die hipotese van die verlengde lyding nie, maar slegs by dié van die twee Pasgas of alternatiewe hipotese. Alhoewel die teks nie die Henogkalender weergee nie, ook nie die Pasgamaal op die Dinsdag plaas of 'n spesifieke kalender aanbied nie, is dit 'n alternatiewe tradisie wat die kruisiging vóór Vrydag plaas.

Agtergrond van die teks

In die teks self identifiseer die skrywer hom as Petrus, die dissipel van Jesus (Ehrman 2005:31; Van der Watt & Tolmie 2005:447-478). Rakende die datering van hierdie evangelie, bestaan daar twee groepe opinies en hipoteses. Die een groep verklaar dit 'n baie ou tradisie wat selfs nog vroeër as die kanonieke evangelies of dieselfde tyd as die sinoptiese evangelies kan wees. Die ander verklaar dit 'n teks van die 2de eeu n.C. wat, nadat die outeur die kanonieke evangelies herhaaldelik gehoor het, uniek ontwikkel het. Indien hierdie teks die Evangelie volgens Petrus is, moes dit reeds van die einde van die eerste eeu bestaan het, aangesien Serapion, biskop van Antiochië, daarna verwys het (Gerlach 1998:191; Van der Watt & Tolmie 2005:478-479).

Die teks begin eers ná die maaltyd van Jesus en dit is daarom nie moontlik om te bepaal wat die outeur se siening oor die status van Jesus se ete was of wanneer dit plaasgevind het nie. Die outeur sluit wel aan by die kronologie van Johannes in die direkte uiteensetting van die Pasga wat plaasvind ná Jesus se kruisiging (Gerlach 1998:191-192; Stewart-Sykes 1998:26).

In die teks gaan vra Josef (van Arimathea) Jesus se liggaam van Pilatus en Pilatus vra dit op sy beurt van Herodes. Herodes antwoord dat hy dit sou gee omdat dit nie op 'n Sabbat mag bly hang nie. Die volgende dag sou dus 'n Sabbat wees. Dit word ook deur die skrywer self gestel dat Jesus oorgelewer is aan die Jode 'voor die eerste dag van die Ongesuurde Brode'. Die verwysing na 'hulle fees' (Beckwith 2001:294-295; Elliot 2007:154; Ehrman 2005:32; Van der Watt & Tolmie 2005:480) kan moontlik dui dat die outeur twee Pasgas erken het, terwyl die Hasmonitiese Pasga ná die kruisiging aangebreek het.

Die Sabbat sou hier na die weeklikse Sabbat kon verwys. Dit is egter vers 27 wat 'n ander vertolking as weeklikse Sabbat vereis. Nadat Jesus oorgegee is, is Hy gekruisig. Hierop volg die kruisigingbeskrywings totdat Hy om ongeveer drieuur die middag sterf (Leonhard 2006:228; Stewart-Sykes 1998:125). In hierdie tyd word nie verdere inligting rakende die kalendriese aspek gegee nie, behalwe die tyd van kruisiging. Ná Jesus se begrafnis beskryf die evangelieskrywer dat die dissipels saam vergader het uit vrees vir die Jode. Dan skryf hy: 'Ons het gesit en rou en huil, dag en nag, totdat dit Sabbat was' (̓έως τού σαββατόν) (Leonhard 2006:228.GCS 11.38.7-9).

Vers 5 beskryf dat Jesus voor die Sabbat gekruisig is, waar die Sabbat en Pasgadag dieselfde dag is en beskryf word as 'hulle fees'. Dit kan daarom vertolk word dat hulle die Pasga self as 'n Sabbat beskou het sodat dit nie noodwendig na die weeklikse Sabbat verwys nie. Dit kon die Donderdag of vroeër gewees het. Die Vrydagaand breek die weeklikse Sabbat aan. Dit is die enigste logiese interpretasie van vers 27 waar die dissipels 'dag en nag gerou en gehuil het totdat dit Sabbat was'. Indien die kruisiging op die Vrydag was, het die weeklikse Sabbataand aangebreek met sy begrafnis, en sou hierdie gedeelte nie sin maak nie (Leonhard 2006:228 n. 307). In die teks word die Paasfees Sabbat (5) onderskei van die 'Sabbat vóór die opstanding' (7, 34, 50).

Omdat hierdie gedeelte nie inpas in die tradisionele hipotese van Vrydag se kruisiging nie, het daar verskeie hipoteses ontstaan om dit te probeer inpas sodat dit sin kon maak binne die tradisionele hipotese. Die hipoteses hou nie stand nie en sodra 'n oplossing gebied word, veroorsaak dit nuwe probleme, sonder dat 'n volledige oplossing gebied word (Leonhard 2006:228; Vaganay 1930:274).

Brown (1994:1340) verklaar dat 'deur die Sabbat' ingelees moet word in plaas van 'tot op die Sabbat'. Behalwe dat die teks dit nie weergee nie, los dit nie die 'dag en nag' op wat dit sou duur nie (Leonhard 2006:228). Crossan (1988:23) verklaar dit as die sewende dag van die Fees van die Ongesuurde Brode en dieselfde Sabbat as vers 50. Dit bied ook nie 'n oplossing nie, aangesien die 'dag van die Here' reeds aangebreek het tussen verse 27 en 58 (v. 34-35, 50). Selfs al is dit nie die 'dag van die Here' genoem nie, beskryf die teks steeds 'n dag tussen die Sabbat van vers 27 en dié van vers 58 sodat dit nie na dieselfde dag kan verwys nie. Gerlach (1998:192) stel dat dit selfs moontlik 'n skryffout van die outeur kan wees. Rouwhorst (1989:I:162; II:139; Leonhard 2006:228) verklaar dat dit 'n baie kort vas was van drie ure en lei moontlik die Quartadecimaanse gebruik in van drie ure vas, soos wat in die Didaskalia voorkom.

Evangelie volgens Petrus en die tema van 'Lam van God'

Daar bestaan verskeie opinies oor die afhanklikheid van die Evangelie volgens Petrus ten opsigte van die kanonieke evangelies. Die teks is in 'n groot mate 'n unieke tradisie en daar kom geen direkte ooreenstemmings van frases tussen die Evangelie volgens Petrus en die kanonieke evangelies, soos in die sinoptiese evangelies, onderling voor nie. Daar bestaan ook ooreenstemmings en verskille ten opsigte van die kanonieke evangelies met betrekking tot kronologie, teologiese temas en fokus of klem op sekere aspekte (Elliot 2007:150; Leonhard 2006:229; Mara 1973:214; Stewart-Sykes 1998:153; Van der Watt & Tolmie 2005:478-479).

Een van die belangrikste simboliese aspekte wat veral van belang vir die analisering van die kalendriese aspek van die Paasfees is, is dat Jesus die Pasgalam is wat op die tyd geslag is wat die Hasmonitiese Pasgalam geslag moes word. Vir die Johannese tradisie is dit 'n baie belangrike aspek. Nie net stem dit met Johannes se kronologie ooreen nie, maar in Johannes se geskrifte, veral Openbaring, word die teologiese simboliek dikwels herhaal dat Jesus die 'Lam van God' is. Binne hierdie konteks beeld Johannes Jesus uit as die Pasgalam wat op die presiese tyd vóór die Pasga-ete gekruisig is. Johannes bring 'n direkte verwysing na Jesus as Pasgalam waar hy die parallel trek tussen die Pasgalam waarvan die bene nie gebreek moet word nie en Jesus wie se bene nie aan die kruis, soos dié van die ander, gebreek is nie (Joh 19:36). Die Evangelie volgens Petrus sluit by Johannes se kronologie aan, maar nie by die teologiese gedagte van Jesus as Pasgalam nie (Stewart-Sykes 1998:153-154). In elk geval nie eksplisiet soos wat Stewart-Sykes (1998:150, 152) en Mara (1973:82) dit veronderstel nie. Die Evangelie volgens Petrus noem Jesus nooit die Lam nie en anders as Johannes verklaar dit dat Jesus se bene wel gebreek is, weens die haat van die Jode teenoor Hom en nie omdat Hy reeds dood was en as vervulling van die Skrifte nie.19

Stewart-Sykes en Mara veronderstel dat die teks slegs een Pasga tydens die kruisgebeure weergee, wat waarskynlik nie so is en ook nie bewys kan word nie omdat die teks eers ná Jesus se Pasgamaal begin. Dit pas dus by die die Henogitiese Quartadecimane in om Jesus se kruisiging te plaas op die tyd wat die Hasmonitiese Pasgalam geslag moes word, sonder sterk klem op Jesus as Pasgalam, soos dit in die Johannese Quartadecimane en Anti-Quartadecimane voorkom.

Evangelie volgens Petrus oor die Agtdaagse Paasfees

Stewart-Sykes (1998:26) stel dat die Quartadecimane van 14 Abib tot Sondag gevas het en dat dit op die Evangelie volgens Petrus gegrond was. Dit is nie waar nie, aangesien daar gesien kan word uit die evangelie dat die dissipels vir die totale duur van die Paasfees saamgekom het en eers daarna vertrek het. Dit word wel nie gestel of dit ooreenkomstig die Henogitiese of Hasmonitiese kalender was nie.

Hieruit kan gesien word dat die Henogitiese Quartadecimane meer etiologies klem op die Ou Testament geplaas het deur steeds die Agtdaagse Paasfees te vier en dit nie die Sondag met die opstanding beëindig het nie (Richardson 1973:80; Stewart-Sykes 1998:152). In hierdie hoedanigheid sluit hulle in 'n mate aan by die Judaïstiese Quartadecimane, soos byvoorbeeld Blastus (Stewart-Sykes 1998:154), behalwe dat die Henogitiese Quartadecimane nie die Hasmonitiese kalender gevolg het nie, maar juis die Henogkalender in opposisie van die Hasmonitiese en later Rabbynse Judaïsme.

Die teks van die Evangelie volgens Petrus is die oudste Christelike tradisie wat ondubbelsinnig wys dat daar Christene was wat die Agtdaagse Paasfees herdenk het (Leonhard 2006:206, 224-226; Rouwhorst 1989:I:154, 2004:63-85).


Melito van Sardis

Melito, biskop van Sardis, word deur Eusebius prominent aan die tweede fase van die Quartadecima-vraagstuk gekoppel. Eusebius beskryf dat die tweede fase in Laodicea ontstaan het.20 Die tweede fase het tussen ongeveer 160 en 170 n.C. gestrek, met Melito van Sardis en Apollinarius van Hiërapolis wat as die twee prominente rolspelers genoem word.21

Daar is baie min oor die lewe van Melito bekend.22 Eusebius verwys in sy Kerkgeskiedenis 4:13, 26 na agtien van Melito se werke, waarvan die meeste vandag verlore is. In die helfte van die 20ste eeu is verskeie tekste van 'n volledige preek van Melito ontdek, genaamd die 'Preek aangaande die Pasga', wat voorheen slegs deur fragmente van die teks bekend was (Blank 1963:22-23; Bonner 1940; Douglas, Comfort & Mitchell 1992; Gerlach 1998:61-62; Lohse 1953; Kenyon 1941; Van Goudoever 1961:155).

Ondanks verskeie opinies oor die status van Melito as Quartadecimaan, kan gesê word dat die 'Preek aangaande die Pasga'23 geen direkte kalendriese aspek van die Paasfees weergee nie (Stewart-Sykes 1998:7, 40-41). Afleidings wat gemaak word, is slegs indirek op grond van die klem wat hy op seker temas plaas, kronologie waarby hy aansluit en vertolking van die kruisiginggebeure. Selfs die indirekte afleidings is nie baie duidelik dat Melito 'n Quartadecimaan was nie. Was dit nie vir die derde party, naamlik Polikrates wat Melito duidelik as Quartadecimaan beskryf het nie, sou die 'Preek aangaande die Pasga' moeilik as konkrete bewys van Melito se status as Quartadecimaan kon gewees het. Daar gaan dus nie in baie besonderhede by Melito en die indirekte afleidings stilgestaan word nie.

Polikrates van Efese (139-196 n.C.)

Die eintlike voorbeeld wat die gebruik van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane vertolk, is Polikrates, biskop van Efese. Eusebius verwys na Polikrates in sy Kerkgeskiedenis (5:22; 5:24:1) as een van die belangrikste rolspelers van die derde fase van die Quartadecima-vraagstuk.

In Eusebius se beskrywing van die derde fase, plaas hy die parogieë van Klein-Asië se Paasfeesgebruik in kontras met 'die res van die wêreld' se gemeentes. Dit sluit in Rome, Aleksandrië, Palestina, die Weste en sekere dele van Sirië (Gerlach 1998:325). Hy verklaar dat Klein-Asië die 'ouer tradisie' gevolg het, terwyl die ander die 'apostoliese tradisie' gevolg het.24 Gerlach (Brox 1972:309; Gerlach 1998:325; Leonhard 2006:270) maak die opmerking dat indien die tradisie nie bly voortbestaan nie, of nie algemeen gehandhaaf word nie, dit 'n 'ouer tradisie' is. Die voortbestaan van die tradisie dui dan juis op die 'apostoliese aard' van 'n tradisie en word as sodanig geklassifiseer indien dit gehandhaaf word of in die algemeen voorkom.

Eusebius haal 'n gedeelte van 'n brief van Polikrates aan wat hy aan Victor, biskop van Rome, geskryf het om juis Klein-Asië se apostoliese navolging te verdedig, soos dit 'aan hulle oorgelewer' is.25 In Polikrates se brief beroep hy hom op sewe voorgangers waarvan twee apostels was, naamlik Johannes en Philippus. Die ander vyf was Philippus se dogters, Polikarpus van Smirna, Thraseas van Eumenia wat in Smirna ontslaap het, Sagaria wat in Laodicea ontslaap het, Papirius en dan ook Melito van Sardis. Hy skryf ook die brief namens ''n groot menigte wat byeengeroep is' en dus Klein-Asië vergestalt.26

Polikrates beskryf dan dat hulle 'die 14de dag van die Pasga gevier het ooreenkomstig die evangelie, terwyl hulle in geen aspek daarvan afgewyk het nie, maar die reël van die geloof gevolg het'. Die 'evangelie' kan op twee maniere vertolk word. Dit kan eerstens dui op die evangelie as die 'blye boodskap', die 'boodskap van Christus' en die 'boodskap van die Christendom'. Tweedens kan dit verwys na 'n enkel evangelie wat waarskynlik dié van Johannes sou wees, vanweë die prominensie van Johannes (Stewart-Sykes 1998:13-14, 37) en die tradisie dat hy die evangelie in Efese geskryf het (Brent 1995:65). Dit wil uit die teks self voorkom dat ondanks Johannes se prominensie eerder verwys word na die 'evangelie' as abstrakte verwysing en versamelnaam na die evangelie van Christus. Die verwysing daarna as die navolging van die 'reël' of 'kanon van die geloof' dui daarop dat die eerste opsie meer sin maak (Stewart-Sykes 1998:152-153).

Die verklaring dat die Henogitiese Quartadecimane die Pasgaviering etiologies op die evangelie begrond, plaas hulle in kontras met die Judaïstiese of Wettiese Quartadecimane, soos Blastus, wat die Pasgaviering etiologies grootliks op die wet begrond het.27 Omdat hulle die viering op die evangelie begrond het, beteken dit dat hulle dit óf mimeties op die kruisgebeure begrond het óf etiologies op die wyse waarop Christus en die dissipels die Pasga gevier het,.

Op grond van Polikrates se brief, sowel as Eusebius se beskrywing, wil dit voorkom of hulle dit eerder etiologies as mimeties begrond het. Polikrates beskryf dat 'hulle in geen aspek van die navolging van die geloofsreël van die evangelie afgewyk het nie'. Hy verklaar dit self deur te stel dat hy soos al sy voorgangers die dag altyd herdenk 'wanneer die volk die suurdeeg weggebêre het'. Hierdie beskrywing skep die moontlikheid dat dit eerder dui op die etiologiese navolging van die Pasgaviering, wat selfs terugstrek tot die wet en dus as sodanig deur Christus en sy dissipels gevier is (Leonhard 2006:270; Schürer 1973-1987:iii:22-23; Stern 2001:222-223). Polikrates het dit dan ontvang deur die oordrag van die apostels Philippus en Johannes.

Daar bestaan twee mimetiese begrondingsmoontlikhede. Die een is simbolies van aard en die ander kronologies. Die simbolies mimetiese begronding is geleë in Jesus wat as die Pasgalam geslag is, vóór die aanbreek van die Pasga-aand van die Hasmonitiese Judaïsme. Die Anti-Quartadecimane het klem hierop gelê (Cullen 2007:44-45; Roberts & Donaldson 1997a II: 'Fragments of Clemens of Alexandria: XI: From the last work on the Passover'; Souvay 1929-1930:43-62; Stewart-Sykes 1998:157-158). Dit is duidelik dat Polikrates en Klein-Asië in opposisie hierteen gestaan het (Gerlach 1998:325, 361). Die tweede moontlikheid is dat hulle die Pasga herdenk het soos dit in die Evangelie volgens Johannes beskryf word as die aand ná die kruisiging (Stewart-Sykes 1998:41). Dit sou dan in aansluiting wees by die Johannese Quartadecimane. Nogtans het die Johannese Quartadecimane sterk klem op die simboliek van Jesus as die Lam van God gelê as deel van hulle rede tot bepaling van die Paasfees (Stewart-Sykes 1998:40, 154-155, 158), wat nie hier ter sprake is nie. Nieteenstaande Johannes se prominensie dus, sou Polikrates nie inpas as Johannese Quartadecimaan nie.

Die etiologiese begronding van die Pasga verleen gewig aan die moontlikheid dat hy die Pasga gevier het, soos wat Christus dit gevier het. Dit bring die moontlikheid dat hy 'n Sinoptiese Quartadecimaan was. Vanweë die sterk klem op Johannes sou dit onwaarskynlik wees dat hy die Paasfees gevier het suiwer ooreenkomstig die sinoptiese evangelies, ten koste van die Evangelie volgens Johannes (Dugmore 1961; Schürmann 1951; Stewart-Sykes 1998:151). Dit beteken dat hy nie ooreenkomstig die sinoptiese evangelies slegs die maaltyd van Christus en sy dissipels as enigste maaltyd tydens die kruisgebeure sou erken28 ten koste van die Evangelie volgens Johannes nie, waar laasgenoemde ook 'n Pasga ná die kruisiging beskryf (Stewart-Sykes 1998:37-38, 40, 154). Hy sou dus ook nie as Sinoptiese Quartadecimaan geklassifiseer kan word nie (Leonhard 2006:284; Rouwhorst 2005). Dit laat die opsie van Hasmonitiese en Henogitiese Quartadecimaan (Stewart-Sykes 1998:152).

Daar is 'n paar faktore wat daarop dui dat Polikrates eerder as Henogitiese Quartadecimaan geklassifiseer moet word. Een van die kenmerkendste eienskappe van die Henogkalender en die Henogitiese Quartadecimane, is die konsekwentheid en vastigheid van die Paasfees in die kalender. Die feit dat die Henogkalender se kalenderdae elke jaar op dieselfde weeksdag val, veroorsaak dat die bepaling dat die Pasga-aand elke jaar op 14 Abib val, wat beteken skemeraand van die derde weeksdag, Dinsdag. Polikrates skryf vervolgens in sy brief29 dat hulle 'die presiese dag' onderhou en 'niks byvoeg of aftrek nie'. Hierdie konstantheid of presiesheid wat nie aanskuif of terugskuif nie, skep die indruk dat hulle die Henogitiese kalender gevolg het.

Indien hy etiologies aansluit by die Pasgamaal wat Christus saam met sy dissipels genuttig het, soos in die sinoptiese evangelies beskryf word, tesame met die prominensie wat die Evangelie volgens Johannes in Klein-Asië geniet het, verskerp die moontlikheid dat hulle die twee Pasgas tydens die kruisiginggebeure erken het (Richardson 1973:75; Weitzel 1848). Dit is ook een van die eienskappe van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane. Hulle het dus die Pasga gevier in ooreenstemming met die gebruik van Jesus, soos Hy dit saam met sy dissipels gevier het. Dit was volgens die Henogkalender, wat 'n dag (volgens die hipotese van die twee Pasgas) of drie dae (ooreenkomstig die hipotese van die verlengde lyding) (Jaubert 1957:116-118; Saulnier 2012:39-41) vóór die Hasmonitiese Pasga, wat die aand ná die kruisiging aangebreek het.

Eusebius30 se vertolking van Klein-Asië en Polikrates sluit aan die een kant hierby aan wanneer hy beskryf dat die 'ouer tradisie' van Klein-Asië was om Pasga op die 14de van die maand te vier, noukeurig as die 'Verlosser se fees'. Die indruk wat dit skep, is dat die Pasga vir hulle beteken het om dit in navolging van Jesus se viering te vier.

Aan die ander kant is Eusebius se beskrywing van Polikrates en Klein-Asië eerder duidend op dié van die Hasmonitiese Quartadecimane, sodat hulle die Pasga op 14 Abib gevier het, maar volgens die son-maankalender. Dit is die kalender wat deur die Hasmonitiese Judaïsme gebruik is en oorgedra is aan die Rabbynse Judaïsme. Die belangrikste kenmerk van hierdie kalender, en so ook van die Hasmonitiese Quartadecimane, is dat die weeksdag waarop 14 Abib elke jaar val, varieer. Eusebius beskryf dat Klein-Asië die 14de onderhou 'op die dag waarop die Jode beveel is om die lam te offer'. Hierdie beskrywing sou ook nog op beide die Hasmonitiese sowel as Henogitiese Quartadecimane kon dui, aangesien die Pasgalam wat geslag word as kalendriese aspek vir beide geld. Maar hy voeg by: 'dat hulle die vas staak op 14 Abib, op watter dag van die week dit ook al sou gebeur'. Volgens Eusebius se beskrywing het Klein-Asië óf die gebruik van die Hasmonitiese Quartadecimane vergestalt31 óf Eusebius was verkeerd in sy siening oor die Quartadecimaanse gebruik in Klein-Asië, veral ten opsigte van die datum en bepaling daarvan.

In beoordeling van Eusebius se beskrywing moet onthou word dat hy vanuit 'n vierde-eeuse perspektief skryf oor gebeure wat langer as 'n eeu vantevore plaasgevind het (Gerlach 1998:325). Verder skryf hy binne die konteks vanuit Palestina en vertroud met die 4de-eeuse Rabbynse gebruik van Paasfeesbepaling (Leonhard 2006:269-270; Mohrmann 1962:159). Verder fokus hy ook meer op wie by aspekte betrokke was en wanneer dit plaasgevind het, as op wat die kwessies was.32 Dit is daarom moontlik dat hierdie beskrywing van Eusebius 'n 4de-eeuse indruk van die Quartadecimaanse gebruik was en nie noodwendig Polikrates se gebruik weerspieël nie.

Strobel (1977:352, 389-392, 449) steun laasgenoemde hipotese en verklaar dat Klein-Asiatiese navolgers van die Henogitiese Quartadecimaanse gebruik is. Hy noem hulle die Solariese Quartadecimane wat 'n suiwer sonkalender volg ooreenkomstig die Qumrankalender. Hy begrond sy hipotese egter op die vierde-eeuse Montaniste soos beskryf in Sozomenus.33 Strobel beweer dat die vierde-eeuse groep 'n gebruik gevolg het wat baie ver in die geskiedenis terugstrek, en dat hulle die algemene gebruik van Klein-Asië nagevolg het en laasgenoemde dié van die Qumrankalender.34


Spore van die Henogitiese Quartadecimaanse gebruik in die Didaskalia

Strobel (1977:228, 352, 389-392, 449) verklaar dat die gebruik van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane in Antiochië voorgekom het, want een van die duidelikste spore van die Henogitiese tradisie kom voor in die Siriese geskrif Didascalia apostolorum (Leer van die apostels). Hy verklaar dat die gebruik vóór die konsilie van Nicea in 325 n.C. deur Klein-Asië laat vaar is en na Sirië en Mesopotamië versprei het. Die teks dateer uit ongeveer die helfte van die derde eeu n.C. (Roberts & Donaldson 1997:VII: 'Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: Introductory Notes'; Gerlach 1998:166). Alhoewel die teks self 'n Anti-Quartadecimaanse gebruik veronderstel, stel dit dat Jesus die Pasga saam met sy dissipels op die derde weeksdag (Dinsdag) teen die aand genuttig het. Die Dinsdagaand se Pasgamaal-tradisie word dus erken, soos dit in die Henogkalender voorkom, maar die redakteurs van die teks het 'n ander vertolking gebied in die verklaring waarom die Pasgamaal op die Dinsdagaand en nie op die Vrydagaand genuttig is nie. Die vroeër plasing van die Pasga word deur die outeurs verklaar as bedrog van die Joodse owerstes wat die Pasga van Vrydag na Dinsdag vervroeg het sodat hulle Jesus nie op die Pasga sou doodmaak nie.35



In die eerste drie eeue van die Christendom het daar verskeie strome ontstaan wat die Paasfees op verskillende wyses gevier het. Die twee hoofstrome is die Quartadecimane en die Anti-Quartadecimane. Die Quartadecimane het die Pasga elke jaar op 14 Abib begin en die Anti-Quartadecimane op die Vrydag vóór die eerste (sommige selfs die tweede) Sondag wat ná die 14de Abib aanbreek. Binne hierdie twee hoofstrome het daar verskeie variasies voorgekom. Een van hierdie variasies binne die Quartadecimane was die Henogitiese Quartadecimane. Hulle het die Pasga bepaal ooreenkomstig die Henogkalender waar die Pasga elke jaar op 14 Abib begin is. Die 14de Abib het elke jaar konsekwent op die derde weeksdag geval sodat hulle die Pasga teen skemer die Dinsdagaand begin vier het. Hulle het dit etiologies op die Pasgamaal van Jesus begrond en sodoende indirek op die wet, ingesluit Henogitiese geskrifte soos in Qumran gevind is. Hulle het die mimetiese begronding nogtans nie totaal geïgnoreer nie, maar juis twee afsonderlike Pasgas tydens die kruisiginggebeure erken, naamlik die maaltyd van Jesus saam met sy dissipels (Henogitiese Pasga) en die een ná Jesus se kruisiging (Hasmonitiese Pasga). Die mimetiese begronding, naamlik Jesus as Pasgalam, was nie mimeties aan Jesus se kruisiging vóór die Hasmonitiese Pasga gekoppel nie.

Die eerste spore van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane wat opgespoor kan word, ná die evangeliese tydperk, buiten die kanonieke geskrifte, is in die Evangelie volgens Petrus. In hierdie evangelie word afgelei dat die kruisiging nie ooreenkomstig die tradisionele hipotese oor die kruisiging op die Vrydag plaasgevind het nie, maar ten minste die Donderdag of dalk vroeër. Dit is selfs moontlik dat die outeur twee afsonderlike Pasgas tydens die kruisgebeure erken het. Dit toon 'n Christelike groep aan wat steeds die Agtdaagse Paasfees gevier het.

Die prominentste voorbeeld van Henogitiese Quartadecimane is Polikrates, biskop van Efese. Hy is deur Eusebius se Kerkgeskiedenis as prominente persoon tydens die derde fase van die Quartadecima-vraagstuk teenoor Victor van Rome geplaas. Polikrates kan beskou word as woordvoerder van die Quartadecimane van Klein-Asië teenoor die Anti-Quartadecimane van die 'res van die wêreld', in die besonder Rome. Hierdie fase speel af in die laaste dekade van die tweede eeu n.C.

Polikrates word as Henogitiese Quartadecimaan geklassifiseer. Die belangrikste rede vir hierdie identifisering is deur eliminasie van gegewens. Hy kan nie as Judaïstiese of Wettiese Quartadecimaan beskou word nie, aangesien hy die Pasga nie hoofsaaklik op die etiologie van die wet begrond het nie. Hy kan ook nie beskou word as Sinoptiese Quartadecimaan wat slegs die kronologie van die Sinoptiese evangelies ten koste van die Evangelie volgens Johannes gevolg en die Pasga sodoende suiwer etiologies op Jesus se Pasgamaal gegrond het nie. Hy kan nie as Johannese Quartadecimaan beskou word wat die Pasga slegs erken het tydens die kruisiginggebeure, wat ná die kruisiging was, en baie sterk klem op Jesus as Lam van God geplaas het nie.

Hy was dus óf 'n Hasmonitiese óf Henogitiese Quartadecimaan. Eusebius is verkeerd in sy beskrywing wat Polikrates as Hasmonitiese Quartadecimaan skets. In Polikrates se brief self dui dit eerder daarop dat hy 'n Henogitiese Quartadecimaan was.

Spore van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane kan gesien word in die derde-eeuse Didaskalia, waar Jesus se Pasgamaal pertinent op die derde weeksdagaand (Dinsdagaand) geplaas word. Ondanks hierdie tradisie wat die teks weergee, handhaaf die Didaskalia 'n Anti-Quartadecimaanse gebruik om nie die Pasga op 14 Abib te begin nie.

Die Henogitiese Quartadecimane was dus 'n groep met variante en eiesoortige Paasfeesgebruike, waar spore van hulle gebruik tot in die derde eeu n.C. geïdentifiseer kan word.



Bedanking aan prof. H.F. Stander van die Departement Antieke Tale en ander personeellede aan die Universiteit van Pretoria.

Mededingende belange

Die outeurs verklaar dat hulle geen finansiële of persoonlike verbintenis het met enige party wat hulle nadelig kon beïnvloed in die skryf van hierdie artikel nie.


W.P. is die hoofskrywer. Die artikel is gebaseer op sy PhD-navorsing. J.M.v.d.M. was sy toesighouer en is mede-outeur van die artikel.


Die navorsing is deur die Universiteit van Pretoria befonds.

Data beskikbaarheidsverklaring

Data-deling is nie van toepassing op hierdie artikel nie, aangesien geen nuwe data in hierdie studie geskep of ontleed is nie.


Die sienings en menings wat in hierdie artikel uitgedruk word, is dié van die outeur(s) en weerspieël nie noodwendig die amptelike beleid of posisie van enige geaffilieerde agentskap van die outeurs nie.



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Johan van der Merwe

Received: 18 July 2018
Accepted: 19 Mar. 2019
Published: 30 Sept. 2019



1 . Eksodus 12:6, 18; Levitikus 23:5; Numeri 9:3, 5; 28:16; Josua 5:10; 2 Kronieke 30; 35:1; Esra 6:19; Ester 45:21.
2 . Matteus 26:17-30; Markus 14:12-26; Lukas 22:7-23.
3 . Josua 19:14; Markus 15:25; 33; Matteus 27:45; Lukas 23:44; 1 Korinthiërs 5:7.
4 . Josua 18:28; 19:14; Markus 14:1-2.
5 . Matteus 28:1; Markus 16:2, 9; Lukas 24:1; Josua 20:1; Petrus Evangelie 9-11 (35-49).
6 . Eksodus 12:6, 18; Levitikus 23:5; Numeri 9:3, 5; 28:16; Josua 5:10; 2 Kronieke 30; 35:1; Esra 6:19; Ester 45:21.
7 . Eksodus 12:6, 18; Levitikus 23:5; Numeri 9:3, 5; 33:3; Deuteronomium 16:1-6; Beckwith 2001:1.
8 . Eksodus 12:8; Numeri 28:16; Deuteronomium 16:1, 4; Josua 5:10; Esra 6:19; Ester 40:1-48:35.
9 . Eksodus 12:15-19; 13:6; 23:15; 34:18; Levitikus 23:5; Numeri 28:17; Deuteronomium 16:1-8; 2 Kronieke 30:21-23; 25:17; Esra 6:19; Ester 45:21.
10 . Eksodus 12:16; 13:6; Levitikus 23:7-8.
11 . Eksodus 12:11, 34; Levitikus 23:5; Numeri 9:2, 4-6, 10, 12-14; 28:16; 33:3; Deuteronomium 16:2-3, 5-6; 2 Kronieke 30:13-15, 18-21.
12 . Midr. Psalms 104:19; b. Pesah.68a; Sanh.91b; Rashi ad Jes.30:26; Rashi ad Sag.4:2; Ex. Rab. 15:21; Rosh Hasjana 1:1-3f; 2:5-7; 3:1; Sanhedrin 1:2; Tos. Sanhedrin 2:6; Bab. Sanhedrin 11a-b; Jer. Megillah 1:4; Jer. Erubin 3:8-9; m. Sukk. 5:6-8; b.Sukk.55b-56b; b. Moed Qat. 17b; Hand.9:1; 22:5; 28:21; Beckwith 2005:11-12, 25; Humphreys en Waddington 1992:334-336; Jaubert 1957:19; Saulnier 2012:22; Talmon [1951] 1989:169; Talmon, Ben-Dov en Glessmer 2001:3, 8, 33; Vanderkam 1998:35-38.
13 . 4Q320-330, 337, 394:1-2.
14 . b. Erub. 56a; 1 Henog 72-82; 4Q320-330, 337, 394:1-2; Jobeil 5:23; 6:32; Boccaccini 2002:75; Beckwith 2005:83, 89, 113; Glessmer 1999:244; Jaubert 1957:19-20; Talmon [1951] 1989:164; Talmon, Ben-Dov en Glessmer 2001:1-3, 41-42, 68, 83, 95, 100, 104, 114, 120, 124-125, 134, 139-140, 143-144, 147-148, 151-152; Saulnier 2012:22-23; Vanderkam en Flint 2004:212, 257; Vermes 2004:347.
15 . 4Q320:4iii:2; 321a:I:3; 321:IV:8-9; 325:I:1; 326:2; 329a:1-2; 329:1:1; 239:2a,b:4; 2de jaar: 4Q320:4iii:12; 321:V:4; 329a:2-3; 3de jaar: 4Q320:4iv:7; 329a:3-4; 321:V:8-9; 4de jaar: 4Q320:4v:1; 321:III:8; 329a:4-5; VI:3; 5de jaar: 4Q320:4v:10; 321:VI:7; 329a:5-6; 6de jaar: 4Q320:4vi:6; 321:VII:2; 329a:6; Talmon [1951] 1989:161-162.
16 . Bab. Sanhedrin 43.a; Flavius Josephus: Antiquitates Judaicae 3:248; Philo Judaeus: De Vita Mosis 222; Misjna Moed Pesachim 3:6; 5:4, 9.
17 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ec 5:23:1; Leonhard 2006:154; Mosshammer 2008:109-110, 137-138.
18 . Stewart-Sykes 1998:154; Chronicon Paschale: Patrologia Graeca 92:80B; Gerlach 1998:367-368; Origenes: Commentarium in Matthaeum ser. 79; GCS 38:188; Gerlach 126-127.
19 . Evangelie volgens Petrus 4(14); Gerlach 1998:191-192.
20 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 4:26:3; Gerlach 1998:319.
21 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 4:26:1-8; Stewart-Sykes 1998:155-156.
22 . Roberts en Donaldson 1997 VIII: Melito, the Philosopher; Douglas et al. 1992: Melito; Knight 2003: St. Melito; Blank 1963:13-21; Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 4:21:1; 5:24.
23 . Engelse vertaling: Bonner 1940: The homily on the passion by Melito bishop of Sardis, in: Studies and Documents XII. Londen: Christophers. Duitse vertaling: Blank 1963: Meliton von Sardes: Vom Passa - Die älteste christliche Osterpredigt. Freiburg im, Breisgau: Lambertus. (Griekse teks: Dumont en Smith 1992-2002: Melito Apol. 1495 001).
24 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 5:23:1; Gerlach 1998:324-325.
25 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 5:24:1-8; Gerlach 1998:328; Mosshammer 2008:48.
26 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 5:24:8; Stewart-Sykes 1998:12-13; Mosshammer 2008:48; Leonhard 2006:45.
27 . Tertullianus: Adversus omnes haereses 8:8; Gerlach 1998:329, 372, 374; Zernov 1993:25; Richard 1965:198; Brent 1995:64-65; Leonhard 2006:271, 284; Stern 2001:49; Huber 1969:25, 70-73; Stewart-Sykes 1998:36-37, 151-153; Lieu 1996:228.
28 . Chronicon Pascale PG 92:79; Stewart-Sykes 1998:150-151; Lohse 1953:136; Richardson 1973:79; Strobel 1977:19-22.
29 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 5:24:2.
30 . Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 5:23:1.
31 . Stern 2001:222; Leonhard 2006:269, 271-272; Epifanius: Panarion 70:10:2.
32 . Leonhard 2006:270; Gerlach 1998:320; Eusebius Pamphilii: Historia Ecclesiastica 1:1:4.
33 . Sozomenus Salaminus: Historia Ecclesiastica 7:18:12-14.
34 . Strobel 1977:449; Kyk opposisie van Strobel: Gerlach 1998: 375.
35 . Didaskalia 21; Gerlach 1998:203-230; Leonhard 2006:283; Jaubert 1957:74-75.

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Om te floreer: Die viering van die Eucharistie en Seligman se teorie van welstand


To thrive: The celebration of the Eucharist and Seligman's theory of well-being



Dieter de Bruin

Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa





Human flourishing is a growing topic of research in various disciplines, including theology and liturgical studies. In this article the Dutch Reformed Church's official theology of the Eucharist was drawn into conversation with Martin Seligman's theory of human flourishing. This was done by juxtaposing Seligman's five pillars of well-being to the Dutch Reformed Church's formularies for the celebration of the Eucharist. The conversation is also enriched by snippets of wisdom from other psychologists, philosophers and theologians. The encounter between Seligman's theory and one version of the Church's theology of the Eucharist delivered fruitful connections and avenues for further exploration in the understanding and enhancement of human flourishing.
INTERDISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The research includes the following disciplines: Practical Theology, Philosophical Theology and Psychology. This article is fundamentally interdisciplinary as it is structured as a conversation between Theology and Psychology to be mutually enriching in service of human flourishing.

Keywords: positive psychology; human flourishing; Eucharist/Lord's Supper; virtues; alimentary theology.




Martin Seligman dek die tafel van sy boek Flourish (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 147) met 'n belofte: 'This book will help you flourish'.

Die (ietwat minder ambisieuse) belofte wat hierdie artikel maak, is dat die viering van die Eucharistie ruim moontlikheid bied om lewensvolheid (soos wat dit deur Seligman gekonseptualiseer word) te bevorder.

Beloftes maak skuld. Soos Karen Scheib (2014) Seligman se vyf pilare van welstand gebruik om in gesprek te gaan met die feministiese narratiewe teologie aangaande menslike florering, gebruik ek Seligman se teorie om die moontlikhede uit te lig wat die viering van die Eucharistie bied om menslike florering te bevorder.

Die Eucharistie is 'n maaltyd en ek sluit aan by die teologiese benadering en metodologie vir hierdie refleksie by Montoya (2009, plekmerker 124) se 'alimentêre teologie': ' theology's vocation is to become alimentation: theology not ony concerned about food matters, but also theology envisioned as food' (my klem). Meer spesifiek sluit ek ook aan by Montoya wat sy teologiese benadering sien as 'n gesamentlike en interdissiplinêre geleentheid om brood te breek wat voedsaam sal wees vir die gemeenskap (plekmerker 193).

In die gees van Montoya word in hierdie artikel 'brood gebreek' in 'n interdissiplinêre gesprek tussen Martin Seligman se teorie oor menslike florering en die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NG) Kerk se teologie van die nagmaal.1

Die maaltyd wat ek in die artikel voorsit, bestaan uit drie gange:

  • As voorgereg word Seligman se teorie van florering as 'n oliebol voorgesit, met my eie opvatting van lewensvolheid as 'n vulsel vir die holte van die deegkring.

  • As hoofgereg word die Positiewe Sielkunde se verstaan van die vyf pilare van welsyn in gesprek met die viering van die Eucharistie gebring in 'n smörgasbord van teologiese en sielkundige invalshoeke.

  • Nagereg is 'n klein soetigheid van die voorlopige afleiding oor die viering van die Eucharistie en menslike florering deur die lens van Seligman se teorie.


Seligman se teorie van florering (sonder 'n sentrum)

Seligman (2002) het aanvanklik in sy boek Authentic happiness aangevoer dat geluk uit drie dimensies bestaan, naamlik 'positive emotions, engagement and meaning' (Seligman 2002:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 284). In sy boek Flourish (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 309) het Seligman se teorie egter 'n fokusverskuiwing ondergaan. Aanvanklik het hy die onderwerp van die Positiewe Sielkunde as 'geluk' gesien, en dat die standaard om geluk te meet, lewenstevredenheid sou wees, en dat die doel van die positiewe sielkunde sou wees om lewenstevredenheid te bevorder. Hy het egter tot die insig gekom dat die onderwerp van die positiewe sielkunde welstand moet wees, en dat die standaard om welstand te meet, florering moet wees, en dat die doel van die positiewe sielkunde moet wees om florering te bevorder.

Vir Seligman is welstand 'n konstruk en nie 'n entiteit op sigself nie. Hy gebruik die analogie om te verduidelik: Die weer is nie 'n 'ding op sigself' nie, maar dit bestaan uit verskillende aspekte soos die temperatuur en humiditeit wat wel dinge op sigself is. Op dieselfde manier is welstand 'n konstruk wat nie op sigself meetbaar is nie, maar dit bestaan uit 'werklike dinge' wat wel gemeet kan word (Seligman 2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 345-352).

Die elemente wat die konstruk van welstand konstitueer, is volgens Seligman (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 364-442):

  • positiewe emosie

  • meelewendheid

  • positiewe verhoudings

  • betekenis

  • prestasie

Kritiek op Seligman se teorie en voorveronderstellings

Om Seligman te nooi as gespreksgenoot vir die teologiese gesprek rakende florering is nie bo kritiek verhef nie (bv. Beier 2014; Nyengele 2014). Ek wil in die artikel nie die meriete van Seligman se teorie bevraagteken nie, maar in die gees van wedersydse verryking (Charry 2011:185) van sy insigte gebruik maak in nadenke oor hoe die weeklikse viering van die Eucharistie kan bydra tot menslike florering.

Die onderwerp van die Positiewe Sielkunde, aldus Seligman (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 309), is welstand en die doel van Positiewe Sielkunde om menslike florering te vermeerder deur positiewe emosie, betekenis en positiewe verhoudings.

Die feit dat Seligman nie 'n definisie van florering as sodanig gee nie, is egter wel iets wat ter wille van die argument hier genoem moet word. Seligman se konsep van die konstruk kan egter ook gesien word as 'n 'oliebol sonder 'n sentrum' (Sundararajan 2005:54 in Hackney 2007:214) waar ' the notion of an objective universal human telos separate from expressions of personal preference is typically denied, ignored, or given fairly superficial lip service '.

In ooreenstemming met Milbank (2006:382) glo ek die teologie kan hierdie leë sentrum vul.

Ek werk met drie teologiese aannames:

  • Eerstens dat die volheid van die lewe gevind word in die deelname aan die lewe van God (Ward 2015:1011).

  • Tweedens dat in die deelname aan die Eucharistie mense (en die kosmos) deelneem aan die lewe van God (Caldecott 2012:197).

  • Derdens dat die deelname aan die Drie-enige God se lewe nie net 'n 'transendente' belewing bo of buite hierdie lewe het nie, maar dat dit ook 'n rol speel in die immanente van die lewe. Vanuit 'n feministiese narratiewe perspektief (sien Scheib 2014:1-2) is die Positiewe Sielkunde 'n bondgenoot deurdat die Positiewe Sielkunde, soos die Feministiese Teologie, 'n alternatiewe storie bied oor die volheid van die lewe wat ook in hierdie lewe gevind word.

Die belewing van vreugde in God én in 'hierdie' lewe is waarmee ons gesprek begin.


Positiewe emosie en die genesing van affek in die Eucharistie

Seligman (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 280-289) beskryf die konsep van positiewe emosies so: 'What we feel: pleasure, rapture, ecstacy, warmth, comfort, and the like. An entire life led successfully around this element, I call the "pleasant life".'

In 'n artikel getiteld 'Salvation: The pedagogy of affect' bring Graham Ward (2015:1000) positiewe emosie met redding op sigself in verband. Hy verstaan verlossing as die beweging na 'n lewe wat getuig van meer positiewe as negatiewe affek; en sonde as dit wat verkentering tot negatiewe affek veroorsaak. Dit is hierdie verslawing wat skade aan ons doen en vermeerder deur eindelose siklusse van om teen gesondig te word en om teen ander te sondig. Dit is van dié gebondenheid waarvan verlossing ons red (Ward 2015:1009).

Ward bespreek die sosiale, kognitiewe en liggaamlike aspekte van negatiewe emosies, asook die nuanses tussen gevoel, emosie en affek, en daarop brei ek nie hier uit nie, behalwe om saam met Ward te beklemtoon dat negatiewe affek die hele menslike bestaan raak. In die geheel, aldus Ward (2015:1003), is die effek van negatiewe gevoelens om ons te verkleineer en ons kapasiteit vir positiewe emosies en positiewe affek soos verwondering, geluk en kalmte te verminder.

Aan die ander kant is daar positiewe emosies wat meer fundamenteel is as beleefde negatiewe emosies. Hy argumenteer dat vir 'n Christen daar sekere positiewe emosies soos vreugde, vrede, liefde, vergifnis en deernis is wat meer fundamenteel is as die evaring van negatiewe affek soos vrees, of positiewe affek soos geluk. Die rede daarvoor, volgens Ward (2015), is dat hierdie oer-affekte eerstens goddelik is, alvorens hulle menslik sou wees:

These are, if you will, Trinitarian 'affects'; 'affects' circulating within the nature of the Godhead in which, en Christo, Christians participate. If 'affects' here, with the impassibility of God, are within inverted commas, that is because we know them only by analogy. (p. 1009)

In 'n teologiese gesprek met die Positiewe Sielkunde sou mens kon sê dat dit waar is, wat Peterson (2013) na aanleiding van Seligman en Csikszentmihalyi (2000) aanvoer, dat wat goed in die lewe is, net so eg is as dit wat sleg is: 'not derivative, secondary, epiphenomenal, illusory, or otherwise suspect' (Peterson 2013:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 181). Hierdie 'metafisiese' uitspraak van Peterson kan teologies begrond word in die onaandoenlikheid van God self en dat daar nog dieper 'positiewe' affekte is wat tradisionele positiewe emosies transendeer. Ward (2015:1009) verduidelik verder deur te sê dat positiewe affek dit is wat deur God self geniet word in God se eie trinitêre lewe en gemeenskap met God self.

Die beweging van sonde wat tot negatiewe affek lei, na 'n lewe van meer fundamentele positiewe affek wat in God gesetel is as die proses van redding, vind volgens Ward nie plaas deur goddelike fiat nie, maar deur emosionele regimes wat ons sensoriese en kognitiewe response verander. Hierdie transformasie gebeur nie volgens goddelike fiat nie; maar eerder deur goddelike inwerking in die konteks van dissipelskap wat 'n tranformasie, of selfs 'transubstansiasie' van 'n hart van klip na 'n hart van vlees, deur beide goddelike en menslike handeling, bewerk word (Ward 2015:1003).

Die suggestie van die transsubstansiasie van die hart kan reeds vir ons 'n aanduiding wees dat die Eucharistie so 'n 'emosionele regime' kan wees wat ons sensoriese en kognitiewe reaksies op die wêreld kan vorm. Ten minste op die vlak van formele betekenis kan mens waarskynlik hierdie aanname maak.

Enersyds koppel Die handleiding van die erediens (NG Kerk 2010) die viering van die Eucharistie aan die verlossing van sonde:

Hierdeur waarborg Hy sy soenverdienste vir ons so volledig asof ons self voor God gestaan het, self die straf vir ons sonde gedra het, self daarvoor gesterf en opgestaan het en ons geregtigheid voor God verwerf het. (bl. 97)

Interessant genoeg word emosies in hierdie dimensie van die betekenis van die nagmaal gerelativeer:

Die sekerheid wat hierdie waarborg ons gee, is nie gegrond op ons gevoelens op stemminge nie, maar op die tekens uit die hand van die Here, dit is in die Here self gevestig. (bl. 97)

Die emosies word nie hier genoem nie, maar daar sou goedskiks gedink kon word aan die gebrek aan vrede, die emosie van skaamte en vrees wat Ward (2015:1001) ook spesifiek in sy artikel noem.

Die Eucharistie word ook gekoppel aan die positiewe emosie van vreugde: 'Die nagmaal is 'n vreugdefees in die midde van én teenoor die vreugdeloosheid van hierdie wêreld' (oorspronklike klem). Andersyds kry dit ook 'transendentale' bevestiging: 'In die nagmaalsfees mag die gemeente nou van die vreugde smaak wat vir ons wag by die bruilofsmaaltyd van die Lam' (NG Kerk 2010:99). As sonde dan op hierdie affektiewe manier verstaan kan word, dan kan dit dalk wees dat brood wat gebreek en wyn wat gedrink word 'tot volkome verlossing van al jou sonde' (NG Kerk 2010:92) ook beteken dat hierdie brood en wyn tot jou genesing sal dien - ook jou affektiewe genesing.


'n Lewe van positiewe verhoudings en die viering van die Eucharistie

Verhoudings met mense is vir die Positiewe Sielkunde onontbeerlik: positiewe sielkundiges se studies benadruk keer op keer die belang van ander mense. As sosiale wesens, sou dit nie verrassend wees dat mense so sterk in die sielkunde se goeie lewe figureer nie, aldus Peterson (2013:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 1532). Peterson, Isaacowitz, Vaillant en Seligman (2003:181-201) meen dat die kapasiteit om lief te hê en liefde te ontvang die nouste verband hou met die belewenis van subjektiewe welstand op tagtigjarige leeftyd.

Die Positiewe Sielkunde plaas liefde as 'n sterk punt van karakter wat uitgedruk word in versorgende wedersydse verhoudings met ander en dit sluit in romantiese liefde, vriendskap, liefde tussen ouers en hul kinders, asook ander sosiale verbintenisse soos byvoorbeeld die verhouding tussen kollegas (Scheib 2014:9).

In haar bespreking van Seligman se pilaar van 'positiewe verhoudings' sluit Scheib (2014) aan by positiewe sielkundiges se navorsing oor liefde en in haar refleksie bied sy haar eie gedagtes oor liefde in aansluiting by Oord (2010:17) se definisie: 'To love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic/empathic response to God and others, to promote overall well-being'.

Vir Von Balthasar (2004) is die viering van die Eucharistie 'n kontemplasie van liefde in liefde en dit is vanuit hierdie liefdevolle viering waarvan die kerk uitgestuur word om lief te hê:

the celebration of the Eucharist is itself an anamnesis, which means that it is contemplation in love and the communion of love with love; and it is only from such a celebration that a Christian mission goes out into the world (Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 975)

Ook vanuit 'n gereformeerde perspektief kan dit beklemtoon word dat dit vir Calvyn waar is dat die deelname aan die liggaam van Christus noodwendig 'n deelname in liefde beteken. Volgens Billings (2007:15-16) beteken vir Calvyn om aan Christus deel te neem, altyd die dankbare vervulling van die wet van die liefde, deur die krag van die Gees. Hierdie deelname vind plaas binne die konteks van die kerk en die kerk se sakramentele lewe. Die liefde kring uit van wedersydse liefde in die kerk, tot die liefde vir die naaste, en uiteindelik liefde wat openbaar word deur geregtigheid en billikheid in die samelewing.

Hierdie gedagte word ook mooi verwoord in die eredienshandleiding van die NG Kerk (2010):

Die Nagmaal is die viering van die gemeenskap met die lewende Here en met mekaar Dit sluit ook gemeenskap met mekaar as lidmate van die een liggaam van Christus in aangesien dieselfde Gees wat ons oë vir Christus oopmaak, ook ons oë vir mekaar oopmaak en ons in liefde met mekaar verbind. (bl. 98)

Een van die navorsers binne die kader van die Positiewe Sielkunde by wie Scheib aansluit, is Barbara Fredrickson (2013). Hoewel Fredrickson haar eie perspektief op die konsep van die liefde het, kan dit op 'n transversale wyse aansluit by die deug van liefde soos wat dit in die konteks van positiewe emosies hierbo geskets is. Ek kan nie hier volledig op Fredrickson (2013) se teorie ingaan nie en ek volstaan by haar eie opsomming van die gevolgtrekkings uit haar navorsing:

To put it in a nutshell, love is the momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: first, a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person's biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other's well-being that brings mutual care. (p. 17)

Fredrickson se teorie is dat 'liefde' soos wat sy beskryf, nie noodwendig net hoef plaas te vind tussen 'geliefdes' nie, maar dat dit 'n momentele gebeurtenis is wat ook tussen vreemdelinge kan plaasvind (2013:15-17). Ek wil nie volledig teologies oor hierdie siening van Fredrickson reflekteer nie, maar ek sien dat dit tog 'n uitnodiging kan wees om te reflekteer oor hoe die viering van die Eucharistie 'n geleentheid kan wees wanneer daar deur liturgiese handelinge daarop gefokus kan word om mense die geleentheid te gee om saam positiewe emosies soos vreugde en verligting te beleef. Daar kan ook met gekoördineerde handelinge in ritme en resonansie bymekaar gekom word. Daarbenewens kan daar ook binne die raamwerk van die prediking, liturgie en sorg van die gemeente (al is dit net vir die uur en 'n bietjie op 'n Sondag) 'n belegging in mekaar se welstand gemaak word en kan mense op so 'n wyse ook 'n toename in die belewenis van volheid ondervind.

Tydens die nagmaal in baie gemeentes en tradisies word die vredegroet met mekaar gedeel - daar is ruim geleentheid om mekaar in die oë te kyk en fisiek in kontak met mekaar te kom. Soos die maaltyd wat gedeel word, kan hierdie oomblikke ook 'n ikoon of 'n templaat word wat al ons ander praktyke van groet informeer. Soos wat ons mekaar, in die konteks van die nagmaal, as die beeld van Christus sien in die erediens, kan elke interaksie met 'n mens en situasie dien as 'n geleentheid om liefde te beleef en liefde te bewys.

Soos Wainwright (2014) dit stel:

The Lord's Supper is the rite in which the love of the Lord Jesus is demonstrated and experienced, whereby the virtue of love may be inculcated among the immediate recipients and even extended beyond them through their corresponding conduct. (Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 474)

Die Eucharistie is inderdaad in die woorde van pous Benedictus die 16de die Sacramentum caritatis (Benedict XVI 2007).


Die betekenisvolle lewe en die Eucharistie

Seligman (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 302) karakteriseer die betekenisvolle lewe soos volg: 'The Meaningful Life consists in belonging to and serving something bigger than the self '.

Om die nagmaal te verstaan as 'n offer kan 'n moontlikheid bied om te verstaan hoe die Eucharistie 'n lewe van betekenis kan bevorder. Sonder om in die besonderhede van hierdie kontroversiële dimensie van die Eucharistie in gereformeerde kringe in te gaan, vind ek die ireniese opsommende aanbeveling van Hunsinger (2008) van hulp:

It is proposed that the consecrated elements of bread and wine be seen not only in their 'downward' movement (or 'humanward') significance as the means of communion, but also in their 'upward' (or 'Godward') significance as the means by which church is incorporated into Christ's offering of himself in eternal intercession on behalf of the faithful and the world. (p. 317)

Een dimensie in die soeke na betekenis wat my tref in Scruton (2014:2) is die feit dat hy by die filosoof Patočka aansluit wat aanvoer dat die betekenis van die lewe, selfs in die 'goddelose' twintigste eeu, te vinde is in dit waarvoor mens jou lewe sal offer.

Scruton (2014:2) volg Durkheim deur te sê dat die kernreligieuse ervaring die ervaring is om 'n lidmaat (member) van iets groters te wees, en waar ek opgeroep word om my eie belange op te offer ter wille van die groep en om my lidmaatskap van die groep te vier in handelinge van toewyding wat geen ander regverdiging sou hê as dat dit beveel word nie. Die nagmaaldiens dien by uitstek as antwoord op die vraag na behoort en diens aan iets groters (NG Kerk 2010):

In die nagmaal word ons gekonfronteer met die vrae: waarop sit jy jou hart? Waar lê jou hoogste prioriteite en lojaliteite? Wie roep jy aan in jou oomblikke van nood? Op wie vertrou jy? Want dié een wat ons as die bron van alle goed beskou en wat in tye van verdriet en moeilikheid ons enigste toevlug is, dié dinge waarop 'n mens se hart staatmaak en waarop dit geheel en al vertrou, is in werklikheid jou God. (bl. 98)


'n Lewe wat vloei - die deugdelike lewe en die Eucharistie

'n Kernelement van Seligman se welstand-teorie is wat hy noem engagement (Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 285-297).

Hierdie dimensie sluit veral by Csikszentmihalyi (1992) se bekende konsep van vloei aan (Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 4283-4524). Seligman (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 290) beskryf hierdie dimensie soos volg: 'Being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity '. Wat uiters belangrik vir my bespreking hier is, is wat Seligman (2011:295) sê oor die weg na vloei: 'There are no shortcuts to flow. On the contrary, you need to deploy your highest strengths and talents to meet the world in flow'.

In Seligman se aanvanklike teorie het hy die rol van sterk punte en die deugde gekoppel aan die dimensie van vloei, maar met sy welstand-teorie het hy die rol van die deugde en sterk punte verhef as onderliggend aan al vyf van die pilare van welstand. Niemiec en Wedding (2014) voer aan dat:

Positive strengths of character are viewed by many as the backbone of positive psychology because the most central areas of our well-being (e.g., relationships, flow, success, meaning, and positive emotions) are enabled by good character. (bl. 9)

Dit kan wees dat die viering van die Eucharistie die tipe karakter kan kultiveer wat die dimensies van Seligman se konstruk van welstand kan fasiliteer. En as mens oor die kweek van karakter dink in 'n teologiese konteks, sal die deugde-etiek 'n natuurlike gespreksgenoot wees.

In die breë gesproke is daar in die deugde-etiek vier dimensies wat gehanteer word in die vorming van karakter (Van Buskirk 2012:122).

Die eerste eienskap is 'n telos - dit verwys daarna dat daar in die deugde-etiek 'n fundamentele oriëntasie tot die hoogste goed of doel van alles is. Tweedens beklemtoon die deugde-etiek die rol wat gemeenskap speel in die vorming van karakter en in die tradisionele Griekse deugde-etiek is hierdie gemeenskap die polis wat deel in 'n gemeenskaplike telos waaraan die gemeenskap gebind word. Derdens word die rol van praktyke binne die gemeenskap beklemtoon waardeur karakter gevorm word. Vierdens is dít wat gevorm word, deugsaamheid of arete.

Ek maak gebruik van Van Buskirk (2012) se uiteensetting van hierdie dimensies om 'n gesprek oor die Eucharistie se vorming van karakter met die Positiewe Sielkunde te fasiliteer.


Telos gaan vir die deugde-etiek oor die bereiking van 'n sekere doelwit. Die bydrae wat die teologie hier kan maak, is om 'n meer robuuste beskrywing van die telos van die deugde te gee. Die aard van die telos kan op verskillende maniere beskryf word, maar hier word aangesluit by die Thomistiese benadering om God sien ' as object of the bliss of all the blessed ' (Westberg 2015:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 391).Die Eucharistie kan die deelnemers telkens weer na dié telos oriënteer en op 'n manier ook aan hierdie telos laat deelneem.


Die tweede aspek wat die deugde-etiek beklemtoon, is die gemeenskapgeoriënteerde rol rakende 'n gedeelde telos, naamlik om karakter te vorm. Een van die dimensies wat die Positiewe Sielkunde bestudeer, is positiewe instellings (Peterson 2013:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 1530-2869), wat goeie karakter moontlik maak. In Lopez en Snyder (2011:383-459) se handboek word die instellings van die familie, skole, instellings vir tersiêre onderrig en regs- en regeringsinstellings bespreek. Sakeondernemings, gemeenskappe en samelewings word ook as voorbeelde van positiewe instellings genoem.

Dit sou beslis ook moontlik wees om die kerk as een van hierdie positiewe instellings te sien. Een van die belangrikste aspekte waaroor gereflekteer kan word, is juis die rol wat die Eucharistie speel in die konstituering van die kerk (McPartlan 1993).


Die deugde speel 'n deurslaggewende rol in die Positiewe Sielkunde (met my klem):

Our project supports the premise of positive psychology that attention to good character sheds light on what makes life worth living. As Aristotle proposed long ago, happiness is the purpose of life, and living in accordance with one's virtues is how to achieve happiness. (Peterson & Park 2011:32)

Hier is ongelukkig nie ruimte om genoeg aandag te gee aan Peterson en Seligman (2004) se projek om die sterk punte van karakter te identifiseer nie, maar vir die doeleindes van die gesprek kan hier weereens net 'n paar kursoriese notas gemaak word om aan te dui hoe die kontoere van 'n voortgaande gesprek kan lyk.

Vir Peterson en Seligman (2004:12-13) bestaan die komponente van 'n goeie karakter uit verskillende vlakke. Hul klassifikasiesisteem is nie net horisontaal van aard nie, maar ook vertikaal. Daar is vir hulle drie vlakke van konseptuele abstraksie. (Ek fokus hier op deugde en goeie karaktertrekke; die ander vlak is situasionele temas wat bekendheid ook in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks verwerf het as die Clifton StrengthsFinder [Gallup s.a] waaraan ek nie aandag gee nie.)

Deugde is vir Peterson en Seligman (2004:13) sleuteleienskappe wat deur morele filosowe en godsdienstige denkers geïdentifiseer is. Die deugde wat die outeurs identifiseer, is wysheid, moed, menslikheid, geregtigheid, matigheid en transendensie.

Peterson en Seligman (2004:33-52) het wat hulle noem die ses belangrikste deugde geïdentifiseer deur na kulturele en godsdienstige tradisies te kyk wat volgens hulle die grootste impak op die menslike samelewing gehad het, en hulle het hulself nog verder beperk tot die geskrewe tekste vanuit hierdie kulture. Hulle het, onder meer, ook na die Christelike tradisie gekyk en hulle sluit spesifiek aan by die deugde wat Aquino in aansluiting by Plato geïdentifiseer het. Peterson en Seligman (2004) maak dié opmerking:

Note that within the Seven Heavenly Virtues Aquinas enumerated what we believe are the six core virtues: He presents the four cardinal virtues by name, invokes transcendence with the virtues of faith and hope, and humanity with the virtue of charity. (bl. 48)2

Goeie karaktertrekke is die sielkundige bestanddele, die prosesse of meganismes wat die deugde definieer: ' they are distinguishable routes to displaying one or another of the virtues' (Peterson & Seligman 2004:14). Dit is op hierdie vlak van klassifikasie wat Peterson en Seligman (2004) fokus in hul handboek. Collicutt (2015:58) voer aan dat die groot wins van die raamwerk van goeie karaktertrekke, van die VIA- (Values in Action) raamwerk, die woordeskat is wat dit moontlik maak om oor menslike sterk punte te praat en om hulle na te vors.

Daar sou navorsing gedoen kon word op elk van hierdie 24 sterk punte se interaksie met die viering van die Eucharistie, maar ek reflekteer slegs kortliks, op 'n illustratiewe manier op hoe om spesifiek deur die lens van Peterson se sterk punte die viering van die Eucharistie te verryk.

Vir die doeleinde van die gesprek fokus ek op die karaktertrek van dankbaarheid wat deur Peterson en Seligman (2004) gedefinieer word:

Gratitude is a sense of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift, whether the gift be a tangible benefit from a specific other or a moment of peaceful bliss evoked by natural beauty. (bl. 554)

Die viering van die Eucharistie impliseer selfs in naam dat dit 'n 'fees van dankbaarheid' (NG Kerk 2010:89) is. Interessant genoeg verwys Watkins, Van Gelder en Frias (2009) in hulle bespreking van dankbaarheid na Gerrish (2002) se boek oor Calvyn se opvatting van die Eucharistie wanneer hulle aanvoer dat groot momente in die geskiedenis gefokus was op dankbaarheid: 'For example, Gerrish argued that the reformation theologies of Luther and Calvin were primarily Eucharistic - theologies that focused on grace and gratitude' (Watkins et al. 2009:438).

Dit is nie moeilik om 'n mens te verbeel dat in die praktyk waar 'n groot gedeelte van die ritueel gewy kan word aan 'n dankgebed, sal bydra om dankbaarheid by mense te kweek nie.


Laastens beklemtoon die deugde-etiek die rol van praktyke binne 'n gemeenskap om karakter te vorm.

Die Positiewe Sielkunde stel ook hul eie stel praktyke voor wat reeds geïmpliseer word in die praktyk van die Eucharistie (die benaming natuurlik afgelei van die Griekse woord wat beteken om dank te betuig). Die goeie karaktertrek van Peterson en Seligman (2004) waarna ons verwys het, is dankbaarheid, en dit is tog vir my interessant dat Scott Barry Kaufman (2015) in 'n studie wat hy onderneem het om te bepaal watter goeie karaktertrek die grootste bydrae maak tot welstand (in Seligman se sin van die woord) gevind het: 'The single best predictor of well-being was gratitude'.

In een van die formuliere uit die NG Kerk se handleiding vir die erediens word daar samevattend oor die betekenis van die Nagmaal gesê: 'Uit dit alles blyk duidelik dat die nagmaal ten slotte 'n fees van dankbaarheid is' (NG Kerk 2010:89).

Die breë ekumenies liturgiese voorstel van die viering van die nagmaal, soos dit aangebied word in die eredienshandleiding, beklemtoon 'n praktyk; die praktyk van dankbaarheid wat die Positiewe Sielkunde sal ondersteun: 'Here, ons God, dit is reg en goed dat ons ons dank aan U bring. Dit is ons plig om dit altyd en oral te doen, deur Jesus Christus ons Here'.

Die praktyk van dankbaarheid wat Seligman aanbeveel is die drieseëninge-oefening (Seligman 2011:33), waar dit die gedagte is om aan die einde van die dag drie dinge neer te skryf wat goed gegaan het en waarom dit goed gegaan het.

'n Ander oefening wat Seligman (2011) aanbeveel, is wat genoem word 'active, constructive responding'. Hy skryf:

People we care about often tell us about a victory, a triumph, and less momentous good things that happen to them. How we respond can either build the relationship or undermine it. (bl. 48)

Aktiewe konstruktiewe reaksie behels dat mens met aandag luister wanneer iemand vir jou goeie nuus vertel, en dat jy met entoesiasme die persoon sal aanmoedig om die gebeurtenis te laat herleef (Seligman 2011:50).

Hierdie praktyk sou met relatiewe gemak in 'n klein eucharistiese byeenkoms geïnkorporeer kon word. Daar sou byvoorbeeld nie net na die 'leed' in die afkondigings en voorbidding aandag geskenk kon word nie, maar veral ook aan die 'lief'. Daar sou entoesiasties en verbaal tydens die 'afkondigings'-geleentheid van die liturgie aandag daaraan gegee kon word.

Hierdie baie onvolledige gesprek oor die deugdelike vormingkrag van die Eucharistie vanuit die Teologie en die Sielkunde is net bedoel om illustratief te wees - die verskillende praktyke en sterk punte van die Positiewe Sielkunde sou op kreatiewe wyses ook met die viering van die Eucharistie in verband gebring kon word.


Die presterende lewe en die viering van die Eucharistie

Dis tog vir my opmerklik dat Scheib (2014) in haar artikel nie die laaste gedeelte van Seligman se 'PERMA'-model, naamlik prestasie, bespreek nie.

Sy verskaf nie 'n rede vir hierdie weglating nie, maar 'n mens kan spekuleer dat, ofskoon aspekte soos positiewe verhoudings, betekenis, en selfs positiewe emosie binne 'n pastoraal teologiese register sinvol kan wees, dit dalk moeiliker is om ruimte te vind vir prestasie wat beskou word deur Seligman dat dit 'is often pursued for its own sake, even [if] it brings no positive emotion, no meaning, and nothing in the way of positive relationship' (Seligman 2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 403). Dit kan gesien word as prestasie wat dikwels ter wille van sigself nagestreef word, selfs al bring dit nie positiewe emosie, betekenis of groei in verhoudings nie.

Seligman is duidelik daaroor dat dit selde is dat die presterende lewe in 'n suiwere vorm gevind word, maar dit is tog vir hom belangrik om te erken dat prestasie 'n duidelike en onderskeibare element van welstand is, en dat mense dié soort lewe ter wille van sigself kies (2011:Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 422). Hierdie dimensie is ook vir Seligman tekenend daarvan dat hy die taak van die Positiewe Sielkunde as beskrywend en nie voorskriftelik sien nie (2011:plekmerker 433).

In my eie nadenke, nog voor ek Scheib (2014) se artikel teëgekom het, het ek ook geworstel oor wat ek met hierdie dimensie van Seligman se konstruk en die viering van die Eucharistie moet maak.

Wat dié aspek betref, kan mens reflekteer oor die rol wat genade in die deugsame lewe speel. Soos wat Beier (2014) dit stel: 'PP argues that we can pull ourselves up existentially by our boot straps '. Die manier waarop Beier (2014:5) die Positiewe Sielkunde verduidelik, is dat die Positiewe Sielkunde 'n soort sielkunde is wat mens geregtig laat voel op 'positiewe' emosies wat die byproduk van ervarings van bevrediging is, wat gebaseer is op die uitoefening van goeie karaktertrekke en deugde.

Beier (2014:4) is reg dat die uitleef van die deugde die weg na welsyn is vir die Positiewe Sielkunde, en in die loop van dié studie het ek tot dieselfde gevolgtrekking gekom. Die weg hoef egter nie sonder genade te wees nie - en die deelname aan die Eucharistie is vir my die bevestiging daarvan.

Dit is hier waar die teologiese bydrae van Aquino aangaande die deugde 'n rol kan speel. In 'n artikel oor die samehang tussen Aquino se morele en sakramentele teologie kom Harmon (2009:469) tot die gevolgtrekking dat ' (t)he theological virtues perfect the soul and its powers by making man's actions adequate to the attainment of God as his end'. Hierdie deugde is gawes, in die sin dat die mens nie in staat is om sulke deugde te verdien of te kweek nie. Dit kan alleen deur genade ontvang word. Dit is egter nie die geval, volgens Harmon (2009), dat die teologiese deugde die natuurlike mens agterlaat nie, maar eerder dat dit die natuurlike mens vervolmaak. Die genade van die teologiese deugde vloei deur die mense se hele wese met die effek dat dit die mens verhef en homself of haarself geskik maak om sy of haar hoogste doel te bereik.

Eweneens is die kernklem wat op die Eucharistie geplaas kan word dat dit 'n geskenk van God aan ons is. Dit is God wat handel in die sakramente (Wolterstorff 1998:311), eerder as dat die klem gelê word op die feit dat ons ons eksistensiële 'sokkies moet optrek'. Daardeur kan dié perspektief ook beklemtoon word, of, in die taal van die gewoontes en deugde, kan die klem volgens Aquino gelê word op die feit dat die deugde ingegiet word. Die lewe van aanbidding, volgens Dunnington (2011), die lewe wat gesentreer is rondom die Eucharistie, is nie een waarin ons self moet regkom nie, maar eerder:

Worship of the triune God releases us from the need to justify ourselves through strategies of self-deception by continually revealing that we are justified by Christ alone. And worship of the triune God relieves us of the burden of achieving our own identity and sustaining our own story by drawing us, through the work of the Spirit, into the life of God. (Dunnington 2011:Kindle-uitgawe plekmerker 1806)

As die prestasie wat ons wil bereik, is om deel te neem aan die lewe van God, en om 'n deugsame lewe te lei waar ons lewe gerig word op 'n lewegewende praktyk, dan kan die viering en deelname aan die Eucharistie op sigself 'n 'prestasie' wees.



Barnard en Wepener (2012:3) voer aan dat die liturgie moet bydra tot menslike florering. As mens hierdie stelling as waar aanvaar en as jy Seligman se teorie van welstand aanvaar as 'n nuttige omskrywing en operasionalisering van menslike florering, kan Seligman se vyf komponente van welstand 'n nuttige lens wees waardeur gesien kan word dat die viering van die Eucharistie bydra tot die volheid van die lewe.

Radcliffe (2008) se beskrywing van die Eucharistie is 'n gepaste klink van die wynglas:

the Eucharist is indeed a drama; it enacts the fundamental drama of all human existence. It forms us as people who believe, hope and have charity. These are usually called 'the theological virtues'. They are 'theological' because they are a sharing in God's life. Faith, hope and charity are ways in which God makes his home in us, and we are at home in God. They are 'virtues' because they touch us with God's virtues, God's dynamic grace, making us strong for our journey to happiness in God. (Kindle-uitgawe, plekmerker 111)



Hierdie artikel is gebaseer op my PhD-verhandeling, getiteld: 'Die weeklikse viering van die Eucharistie en die volheid van die lewe', onder leiding van Prof. Julian Müller.

Mededingende belange

Die outeur verklaar dat hy geen finansiële of persoonlike verbintenis het met enige party wat hom nadelig of voordelig kon beïnvloed het in die skryf van hierdie artikel nie.


Ek is die enigste outeur van hierdie artikel. Dit is gebaseer op my PhD-verhandeling, getiteld: 'Die weeklikse viering van die Eucharistie en die volheid van die lewe' onder leiding van Prof. Julian Müller.

Etiese oorwegings

Hierdie artikel volg alle etiese standaarde vir navorsing sonder direkte kontak met mens of dier.


Die outeur het 'n beurs ontvang van die Universiteit van Pretoria om die navorsing te voltooi.

Data beskikbaarheidsverklaring

Die deling van data is nie van toepassing op hierdie artikel nie, aangesien geen nuwe data in die studie geskep of ontleed is nie.


Die menings en opinies wat in die artikelweergegee word, is dié van die outeur(s) en weerspieël nie noodwendig die amptelike beleid of posisie van enige geaffilieerde agentskap van die outeur(s) nie.



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Dieter de Bruin

Received: 24 Jan. 2019
Accepted: 20 May 2019
Published: 07 Oct. 2019



1 . Dit is egter nie die enigste gesprek nie, en sal nie al die behoeftes vervul nie. Daar is nie ruimte om 'n uitgewerkte teologie van die nagmaal op die tafel te plaas nie, maar daar word hoofsaaklik aangesluit by die amptelike liturgie van die NG Kerk se teologie van die nagmaal soos dit vervat word in die Handleiding vir die erediens.
2 . Mens moet in die bespreking van die deugde en goeie karaktertrekke hier onder ten minste twee voorbehoude in ag neem: Die eerste is dat die deugde wat Peterson en Seligman (2004) identifiseer, kwalik meer as heuristise hulpmiddels is wat help om die goeie karaktertrekke 'n mate van orde te gee (Collicutt 2015:57). Of soos Peterson en Park (2011:27) dit self stel: '
the hierarchical organization - strength under virtues - is a conceptual scheme and not a hypothesis to be tested with data'. Die ander voorbehoud is op 'n manier voor die hand liggend: verskillende teoretiese en wetenskaplike konsepte kan nie noodwendig op dieselfde manier in die onderskeie dissiplines gebruik word nie. Dit is natuurlik ook die geval van die teologiese inhoud van die deugde in Aquinas soos wat dit hier in ontvangs geneem is, die hantering van die deugde en die goeie karaktertrekke in die Positiewe Sielkunde. Dit hoef natuurlik nie 'n probleem te wees nie en die teoretiese konsepte van die Positiewe Sielkunde kan as voorbeeld die refleksie oor en praktyk van iets soos die viering van die Eucharistie verryk.

^rND^sBarnard^nM.^rND^sWepener^nC.^rND^sBeier^nM^rND^sCaldecott^nS.^rND^sCharry^nE.T.^rND^sHackney^nC.H.^rND^sHarmon^nT.P.^rND^sIsaacowitz^nD.M.^rND^sVaillant^nG.E.^rND^sSeligman^nM.E.P.^rND^sKaufman^nS.B.^rND^sNyengele^nF.^rND^sPeterson^nC.^rND^sPark^nN.^rND^sScheib^nK.^rND^sSundararajan^nL^rND^sVan Buskirk^nG.P.^rND^sWard^nG.^rND^sWatkins^nP.C.^rND^sVan Gelder^nM.^rND^sFrias^nA.^rND^1A01^nVhumani^sMagezi^rND^1A01^nVhumani^sMagezi^rND^1A01^nVhumani^sMagezi



Pastoral care to migrants as care at the 'in-between' and 'liminal' home away from home: Towards public pastoral care to migrants



Vhumani Magezi

Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society (URT), Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa





Migration is one of the greatest challenges in recent times. Churches, like other sectors of society, are expected to contribute. Pastoral care as a frontline ministry that forms a link with society is expected to develop strategies for effective pastoral caregiving. Understanding the challenges of migrants to appropriately intervene requires a relevant diagnostic and assessment framework. This article proposes the notion of 'life in-between' as an assessment and guiding pastoral care intervention framework. The article argues that pastoral care to migrants should assume a public pastoral care approach to address their holistic needs and address the public dimension of care. Within this context, life at the 'in-between' is conceived physically, metaphorically, spiritually, emotionally and theoretically. The pastoral care provided to migrants as people at the 'in-between' is enriched by the notion of the human web as opposed to only focusing on the human document within the complexities of migrant care.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The study focuses on practical theology, but with a specific focus on the sub-discipline of pastoral care. It examines the phenomenon of migration and how it can be responded to. It focuses on designing a model for assessment and intervention in migrant care.

Keywords: public pastoral care; pastoral care; migrants care; life in-between; human web; migrants ministry; migrants pastoral care.




Some theologians considered the challenge of migration to be a sign of the times (Gruber & Rettenbacher 2015:1-4). Castles and Miller (2009:2-3) rightly described our present time as an age of migration. Hang (2018:279) observed that migration has been studied from various academic disciplines including politics, international relations, theology and many other areas. Accordingly, pastoral care - like any other theological discipline - should respond. Responding to migration is complex, with no simple and straightforward approach. It calls for flexibility, zigzagging and adopting a public pastoral role. As a contribution to the discussion on pastoral care to migrants, the article first positions migration within the context of public pastoral care. Secondly, it develops a pastoral assessment and hermeneutical framework for ministry to migrants. Thirdly, it suggests some pastoral care approaches to migrant contexts. The research is based on a literature study.

To locate migrant ministry within pastoral care compassion, Louw (2016a) in the article entitled 'The refugee dilemma and migrant crisis: "Charity begins at Home" or "Being Home to the Homeless"? The paradoxical stance in pastoral caregiving and the infiltration and perichoresis of compassion' argued that:

Compassion displays the hope of unconditional love and pity. Compassion in Christian spirituality is not a fleeting emotion of empathy; it is a new state of being and condition; it displays the mindset of Christ's vicarious suffering on behalf of the other; it exemplifies a hospital place and room for displaced human beings - even for displaced perpetrators.

Louw (2016:9) clarified that 'Compassion as a way of life and new state of being and mind (ethos) is about a habitus of caregiving and comfort'. In placing locating ministry within pastoral care, Louw (2016:9) clarified that: Cura animarum starts on a practical level caregiving with, (1) an unqualified grassroots encounter with all stakeholders in the refugee and migrant dilemma, (2) it moves to mutual understanding and interpretation beyond the hermeneutics of suspicion and prejudice, (3) it promotes negotiation with all parties involved; it alters social structures of exclusive participation to inclusive participation, (4) it applies a pastoral polity of presence: a compassionate being with them, where they are and (5) it practices an hospitable infiltrating and osmotic perichoresis of making room or home for the homeless. (p. 10)

Noting the theoretical formulations of Louw (2016a:9), Magezi (2017b:240-241) posed a question that challenges theoretical formulation in migration to practical application. He asked, 'How does one proceed from a theoretical reflection to a practical dimension and intervention for a ministerial formation that is informed by the theological notion of eschatological home?'. In response to this question, Magezi (2017b:245) proposed a migrant ministry responsive model that encourages co-existence between host country churches and migrant churches through a 'practical theological imagination of home as a responsive theology for migrant care and ministry'.

Louw's (2016) argument for compassion and Magezi's (2017b) proposal for an imaginative practical response model suggest a focus on making pastoral care public. Indeed, migrant ministry is a public pastoral care endeavour. Osmer and Schweitzer (2003:218) usefully described the task of public practical theology in three ways: firstly, it is about ensuring that the public is one of the audiences of practical theology. Secondly, it is to ensure that practical theology includes everyday concerns and issues in its reflection. Thirdly, practical theology should facilitate a dialogue between theology and contemporary culture. Pastoral care as cura animarum [cure of souls] is shifting from individual intrapsychic focus to addressing public issues (Louw 2014; McClure 2012; Miller-McLemore 2004, 2005, 2018; Ramsay 2004, 2014). Miller-McLemore (2018:312) highlighted three trends behind this shift. These are the interest in congregational studies, the call for a new public theology and the rise of liberation movements. Thus, shifting pastoral care to public pastoral care entails developing practical ways of healing aimed at public space issues (Leslie 2008:21) such as migration.


Migration and pastoral care challenge

Migration is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Migration has been made easy by globalisation, including easy travelling across countries (Skeldon 2013; United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner 2013). Various sectors of society, including national and international bodies such as United Nations (UN) agencies, the European Union, international organisations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), church bodies such as Councils of Bishops and the World Council of Churches, have been exploring ways to effectively address the challenges posed by migration.1 The challenge of migration is complex. The complexity of the migration situation was rightly expressed by the Council of Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE) (2016:1-2), who noted that 'the integration of migrants and refugees is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon for which no single model applies, but different experiences related to the needs and possibilities of the receiving territory' (CCEE 2016:1-2).

The interventions being implemented to address migration are documented by organisations such as the IOM (2015) and UNHCR Interventions in Situations of Internal Displacement (2018) and many others. Faith-based organisations, particularly churches, have also been involved in efforts to address migration in different ways. My interest in this article is on churches' contribution to addressing migration challenges. The churches have been involved in migration interventions, including mobilising citizens to put pressure on and lobbying governments particularly in Europe (Stourton 2015); the Pope's Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development (created by Pope Francis himself) to raise awareness of this issue and to persuade countries (Guzik 2018); Council of Bishops pastoral letters (CCEE 2016; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2003); issuing advocacy statements; establishing church non-governmental organisations; forming networks and coalitions; and providing congregational pastoral care ministries. Within these diverse church ministries and responses, this article's focus will be on pastoral care.

The church's interventions to migration are done from a Christian perspective. Baggio (2011:1-2) advised that migration requires serious theological reflection. Magezi (2018) in his doctoral thesis demonstrated that migration is indeed a theological issue that calls for a thorough theological reflection. He analysed the various theological approaches and classified them into five broad categories before proposing an integrated ministry model. These categories are:

1. a systematic approach that focuses on practical responses from pastoral care that is limited to particular social contexts

2. the approach of theological motif and ministry praxis from single biblical texts

3. a systematic response that focuses on Israel in the Old Testament as a paradigm of how the native churches and hosting nations should treat migrants

4. urban mission scholars' systematic approach to the Church's incarnational ministry embedded in their larger focus on migration within the context of the Great Commission

5. a systematic approach that focuses on doctrinal formulations that respond to migration challenges. (pp. 14-15)

In his own work, Magezi (2018:iv) proposes a 'Public Operative Ecclesiological Model (POEM)' of ministry to migrants. He argues that POEM is about a public church that understands its public practical theological role to be a community and socially responsive church. To ensure that churches practically engage in migration ministry, the Union Chapel's (2017) concept paper entitled 'Theologising on migration in Europe' usefully commented that:

The question is: in which ways can the scripture inform, help, and motivate Christians' praxis on migration dynamics. We must not allow our reading of scripture to nourish the division of the world in migrations and non-migrants. (p. 2)

The concept paper clarifies that the 'purpose of theologising on migration should be to inform and transform praxis and to move the policy debate forward by directing attention to questions of justice, community, responsibility and obligation' (Union Chapel 2017:2). The challenge for theology to engage with public issues such as migration is the focus of public theology. Vanhoozer and Strachan (2015:17-18) observed that public theology is first and foremost a reaction against the tendency to privatise the faith, restricting it to the question of an individual's salvation. An individualised and privatised approach to theology and Christianity renders theology and Christianity irrelevant in the world. Therefore, migration challenges pastoral care (cura animarum) to pastorally engage this public and social issue head-on. Within global pastoral care reflection, there is recognition and a shift of pastoral care to engage public issues (Lartey & Sharp 2015; Leslie 2008; Louw 2014; Miller-McLemore 2005; Ramsay 2004). Pastoral care should shepherd and nurture migrant people who are experiencing pain and other life challenges.

The question that arises from the preceding discussion is: how can pastoral care to migrants be performed in such a manner that it ensures holistic care?2 The researcher argues that pastoral care to migrants should assume a public pastoral care approach to address their holistic needs and address the public dimension of care. Three assumptions inform this argument (Union Chapel 2017):

1. Firstly, the challenges posed by migration both to the migrants themselves and host communities are complex. The challenges affect their total being (all dimensions of their lives). Hence, a relevant pastoral intervention should adopt a systemic approach. A systemic approach entails shifting from focusing only on the human document to an individual living in a human web. Miller-McLemore (2018:318) explains that this entails intervening pastorally on congregational, social and cultural levels in a manner that demands the same kind of extended attention, discussion and programmatic strategising that have given to individual listening.

2. Secondly, a systemic approach entails addressing holistic needs of migrants, which suggests that pastoral care should adopt a public pastoral care stance. Leslie (2008:81) advised that pastoral theology informed by public theology engages in public debate, engages life issues and develops practical strategies for healing, sustaining, guiding and liberating individuals, cultures and the natural order in the public space.

3. Thirdly, the space and position where hosts interface and interact with migrants to exercise hospitality are at grassroots level such as community (neighbourhood and other related social spaces) and at congregational level. Hence, pastoral care to migrants should entail empowering pastors and congregations to provide effective care. 'Part of the function of a pastoral theology is to equip these practices with the intelligence and wisdom needed to move from the immediate crisis intervention to longer term resolutions'. (p. 4)

To locate the argument of a responsive public pastoral care ministry that addresses migrants' needs within a theoretical framework, the researcher departs from the premise that migrants are people living an 'in-between life' (Magezi 2016:88-90). This refers to life between their home country and the host country where they are presently positioned. In such a context, pastoral care should assume a public pastoral care approach whereby caregiving entails holistic (whole person care-soul care-nephesh care). The caregiving process should be informed by the existential realities and complexities of the human web. These complexities include considerable tension between original homeland norms, values and practices and the practices, norms and values of the host country.


An assessment and hermeneutical model for understanding migrant challenges at the 'in-between' space

The notion of an assessment model within a process of understanding in pastoral care

An assessment or diagnostic model helps to explain and understand a situation more clearly. A diagnostic chart is about a hermeneutical understanding of how life issues are linked and interconnected (Louw 1998, 2016). Magezi (2017b), citing Louw, noted that:

The development of a diagnostic chart is based on the presupposition that insight into the systemic networking of attitudes and paradigms helps individuals to consider different strategic options, especially when one has to link the options to basic theological categories. (p. 241)

A diagnostic model helps one to see the bigger picture (Magezi 2017b):

Seeing the bigger picture brings about a kind of soberness and realism and opens up options that create a sense of 'hope'. A diagnostic chart helps one to see the bigger picture, the networking dynamics of life as an existential and qualitative category. Within this framework, life is a web where the dynamics and structural interplay between various situations, experiences and relationships should be understood as part of a reality within the global village. Complexity is the norm. (p. 241)

The CCEE (2016:1-2) noted that responding to migrants is complex. There is no simple and straightforward approach. It calls for flexibility and multiple strategies. Addressing the needs and challenges of migrants entails addressing the whole person in his or her entirety. They explain that 'the person may be in need of a job and a house, but also of the love of a family and spiritual support' (CCEE 2016). As stated by Magezi (2017b):

A model therefore helps to widen one's perspective and demonstrates the complexity of the migration crisis. It also helps one to see the big picture, which raises awareness on the complexities of the situation, and shows that an 'either-or' approach is inappropriate. (p. 243)

Thus, a diagnostic model helps to interpret and understand the situation of people. Dreyer (2005), in her essay entitled 'Reflections on Donald Capps' hermeneutical model of pastoral care' usefully explained that:

Hermeneutics forms the heart of the theological enterprise and is therefore interdisciplinary by nature. All theology, also practical theology and pastoral care, is a hermeneutical activity since it is about how one should understand and how one should communicate in order for the recipients to best understand what is being communicated. (p. 114)

Bhugra (2004), in his essay entitled 'Migration, distress and cultural identity' developed a conceptual model of understanding the changes that migrants go through. Bhugra (2004) argued that:

When people migrate from one nation or culture to another, they carry their knowledge and expressions of distress with them. On settling down in the new culture, their cultural identity is likely to change and that encourages a degree of belonging; they also attempt to settle down by either assimilation or biculturalism. (p. 129)

This puts migrants in some kind of middle point of 'neither here nor there'. While they are physically in another country, at the same time, they are deeply connected to their homeland. Magezi (2016:91-92) described this life of migrants as 'being in a web' where (Magezi 2017b):

[T]he dynamics and structural interplay between various situations, experiences and relationships should be understood as part of a reality. One has to contend with complexity and explore options to meaningfully cope within the situation. (p. 241)

Life in this situation is in flux, where people find themselves in 'in-between' situations.

Bhugra (2004:135) illustrated the changes that migrants undergo in a model (Figure 1). The diagram shows that migrants undergo changes at social and personal levels.



Bhugra (2004) argues that:

When individuals migrate, they do not leave their beliefs or idioms of distress behind, no matter what the circumstances of their migration. Their beliefs influence their idioms of distress, which influence how they express symptoms and their help-seeking behaviour. (p. 134)

He added that as migrants get acculturated,

Some aspects of identity are likely to change, including the concept of self, and this will be dependent upon the cultural context. A person's identity is defined as the totality of one's self - formed by how one construes oneself in the present, how one construed oneself in the past and how one construes oneself as one aspires to be in the future. (Bhugra 2004:134)

It is clear from Bhugra's observation that life of migrants is at the 'in-between'. Understanding this life space of the human web of migrants requires that pastoral care shifts from focusing solely on the person to paying careful attention to communal contextual (Lartey 2003:153-165). Miller-McLemore (2018) advises that in this context of the human web, pastors have to possess multiple skills. For instance, pastors have to 'know how to analyse communal resources, enter and organize communities for action, and balance ministry to individuals in crisis with social advocacy' (Miller-McLemore 2018:318).

Towards an assessment and hermeneutical model for migrant pastoral care needs

To provide pastoral care to migrants in their situations (i.e. their human web), one has to have insight and understanding of their needs and challenges. The needs are diverse, hence the pastor has to develop some insightful ways of assessing and addressing them. To develop such an understanding, an assessment model is required that will assist in understanding the situation to provide effect care. The model is summarised in the diagram below (Figure 2).



The assessment model attempts to present and reflect on the different dimensions of life, including physical, social, emotional, relational and spiritual. The arrows indicate movements that also have an impact on the life of the individual. The life of migrants is lived at an 'in-between' space. There are multiple dimensions of life at the 'in-between', all pointing to one aspect - life lived between geographical spaces. The notion of 'in-between' has physical, metaphorical, spiritual and emotional, and theoretical-conceptual dimensions.

Physically, life at the 'in-between' entails physical movement or shifting of an individual from time to time from the homeland to a new location and back, particularly for economic and professional migrants. For instance, a Kenyan migrant working in the United States moves 'in-between' these two countries. One has to set aside financial resources to meet these travelling costs. Metaphorically, life at the 'in-between' is a state of existing between two forces of influence pulling a person in two directions. It denotes a space of tension where allegiances, commitments, investments and the entire being are neither here nor there. It is a space of 'I don't belong permanently to either'. At a spiritual and emotional level, life at the 'in-between' is a state of emotional tension where an individual is torn between embracing the new culture, practices and norms of the host country and 'letting go' of those of the country of origin. It is characterised by spiritual confusion, dissonance and grief as spiritual being and values are confronted, challenged and altered. Just like life at the 'in-between' metaphor, the metaphysical world of the individual is thrown into turmoil. This particularly happens for adults, especially men from patriarchal cultures, who in most cases are cultural custodians. At a theoretical and conceptual level, life at the 'in-between' denotes the life in the new environment competing with the previous life experiences and foundations. Just like metaphorical 'in-between', it is life's 'force field' that is sustained by the existential pressure and competition between two influences in life, resulting in the formation of a new cultural blend. It is a space of 'liminal existence' where something new is forming, but it is characterised by uncertainty. Bhugra (2004:135) calls it biculturation. The principle of liminality was first described by Van Gennep (1960) and later developed by Turner (1967, 1969). Turner (1969:94) observed three phases in transition experiences: separation - losing an old world; margin (liminality) - entering an unknown world; and re-aggregation - re-emerging into a new world. For Turner (1967:94), the liminal function is the period of transition from 'one type of stable or recurrent condition that is culturally recognized' to another that is not recognised.

So, how is this life of 'in-between' lived and what are the issues that pastoral care providers should pay attention to?

Arrows 1 and 2: Arrow 1 (Figure 2) indicates directional movement of migrants from country of origin to new destination. When they arrive, they exploit the opportunities and seek meaningful existence in that country. However, periodically, these people would travel back to their countries of origin (arrow 2, Figure 2). This is particularly the case with professional migrants who emigrate to seek better opportunities. While in foreign countries, the people sometimes engage in investment and construction projects that they travel to oversee in their countries of origin. Physically travelling to new destinations (arrow 1) and back to their home country (arrow 2) is in most cases expected by extended family members. Failing to travel back from time to time can be construed as uncaring and betrayal of the extended family, particularly among African migrants, which causes emotional pain, dissatisfaction and despair. At the same time, the moving back and forth is expensive for the migrant, which puts the individual under immense economic pressure.

What role then can pastoral care play in such a case? In most cases, migrants move without having been adequately made aware of the challenges, expectations and responsibilities awaiting them by virtue of being in a foreign country particularly overseas. There is encouragement in pastoral letters for migrants to continue looking back to support their people. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (2003) 'Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration' encourages that:

Special encouragement should be given to migrants to be faithful to their spouses and families and to thereby live out the sacrament of marriage. Support of the family that is left behind is also needed. Migration under certain conditions can have a devastating effect on families; at times, entire villages are depopulated of their young people. (ch. 3)

In such a case, pastoral care should perform a preparatory role. At the countries of origin, pastoral care would entail equipping and empowering migrants with information about the realities of being a migrant. The USCCB (2003) recommends that:

As migrants leave their homes, pastoral counselling should be offered to help them to better understand these realities and to consider alternative options, including the exploration of available legal means of immigration. (ch. 3)

Therefore, moving back and forth is an aspect that pastoral caregivers should anticipate and address.

Arrows 3 and 4: Arrows 3 and 4 (Figure 2) denote migrants' interaction with their new environment to cope in the new situation. Arrow 3 is an individual's response to the new environment, including personal aspects such as dressing, employment, diet and child raising; social aspects such as acculturation and assimilation; and cultural aspects such as family values and status (Bhugra 2004:135). Arrow 4 indicates migrants' responses to the new environment. These responses may cause anxiety and depression because of, among other things, attempts to push back on new norms and values, struggling to adapt, and efforts to reinterpret life experiences in the light of the new environment.

Arrows 5 and 6: Arrow 5 (Figure 2) denotes spiritual norms, values and experiences imported through nostalgia to create an emotional buffer. There is often constant communication and linking with people in the country of origin. The individual keeps following up on trends and developments in the country of origin through news to maintain emotional and relational connection with the homeland. Arrow 6 (Figure 2) indicates largely communication and feedback to relatives in the country of origin. This includes feedback on progress, achievements and challenges.

The interactive arrows (Figure 2) indicate the interactions that happen as one tries to relate and adapt to the new environment. When people migrate, they take with them their culture, which, in turn, influences the way they live in a new environment. It is a kind of coping mechanism in a new environment. Bhugra (2004:130-136) explained that when individuals migrate, they do not leave their beliefs or idioms of distress behind, no matter what the circumstances of their migration. Their beliefs influence their idioms of distress, which influence how they express symptoms and their help-seeking behaviour. However, with acculturation, some aspects of these beliefs and practices change, including the concept of self. When two cultures of people come together, which is called acculturation, each of the cultures changes (Bhugra 2004:135). The cultures interact with one another to create a new one that is unique, but borrows from both cultures. A person then redefines himself or herself based on the past and the current experiences and interactions. In this process, some of the treasured things are lost, which sometimes causes pain because in reality one culture will dominate the other. Younge (2015) summed up the situation succinctly as follows:

Migration involves loss. Even when you're privileged, as I am, and move of your own free will, as I did, you feel it. Migrants, almost by definition, move with the future in mind. But their journeys inevitably involve excising part of their past. It's not workers who emigrate but people. And whenever they move, they leave part of themselves behind. Efforts to reclaim that which has been lost results in something more than nostalgia but, if you're lucky, less than exile. And the losses keep coming. Funerals, christenings, graduations and weddings missed - milestones you couldn't make because your life is elsewhere. (p. 1)

Life at the 'in-between' as indicated in the diagram (Figure 2) suggests that migrants' life is lived under several forces of influence that should be understood. There is an interaction and merging of the person's old experiences and new life experiences. The individual experiences new situations and environment, including buildings and infrastructure, relationships, social acquaintances and a new economic system, among others. This renders learned skills obsolete and in some instances it results in inversion of roles, when children adapt quickly and teach parents. There is also a need to quickly learn new skills for survival and many others things. A person see-saws between the new and old life physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. The pressure exerted on the individual should be understood by a pastoral counsellor. The situation is a human web that should be understood at multiple levels. The diagram (Figure 2) indicates some aspects that provide pointers on the issues to explore in pastoral caregiving. The interplay of these forces in migrant people should be understood to provide meaningful care. Church, as a convergence space in society and a subsystem of society, is called upon to provide effective pastoral care to migrants and other community challenges. 'Theologising on migration is at the service of both the church and the wider society. It should inform Christian praxis' (Union Chapel 2017:2). Theology places God and God's relationship with humanity and therefore the relationships of humanity within itself at the heart. Pastoral care as practical theology should develop strategies and approaches that address people's challenges in a holistic way.


Towards pastoral care guidelines for migrants' care ministry

Pastoral care discussions on migrants have tended to focus more on advocacy pronouncements and less on what can be done at local congregational level (Union Chapel 2017:2). Therefore, the following pointers seek to contribute to positioning pastoral care within a public response to migrants.

  • Firstly, pastoral care to migrants should be holistic. The ministry should be designed in a manner that it addresses spiritual and physical needs of individuals. Migrants' needs are complex and diverse, including the need for documentation, family separation, need for food, trauma, accommodation and many others. Often the individual has all these needs at the same time. Thus, with the limited resources of many churches, there is a need to draw from existing networks. This entails that the pastor adopts a strategic role as a community or city networker, for instance, linking with civil society organisations providing relevant assistance (e.g. obtaining documentation). Pastoral care would also entail developing a linkage with relevant government departments dealing with migrants and having dedicated staff.

  • Secondly a pastoral care should be attentive and seeing. This entails the development of pastoral skills and techniques to observe, identify and be sensitive to migrants' needs. Because of vulnerability and the desire to avoid being a burden, some individuals may decide to be silent. Therefore, the pastor should develop the skills to notice when people present unusual behaviour and intervene to assist.

  • Thirdly, congregational koinonia should be strengthened to provide a support structure for people without relatives and family. Migrants experience loss of a familiar and supportive environment and they require support as they adjust to the new environment and culture. Developing and strengthening family enrichment, including establishing home groups, provides a sense of family, which provides a buffer for lost relatives and connections.

  • Fourthly, pastoral care should include migrant education and empowerment. Because of exclusion by host communities, migrants sometimes tend to self-exclude and self-discriminate. This results in migrant enclaves where they form separate social networks. Because of their self-excluding nature, these networks may fan low self-perception. Pastoral care intervention of empowerment through pastoral education enrichment should be done. The themes should include a Christian understanding of citizenship, home, identity and other themes that address migrants' being.

  • Fifthly, pastoral care should also focus on congregational mutual learning. This entails creation of spaces for therapeutic conversations between host people and migrants. These conversations should engage in healing processes and Bible stories of family, hospitality and general life issues for catharsis.

  • Sixthly, pastoral care should include preparatory education before leaving the country of origin. Before departing from countries of origin, migrants need to be made aware of the potential challenges that they may encounter and be equipped with basic life skills to cope as a migrant. This includes identifying church spaces where they can worship and receive practical support.



There is no formula for providing pastoral care in complex situations such as migration. However, one important principle that should guide caregivers is that the interventions should have a clear intentional public dimension to address physical needs. This challenges the pastoral caregiver to develop multiple skills beyond spiritual care to practical life skills, which sometimes causes pastors to feel inadequate. In such situations, Louw (2014) advised that 'the being' of the pastor, the 'embodiment' of care is more important than techniques. Resonating with Louw's emphasis on the 'being of the pastor', but emphasising a slightly different aspect, Miller-McLemore maintained that despite the evident shift from the focus on the human document to the human web (Miller-McLemore 2018) as well as the shift from private intrapsychic focus to public pastoral care (Miller-McLemore 2005) that pastoral caregivers are called upon, this shift points to different strategies of pastoral care. Despite this shift, one fundamental aspect of the discipline, which Miller-McLemore (2018:318) calls the trademark, namely empathy, has stayed constant. Empathy is the defining undergirding attitude and skill required to effectively provide care within complex situations like migrant situations.



Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Authors' contributions

The author is solely responsible for this article.

Ethical considerations

The article is a literature study with no ethical clearance.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.



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Vhumani Magezi

Received: 06 Mar. 2019
Accepted: 20 May 2019
Published: 10 Oct. 2019



1 . For statistics on migration, kindly see Magezi's (2017) presentation of data from the UNHRC, the IOM and other international organisations.
2 . For a discussion on pastoral care as holistic care, see the discussion on how pastoral care ministry should provide care for the pubic in Louw 2014; McClure 2012; Miller-McLemore 2004, 2005, 2018; Ramsay 2004, 2014.

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Gender dimensions in Pentecostal leadership: The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa as a case study



Mookgo S. Kgatle

Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa





Women play an important role in Pentecostal Christianity, especially in an African context. They are a majority in most local assemblies and contribute a large percentage in terms of the income of such assemblies. Women are active participants in the activities of local assemblies such as prayer, fellowship and catering. The participation of women in general activities has been acknowledged by scholars interested in gender dimensions in Pentecostal leadership. The research gap exists in the representation of women in high structures of Pentecostal leadership. This article uses the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa, the largest Pentecostal church in South Africa, as a case study to look at women misrepresentations in the leadership structures of Pentecostal Christianity. The study is located in missiology and is a literary analysis that aims to explore problematic aspects or rationale behind the misrepresentations of women in high echelons of leadership in the AFM. The article looks at the best practices that can enhance women representations in Pentecostal leadership. The outcome is that women in the AFM should initiate their own upliftment. Secondly, the AFM should disarm patriarchy. Thirdly, the AFM should rethink the Pauline prohibition of women. Fourthly, the AFM might have to rethink elections in order to drive transformation agenda. Finally, the AFM should learn from prominent leaders like Richard Ngidi who encouraged women to take part in leadership.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article challenges gender inequality that perpetuates the marginalisation of women in Pentecostal leadership. Gender equality is proposed as an effective way to empower women to occupy highest offices in leadership.

Keywords: Pentecostal; Apostolic Faith Mission; gender; women; leadership.




The Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa is a classical Pentecostal Christian denomination. The AFM has been segregated according to various sections in South Africa for a long time. The sections include white, black, Indian and mixed race. Leadership in the segregated AFM has been dominated by the white section of the church. However, with the unity of the AFM in 1996, the church has experienced the rising of black leaders to take up roles in various leadership structures ranging from assembly leadership, Regional Leadership Forum (RLF), National Leadership Forum (NLF), National Office Bearers (NOB) and officers in the AFM International (AFMI). Although transformation has happened in terms of black representations, the AFM is still behind in terms of gender equality. The reason for this assertion is that there is a lack of women representations in the leadership structures. This article discusses women misrepresentations in the leadership of the AFM. The article looks at the dynamics around the absence of women in these structures. Gender equality is proposed as an effective way of empowering women to occupy the highest offices in leadership.

The history of the AFM is well documented by the Historians such as Pieter de Wet (1989), Japie Lapoorta (1996) and Marius Nel and Isak Burger (2008). These scholars have taken interest in studying the AFM from different subjects but not in the field of gender dimensions like inequalities and biases. There are exceptions like the master's thesis of Onnicah Selokela (2005) who looked at a study of women in the AFM of South Africa. Selokela's study is an:

[I]nvestigation and description of ways in which the AFM churchwomen are succeeding in overcoming patriarchy. It also gives a critical evaluation of the extent to which these women are successful in their endeavour to overcome it. (p. 1)

Selokela's study is focussed on the discussion on the AFM church in Rustenburg, North West Region. In addition, Selokela's study addresses issues, as they relate to the participation of women in the AFM, not necessarily women taking leadership roles in various structures of the church. This article pays attention particularly to the representations of women at the local assembly level, RLF, NLF, NOB and AFMI. The other difference is that one does not only look at the participation of women but also look at their leadership roles.

Another exception is the master's dissertation of Mmolotsane (2018:1) entitled 'Mme-mamoruti: Leadership impact on the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa - South Gauteng Region'. The weakness of this dissertation is the strength of this article. The first weakness is that the dissertation looks at the leadership impact of the pastor's wife. While this is very much connected with gender dimensions in Pentecostal leadership and in the AFM, the study is a discourse on the pastor's wife not a woman as a pastor or a leader. The second weakness is that the dissertation like that of Selokela concentrates on a particular region. In this context, it is concentrated on the South Gauteng region of the AFM of South Africa. It must be reiterated that this article is about the leadership of women and is addressing all the structures of the AFM not just a particular region. Thus, this article is relevant in the context of Pentecostal Christianity, especially the AFM. It affords the studies in African Pentecostal Christianity an opportunity to wrestle with how mission is performed in a context of gender inequalities that perpetuate the marginalisation of women. It also affords studies in gender dimensions an opportunity to address such inequalities and marginalisation.


Leadership structures of the Apostolic Faith Mission

Assembly leader

In 2000, the AFM adopted a new constitution, which at national level marked the beginning of a new philosophy. According to the Constitution of the AFM of South Africa (2010:3), 'successful, proven Christian leaders and pastors fulfill the role of apostles'. At the local level, decentralisation is the major effect, which allows churches to develop their own policies. The local assembly and their local pastor are autonomous and can decide on their own local policy. They only have to discuss the local policy with the local governing body. This practice was previously performed by the white division of the church to ensure that the black majority would not take over their property. The requirement for one to become an assembly leader is to be an ordained pastor after completing a proper theological training. This decision by the united AFM of South Africa has caused the church to grow in terms of numbers and financial income of assemblies because unlike in the past to a certain extent, the church no longer monopolises leadership but allows autonomy. Thus, local assemblies are operating like independent ministries. Other than having their own local policies, they have their own programmes that are relevant to their context. This contains certain dangers that should also be noted, like a spirit of independentism that loosens the boundaries of the AFM. The main question remains as to how many women assembly leaders are there in theNLF, formerly known as the EC, is the AFM's AFM. One will attempt to answer this question later in the article.

Regional Leadership Forum

The AFM is established in different regions according to the closest areas of fellowship. According to the constitution of the AFM of South Africa (2010):

and non-geographical regions (NGR) or networks. In the case of geographical regions, leadership forums exist which are representative bodies consisting of pastors and delegates from each assembly. NGR in the form of networks of local churches that share a peculiar ministry philosophy also exist. (p. 4)

The main function of the region is to oversee the local assemblies and their pastors in a specific region. This is again an excellent move by the church to have an RLF because pastors are able to receive support at a regional level. In some regions like the Gauteng North region, there are workshops conducted to help the pastors for church growth. The challenge for the church remains NGR. The church should rethink having NGR because it somehow still divides the church in terms of the rich and the poor. Most of the NGR constituencies are white pastors representing rich assemblies. The local assemblies that choose to fall under NGR end up depending on such structures financially. Therefore, one wonders if it is a genuine relationship or a financial one. The big question again is, 'how many regional leaders are women?'

National Leadership Forum

The leaders of different regions in the AFM become the members of the NLF. The constitution of the AFM of South Africa (2010) puts it in this way:

The NLF, formerly known as the EC, is the AFM's policy making body and the guardian of doctrinal, ethical and liturgical matters in the church. It licenses pastors, sets standards for ministerial training and settles disputes. It also convenes the annual National Leadership Conference (NLC) and General Business Meeting (GBM). (p. 5)

The NLF is an important decision-maker of the church. In my view, key decisions are actually taken by the NLF than the NOB. The NLF is made up of regional leaders in the AFM. Thus, women representation in the NLF is dependent on their representation in the region. In addition, the NLF is responsible for the selection process and interviews conducted for the appointment of pastors. The NLF will schedule interviews and thereafter issue a certificate of ordination which remains valid until the appointment of the ordained pastor in a full assembly. Furthermore, the NLF is responsible for the reinstatement of pastors who have previously lost their pastoral status. The process of reinstatement is almost similar to one of the ordinations.

National Office Bearers

The highest national structure in the AFM is called NOB. The function of NOB is to oversee the day-to-day running of the church like issuing of ordination certificate, administration and financial management of the church. It consists of four members, that is, the president, deputy president, secretary and the treasurer. The president and the secretary are full-time officials who report to the church headquarters on daily basis. For the election of the NOB, each assembly sends a pastor and one delegate, and other qualifying voting members including the members of the NLF, member from the church departments like children ministry, youth, men and women and representative of theological training (see the constitution of the AFM of South Africa 2010). There has been transformation in the NOB of the AFM. Since 1996 with the unity of the AFM, the NOB is well represented in terms of race and ethnic groups. Currently, the president is a black person. However, the challenge to this office remains the representation of women. In fact, the challenges to the ascension of women to this office emanate from the challenges with the representation of women in the RLF and NLF. Thus, change needs to happen in those structures before it can happen here.

Apostolic Faith Mission International

From the national structure, the AFM has an international structure that manages the churches from different nations. The official website of the AFM of South Africa (2019) mentions that:

From South Africa, the AFM grew into many countries on the African continent within the first 50 years. Today it has grown to Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. These international churches of the AFM are linked up through the AFMI to which member countries affiliate. (p. 1)

The AFM is growing at high rates especially in Europe. There are AFM churches in both the southern and northern London including the Midlands. Thus, the church is spreading its wings in the global north at a great speed. There are pastors at that level who are equipped and who equal the task of leading local assemblies at an international level. There is also a huge growth on the continent of Africa. The AFM is represented on almost all the countries of Africa. Thus, the AFM is well represented in almost all the corners of the earth and in all the continents around the globe. The AFM is also showing some signs to grow further to other areas and parts of the world.

There are factors that contributed to the international standing of the AFM. The first factor alludes to people who were from the region of southern Africa and worked in South Africa. Majority of these migrant workers worked in the cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town. These workers later became the members of the AFM and helped the AFM to grow in their home countries upon their return. The second factor refers to South African missionaries who preached throughout the southern African region and the whole of the continent of Africa. These missionaries started AFM branches wherever they preached the gospel. The last factor is that in the 1990s, there was an opening for South African missionaries to do mission outside South Africa. This meant that the gospel could now spread to Europe, America, Asia and other parts of the globe (see Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa 2019). The challenge for the AFM international is the new waves of Pentecostalism like the prophetic movements that keep on growing. The main question remains the representation of women in the structures of the AFM even on an international level.


Historical development of women's role in the Apostolic Faith Mission

The historical developments of women's role in the AFM are well captured by De Wet (1989) who asserts that woman workers:

[F]ormed an important part of the AFM's task force during the early years. A large part of the dynamic growth of the Pentecostal Movement is due to its ability since its inception to mobilize and effectively deploy women into missionary service. White women in the AFM were ordained for fulltime work. (p. 86)

In 1910, the white Executive Council (EC) allowing black women as local preachers passed a resolution. In that capacity, they could also be ordained. However, this was at a local assembly level not at a higher leadership level. Women were only used as missionary workers and could not take influential positions in the EC. Black women could not be recognised as full-time pastors but only as workers in local assemblies of AFM. However, it must be noted that the early AFM provided certificates for workers, evangelists, pastors and missionaries whose work showed their abilities, and women were issued certificates in all areas. The issue remains that women could become workers but not necessarily taking up leadership roles. The large numbers of these women were black women.

The women who tried to rise were dismissed from the church. For example, according to Burger and Nel (2008:107), 'Maria Fraser was dismissed when she developed the conviction that the church was spiritually "cooling down" and that sins were on the increase'. The AFM saw it fit to dismiss Fraser mainly because her prophecies were not proper. Nonetheless, the AFM could have looked for other alternative ways of addressing Fraser's erroneous doctrinal practices than to just dismiss her. Another according to Burger and Nel (2008:107) is Christinah Nku who was dismissed when the church 'objected to some of her more elaborate displays of prophetic rapture'. Nku was more practical in her application of divine healing because she could use various healing products to pray for believers who were sick. This practice is acceptable in indigenous churches and among black people. However, classical Pentecostalism could not stand Nku's practices and they dismissed her. In both instances, it shows that the AFM was biased when it comes to women leadership. There are male counterparts who committed more sins than Maria Fraser and Christinah Nku but were never dismissed from the church. On the contrary, both Maria Fraser and Christinah Nku were right in their call for a holy and contextual liturgy, respectively.


Misrepresentations of women in the leadership structures of the Apostolic Faith Mission

Misrepresentations in local assemblies

The AFM has 2400 ordained pastors - of which a substantial (and growing) number represents women. The number of ordained women pastors has grown over the years and currently sits at 300. Most of them are not leading assemblies. An increasing number are, however, co-pastors focusing on specific areas of ministries. Apart from the traditional pastoral tasks such as preaching, pastoral care, conducting of meetings and sacraments, pastors are principally expected to train and assist members for their ministries (Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa 2019). There are women pastors in the AFM taking up assemblies but the majority are assistant pastors or branch pastors. It must be noted that the category of assistant pastor does not exist in the constitution of the AFM but most big assemblies are using it. Otherwise, women in the AFM continue to occupy positions in the departments of local assemblies, and others play a supportive role to their husbands as pastor's wives. It must be noted that many women are not presiding pastors; although they are ordained, they do not receive a call to preside over local assemblies like their male counterpart. The researcher has studied with few women during seminary and undergraduate studies. However, a majority of these women have undertaken secular jobs, while others remain as pastor's wives.

Misrepresentations in Regional Leadership Forum

There are about 10 regional leaders in non-geographic regions and none of them is a woman. There are about 33 regional leaders in the geographic regions of the AFM, and once again, there is no woman leader in these regions (Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa 2019). There was a regional chair in the person of Pastor Antoinette Erasmus, who in a way was the first regional chair but had to vacate the position because of age. Even in the position of secretary of the region, one seldom finds a woman leader there. The regional leaders automatically form part of the NLF. This implies that the chances of women to take part in the NLF are very slim. The only way for women to be part of NLF is to be elected as the regional chairpersons. The only women representative at this level is Mrs Mahlobo who is only there because she is the leader of the women fellowship. This challenge is again caused by a lack of women representatives at a local level, which then escalate to the region, and ultimately the national level. This challenge actually emanates from the theological training level because if women do not graduate from theological training, they cannot become ordained ministers.

Misrepresentations in National Office Bearers

The misrepresentations of women at NOB level are historical and very persistent. The reason for this assertion is that there has never been a woman in the NOB of the AFM since unity in 1996. The current NOBs are Pastor M.G. Mahlobo as the president, Dr L.P. LaPoorta as his deputy, Pastor H.J. Weidemann as general secretary and Pastor Barend Petersen as general treasurer. What is surprising is that women are a majority in the church and other sectors of society but they fail to make it in the high echelons of power in the AFM. It is also surprising that for many years, the pattern has not changed in the NOB. Is it because women cannot lead or they do not want to lead or are they made to think that they cannot be leaders? While one ponders on the questions, it is certain that women can lead because they are already leading in other sectors of the society. We can take, for example, in academia, Prof. Kgethi Phakeng, the vice chancellor of University of Cape Town, and Prof. de la Rey, the former vice chancellor of University of Pretoria. In politics, women lead in parliament and hold various cabinet ministerial positions. Nkosezana Dlamini Zuma has led at a continental level, and Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka is leading at an international level.

Misrepresentations in Apostolic Faith Mission International

Equally so, there has never been a woman leader or office bearer in the AFMI. The AFMI is not an old leadership structure but this cannot be an excuse for not having a woman in the structure. The current president of the AFMI is Pastor Frank Chikane. Dr Aspher Madziyire is the deputy president, Pastor George Mahlobo is the general secretary and Pastor Jobe Repent Koosimile is the treasurer. Women on these platforms only serve as administrators and personal assistants. The church can become a good opportunity to become a model to the world if or when women move from Personal Assistant (PA) positions to become leaders of society. It remains a question to know who will succeed the ageing Chikane. Will it be a woman or another man? It might take years for one woman to reach the level of leading the AFM at an international level, especially if there are still misrepresentations at local, regional and national levels. If such a dream were to come true, it should at least start at a local assembly level into a regional level, national level and then move to an international level. If this is not done, the AFMI will remain a male-dominated territory in terms of its leadership.

The rationale behind misrepresentations

The first rationale identified in this article is patriarchy. In the words of Kobo (2018):

The exploitation of women even in the church today is undeniable! While they are marginalised from leadership positions and remain powerless in decision making processes, their contribution in church and in Society continues to be exploited. (p. 3)

In another article, Kobo (2013) says that:

[E]ven though they are now in leadership, they still feel obliged to being submissive to men, with a pure understanding that a man is the head. Women have been oppressed and dehumanised by the patriarchal system. (p. 6)

Therefore, according to Kobo, the struggle to challenge the patriarchal culture of subordination is still pertinent for our context today. This is because even when women occupy leadership positions in church, tensions arise (Kobo 2018:3). According to Ackermann (1991:95), patriarchy means 'the legal, economic and social system that validates and enforces the sovereignty of the male head of the family over its other members'. These members in classical patriarchal systems were the wives, children, servants and slaves. Today, patriarchy describes the male-dominated world that we live in. The patriarchal system is the phenomenon that is found in many cultures worldwide and has been influential in many aspects of human life. This patriarchal culture does not recognise the full humanity of women in churches and in societies (Selokela 2005). Patriarchy in the words of Andrew (2005) is:

[T]he exclusion and domination of women, by the sins of sexism and patriarchy in the structures of church and society, undermine their freedom to share their gifts and ministries with the local and the universal church. (p. 34)

The missionaries of the AFM made women to believe that leadership positions are only for men. Women pastors were given a wrong title (Full Time Lady Worker) after their graduation from the Bible College because the church had a policy that was designed by the missionaries that said women could not lead. This was in line with the Western Christianity of the time and with African cultural interpretation of the role of women (Selokela 2005:63). This meant that even after ordination, women could not take up positions as full-time pastors of the church but remained workers. It is the same trend today - women are ordained but do not lead assemblies at the rate of their ordination. However, it must be acknowledged that there are few presiding pastors in the AFM who are women. Furthermore, participation of women is limited to certain roles prescribed by this male-dominated denomination. In some instances, women pastors are taken as window dressing in this church, so that the church should be politically correct by allowing women to be in leadership and be allowed to preach (Selokela 2005:4). Men are intentionally competing women in the church. Consequently, women are left powerless and hopeless, as they are not able to compete with these men. They are left with no choice but to relent and maintain the status quo.

The second rationale is the Pauline prohibition of women. Men like to use the Pauline prohibition of women in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 to force women into keeping quiet in church and to ensure that they always submit to their male counterpart. They use Paul to undermine the capabilities and abilities of women to lead society. They therefore say that women should never address men, instead they should remain silent. This kind of belief causes women to always remain inferior. It also causes women to remain submissive even when they are involved in abuse relationships. Women are seen as the ones who sinned because it was Eve that allowed the snake in the Garden of Eden and was actually the first one to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. The only thing that most men or at least those who hold this view of women prohibition see well about women is that women are good for giving birth to children. They see women as the people who must stay behind their husbands in a supportive role. As the saying goes, 'wherever there is a successful man, there is a woman behind him'. They do not see that woman next to him.


Creating gender equality in Pentecostal leadership

The role of women

It might sound arrogant and disempowering but the way to create gender equality in the AFM and Pentecostal leadership is to start with women themselves. Women have the ability to make a difference in their lives, rising above oppressive systems towards their own liberation, for they are the ones who know the pain of being oppressed. Oppression does not lie in the eye of the beholder; it tugs at the soul of the one who feels it. This implies that unless women do something about this oppressive structure, they will forever live in oppression. The power for the emancipation and empowerment of women lies within them and no one else. There is a need for women to rise and fight their own battles. Women have done it before in fighting the powers that oppressed them and forced the powers that be to listen to them. Therefore, the view here is that women can do it again, but this time it is not about the oppressor in the government but about the oppressor inside the four pillars of the temple. Women can empower one another to become leaders of the society, especially the church. Since well, they are a majority in many aspects, and they should use that to their advantage.

What should be considered then is that if women were primary participants in the deliverance of Israel from their oppressors. Women should look at examples of women in a leadership position like Deborah. For as the Book of Judges 4 says:

Deborah a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. (pp. 4-5)

Deborah was a prophet and she was able to exercise spiritual and political leadership. This is a very good example to show that God can use women to lead. It is still right for them in the AFM church to participate fully in the leadership of the church. It has happened in the history of Israel, and it is still happening today. This is to say that God can call a man or a woman to do the same job, which is of the same value before God. In view of this, we can authoritatively assert that no one is weaker than the other. After all, women continue to do jobs that were previously done by men like in engineering and construction. The same can be performed in church, leadership roles are not for men only; both men and women can lead assemblies and other structures in society.

Disarming patriarchy

The AFM church should look at its patriarchal structure as a sin, confess it and subsequently discard it - as a result, they should be able to accept women's humanity as they are placed in their rightful positions of leadership in the church and the society as a whole. Seen in this way, the church should correctly view patriarchy as a deviation from God's plan and against the mission of God. This will lead to a healthy community where all experience the love of God as the true image of God (Selokela 2005:57). Andrew (2005) asserts that:

The question that needs to be addressed is whether the structures of the AFM really create the freedom and opportunities for women to live out their ministries and share their gifts in the same manner as males. (p. 36)

There should be deliberate ways in which the AFM seeks to transform their leadership by including women in their structures. Women with abilities should be identified by the leaders and should be groomed to take over the high reigns in the church. It is not an excuse that women are faced with challenges like pregnancy and child care. These challenges can be addressed and other people should be appointed to support women facing such challenges.

Rethinking Pauline prohibition of women

Paul's prohibition of women participation in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 should not be used to discourage women from teaching, leading and addressing men in the church but should be understood in the historical context of him trying to address the issue of order in worship. In fact, the text should be seen more as a way trying to protect women in this context because they have been a soft target of those who want to exploit them for their own benefit of making the church disorderly. Moreover, 1 Timothy 2:11-15 should be read with other text. For example, when reading Galatians 3:28, 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus' and other Pauline letters, it is very much clear that Paul encouraged the participation of women. Paul actually encourages equality. Paul worked with women in ministry. Although Aquila and Priscilla were a couple, Paul seems to be more acknowledging Priscilla over Aquila her husband. Other women acknowledged by Paul include Eudia and Syntyche whom Paul refers to as his fellow workers in the gospel. Thus, from these supporting texts, it can be seen that Paul was not opposed to women leadership if he himself was able to work with them.

In the gospels, Jesus allowed women to do everything even though his disciples were not comfortable with it. This is evidenced by their astonishment when they found him discussing theological matters with the Samaritan woman in John 4:27, ' and they were greatly surprised to find Him talking with a woman'. They could not imagine a Jewish rabbi' speaking to a woman whom they considered evil. Despite all that, Jesus treated women in a remarkable way. He allowed them to sit at his feet. He allowed them to participate in the ministry. Jesus was involved with women until his last day in this world - that is, even after resurrection. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus baptised the women exactly like the men, and for the exact same purpose as the men are baptised (De Wet 1989:85). Before Jesus ascended to heaven, holy anointing oil had never been poured on women's head: but before he organised his church, he called them all into the upper room, both men and women, anointed them with the oil of the Holy Ghost, thus qualifying them all to minister in this gospel. On the day of Pentecost, they all preached through the power of the Holy Ghost. In Christ, there is neither male nor female, all are one (Andrew 2005:36).

Rethinking elections

It is good for the members of the AFM to exercise their democratic right to vote for the leaders of their choice in the various leaderships of the AFM such as the RLF, NLF, NOB and even the AFMI. But if the same people will be voted for over and again because they are masculine, there is a need to change this trend. Therefore, in order to effect such a change, the church needs to ask herself a bold question: Is it not high time that if the AFM is serious about transformation should consider rethinking elections? Although it is very democratic, it seems that the current election system is recycling the leaders that are already in the minds of the voters when it comes to the elections. Maybe is high time that the church introduces an alternative in order to have a woman leader in the structures of the AFM. This can be performed even if it means that the nominated woman leader becomes non-executive. If this is not deliberately performed, it will take years before having a woman in the high echelons of the leadership structures of the AFM. Instead, the status quo will remain in the AFM, that is, a continuation of masculine leadership.

Lessons from Richard Ngidi

The ministry of Ngidi included women especially at leadership level. De Wet (1989) mentions that:

Ngidi was the first to effectively use black women-workers with 30 well trained women-workers under his supervision, several new assemblies were established. The AFM in Natal became known as 'the Church of Ngidi' because of the impact of his ministry and leadership in Natal. (p. 141)

The women were supported mainly by freewill offerings taken at conferences in Natal. There were no statutory contributions that could be used, because this was a novel idea in the AFM. These women became a force in the AFM in Natal, fanning revival fires in many regions (Burger & Nel 2008:258). To Ngidi, women were not just 'assistants' in the ministry of evangelism. He accorded them full status of ministry even long before the AFM could think about ordaining women. These women would at times conduct gospel crusades alone. They were requested to go to rural places to establish congregations. Under Ngidi's supervision and protection, these women gave their all for the extension of the kingdom of God. These women would start an assembly and Ngidi would come and receive the new converts into fellowship (Khathide 2010:111).



Gender dimensions in Pentecostal leadership deserve a more serious scholarly attention in future. There is a need therefore for studies that will empirically assess the representations of women in the leadership structures of the AFM. Such a study will benefit from the voices of women, especially those aspiring to become leaders at any level in the leadership of the AFM. Nonetheless, the achievement of this article must be acknowledged. One, the article was able to identify the dynamics around the absence of women representations in the structures of the AFM. The article found that women have been oppressed and dehumanised by the patriarchal system. Women have been seen as irresponsible people who are unable to take care of themselves. In addition, the missionaries of the AFM church made women to believe that leadership positions are only for men. Secondly, the article was able to make suggestion on how to change women representation in Pentecostal leadership. Women should take the responsibility to make a difference in their lives, rising above oppressive systems towards their own liberation, for they are the ones who know the pain of being oppressed. Consequently, the AFM church should look at its patriarchal structure as a sin, confess it and subsequently discard it. The AFM should rethink the Pauline prohibition of women and rethink elections if their drive for transformation is deliberative. The AFM should learn from their own in the person of Richard Ngidi, who empowered women at all cost.



Competing interests

The author declares that no competing interests exist.

Authors' contributions

I declare that I am the sole author of this research article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for a research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This study was financially supported by the University of South Africa.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.



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De Wet, C.R., 1989, 'The Apostolic Faith Mission in Africa: 1908-1980. A case study in church growth in a segregated society', Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.         [ Links ]

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Kobo, F.A., 2013, 'If I only touch His clothes, I will be healed': A reading of Mark 5 v 21-34 by women who seek to name and reclaim their place in society and in the ministry of Jesus. A cry to God of life, National Council of Churches, Washington.         [ Links ]

Kobo, F.A., 2018, 'A womanist exposition of pseudo-spirituality and the cry of an oppressed African woman', HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 74(1), 4896.        [ Links ]

Lapoorta, J.J., 1996, Unity or division? The unity struggle of the black churches within the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, Department of Religious Studies, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Cape Town.         [ Links ]

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Mookgo Kgatle

Received: 06 Feb. 2019
Accepted: 06 June 2019
Published: 22 Oct. 2019



 The author would like to thank the Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology for the support provided in conducting this research.

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A sixfold biblical approach to social transformation in the local community in terms of the ELIJAH model: A challenge for today's church



Noel WoodbridgeI; Shaun JoyntII, III

ISouth African Theological Seminary, Bryanston, Sandton, South Africa
IIDepartment of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
IIIDepartment of Practical Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa





Since its inception, the Christian church has been involved in social transformation, especially when it has sided with the poor and the oppressed. Despite losing its focus from time to time, throughout church history, it has mostly managed to adhere to its missional responsibility. Given the increasing poverty, violence and injustices in today's world, more than ever the Christian church is called upon to engage in and continue with its task of being an agent of social transformation. Its calling is to fulfil the biblical imperative to proclaim the kingdom of God and make disciples of all nations, which includes promoting social justice in the local community. The aim of this article is to ground and describe a sixfold biblical approach, which the Church can implement to promote social transformation in the local community in terms of the ELIJAH model, namely, the Equality Approach, the Legislative Approach, the Incarnation Approach, the Justice Approach, the Apportionment Approach and the Holistic Approach.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The research offers a biblical approach for consideration concerning social transformation and its implementation within the contemporary local congregation, namely, the ELIJAH model, resulting in a practical theological and sociological dialogue.

Keywords: social justice; social transformation; ELIJAH model; church; community; practical theology.




Since its inception, the Christian church has been involved in social transformation (De Santa Ana 1981; McNeal 2009:xxiii, xiv; Pillay 2017:1), especially when it has sided with the poor and the oppressed, yet at times, it has lost its focus (Ndukwe 2008:2; Pillay 2017:11). However, throughout church history, it has managed to by and large adhere to its missional responsibility (De Santa Ana 1979; Pillay 2017):

Today, more than ever, given the increasing poverty, violence and injustices in the world, the Christian church is called upon to embrace, engage and continue with its task of being an agent for transformation and change. It needs to fulfil the gospel imperative of making the world a better place for all to live with justice, peace and harmony. (Pillay 2017:11)

The aim of this article is to describe a sixfold biblical approach, which the local church can implement to promote social transformation in the local community in terms of the ELIJAH model, namely, the Equality Approach, the Legislative Approach, the Incarnation Approach, the Justice Approach, the Apportionment Approach and the Holistic Approach.


The ELIJAH model: A Christian perspective

A biblical grounding of the ELIJAH model

As a sixfold biblical approach for helping the local church in promoting social transformation in the local community, the authors propose the ELIJAH model comprising six components, each of which can be scripturally grounded as follows:

  • The Equality Approach - The following Scriptures show that everyone is equal before God; this implies that the rights of the poor need to be guarded: 'Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all' (Pr 22:2, NIV) and 'So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them' (Gn 1:27, NIV).

  • The Legislative Approach - The last six of the Ten Commandments show that God provides good moral laws to prevent social injustice:

  • And God spoke all these words: 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor'. (Ex 20:1, 12-17, NIV)

  • The Incarnation Approach - The following biblical passage demonstrates the importance of the Incarnation Approach to social transformation, which promotes radical identification and servant leadership:

  • Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Ph 2:5-8, NKJV)

  • The Justice Approach - The following scriptural passage demonstrates that justice is important to God and that his people should engage in social issues such as poverty and injustice:

  • I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Am 5:21-24, ESV)

  • The Apportionment Approach - The following Scriptures illustrate the Apportionment Approach meant to eliminate poverty by sharing: 'All the believers were together and had everything in common' (Ac 2:44, NIV) and 'they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need' (Ac 2:45, NIV).

  • The Holistic Approach - The following biblical passage demonstrates a holistic approach to social transformation, which integrates evangelism with social action. Speaking of himself, Jesus indicated that his task on earth and by implication the task of the Church is twofold, namely, to preach the Gospel (good news) and to mend broken lives:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (Lk 4:18-19, ESV)

The influence of Bellingham's training manual

The authors were influenced by Bellingham's (1987) training manual, entitled A Biblical Approach to Social Transformation. It provides an overview of the guidance the Bible gives for engagement in ministries of service and justice and serves as the basic source of the ELIJAH model. In his training manual, Bellingham includes 20 biblical approaches to social transformation from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The authors have selected six of these approaches and included them in the ELIJAH model. The authors selected the six approaches because they were deemed to constitute the main approaches to social transformation. At the very least, they could be regarded as a representative sample of Bellingham's 20 biblical approaches to social transformation.

The connection between the ELIJAH model and the prophet Elijah

The ELIJAH model is a fitting name for a model that seeks to promote social transformation in the local community because it was during his ministry that Elijah criticised the apostate reigns of Ahab and (later) his son, Ahaziah. His criticism is particularly seen in the matter relating to Naboth's vineyard (1 Ki 21), when Elijah stood for social justice and the rights of small landholders against royal prerogative. Throughout his ministry, Elijah cured the sick, enriched the poor and promoted social justice and welfare. The authors hope that the members of the local church will be able to use the sixfold biblical approach, as portrayed in the ELIJAH model, to promote social transformation in the local community.

The Equality Approach (Guarding the rights of the poor)

Throughout the ages, the Church has been challenged to minister to the poor (De Santa Ana 1979; Pillay 2017:11). This challenge has not disappeared. Currently in South Africa, we as Christians are called upon by God to respond to the cry of the poor (Mathole 2005:4).

The books of Proverbs, Psalms and the Prophets share many themes regarding social justice, with Proverbs focussing more on the dangers of the wealthy (Robinson 2014):

The wicked or unrighteous have no understanding of the rights of the poor (Pr 29:7). A King who oppresses his people is like a beating rain that leaves no food (Pr 28:3), akin to a natural disaster. This wicked ruler is also called a predator (Pr 28:15). (n.p.)

Washington (1994:142) argues that Proverbs reflects a heightened awareness of the poor in society. More specifically, Robinson (2014) demonstrates how Proverbs provides the simple guideline that everybody is equal before God, irrespective of their social position: 'Rich and poor have this in common; The Lord is the Maker of them all' (Pr 22:2, NIV). This aligns with the Genesis account stating that all of humankind are made in the image of God: 'So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them' (Gn 1:27, NIV). In view of this biblical principle, oppressors and mockers of the poor not only harm the poor but they also insult God: 'Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God' (Pr 14:31, NIV) (Robinson 2014).

In contrast to unrighteous oppressors, Proverbs also describes people who are righteous, as opposed to the unrighteous oppressors (Robinson 2014):

The righteous are concerned with justice, they are generous (Pr 22:9), they know the rights of the poor (Pr 29:7) and how to defend them, they open their hands to the poor and reach out to the needy (Pr 31:20). Rulers are tasked with the mission of speaking out, judging righteously, and defending the rights of the poor and needy (Pr 31:9). (n.p.)

Contemporary Evangelicalism appears to espouse a greater concern for spiritual matters than for the material condition of people (Chester 1993:69, 73). For this reason, one of the most urgent questions that need to be addressed by the Evangelical Church, within a climate of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, is (Harold 2011):

How can the Evangelical become the voice of the poor? The concern for the weak and vulnerable was first and foremost in the mind that produced the words of the wise in Proverbs. (pp. 56-57)

A parallel approach that considers the material and the spiritual simultaneously would address both needs without overemphasising one over the other, thus preventing a 'pendulum effect' of being socially just at the cost of preaching the gospel or being evangelistic at the cost of social justice.

The above point (dual attention to the spiritual and the material) may be illustrated by the following example. Tswelopele Step by Step, founded on 09 March 2003 by Colin and Denise Dredge, then members of Hatfield Christian Church, a Charismatic megachurch in the east of Pretoria, is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that focusses on the homeless. The Dredges had observed homeless people drifting from concentrated city centres to urban residential suburbs and sought to invest themselves in one such community within the area they lived while avoiding 'the pitfall of creating dependence or institutionalising the poor' (Tswelopele Step by Step 2018:1). They learnt from the community, created interventions, tested these, received feedback from the community and repeated the process - thus the 'step by step' approach of Tswelopele was born. By 2009, they became aware of the informal settlement adjacent to Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk [Dutch Reformed Church - DRC] in Moreleta Park, a megachurch in the east of Pretoria, and moved their street outreach programme to this community.

Prior to their work at this informal settlement known as Woodlane Village or Plastic View, they (Tswelopele Step by Step 2018) assisted:

  • in relocating the terminally ill back to their families or into hospices so that they could die with dignity

  • people wherever possible to apply for South African ID documents

  • the elderly in applying for Older Persons' Grants and wherever possible reuniting them with their families

  • the elderly who could or would not go back to their families with placement into old age homes

  • with arranging the placement of children at risk by means of social workers

  • linking people to employment and/or training opportunities

  • teaching life skills classes, basic literacy, English, Afrikaans, food garden development, hand crafts and Bible studies (the Dredges had started with life skills and the rest of the classes were requested by the people themselves)

  • in ongoing advocacy on behalf of the street and veld [field] dwellers in their area.

Tswelopele Step by Step serves as one example of how both individuals and the local church can be involved in guarding the rights of the poor, namely, the Equality Approach of the ELIJAH model.

The Legislative Approach (advocating good moral laws to prevent social injustice)

'The maintenance of social justice within a society depends largely on the fairness and strength of its legal system' (Markl 2011:n.p.). One of the chief causes of poverty and social injustice in today's world is corruption, which is a violation of the legal and moral framework of a society (Markl 2011).

Regarding the biblical legal system, God himself is the supreme example of a just judge (Ps 9:5). Numerous psalms praise him as such: 'He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord' (Ps 33:5). 'Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains; your judgments are like the great deep' (Ps 36:6). 'He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday' (Ps 37:6) (Markl 2011).

The body of Ten Commandments is the heart of the Old Testament law. God revealed these laws to Moses after he had brought the Israelites out of Egypt and before they entered the Promised Land. The first instruction in the Ten Commandments can be summarised as follows: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength' (Dt 6:51). The last six laws in the Ten Commandments define the meaning of these moral and social laws. They remain relevant for today because they deal with the following key areas of conduct (Bellingham 1987):

  • Obligations to parents - honour father and mother

  • Value of life - no murder

  • Sanctity of marriage - no adultery

  • Rights of private property - no stealing

  • False testimony - no lying

  • Undisciplined desire - no coveting. (p. 142)

The Church has a moral duty to use its voice to influence the legislative process. For example (Dobson 2010):

Legislation to criminalize the buyers of sex services could be another useful tool in the fight against human trafficking, and the Church can and should lobby government for the enactment of such legislation, which has proven to be extremely effective in Sweden. (n.p.)

In his study, Singh (2016:vi) found that in post-apartheid South Africa, the Evangelical Church seems to have found its voice in relation to 'legislation pertaining to sexual and moral ethics, such as abortion, homosexuality and corruption'. Regarding the advocacy work of Evangelical organisations, Singh (2016:83) found the evangelical community to be 'robust and determined in its engagement with social, legal and theological debates related to the Sexual Offences Act of 2007'.

However, within the South African context, Kuperus (2011) observed a diminished legal advocacy by the church in general since the de-legislation of apartheid. Kuperus (2011) considers four main role-players in the post-apartheid dispensation, namely, the DRC, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Rhema (a Charismatic megachurch located in Johannesburg) and the Zionist Christian Church (ZCC) representing the African Independent Churches (AICs). She contends that the DRC no longer has the political platform or the credibility to speak out on sociopolitical issues (Kuperus 2011:286), that the SACC has diminished political influence as a religious actor concerning the African National Congress government (Kuperus 2011:295), that Rhema's 'ability to actually nurture democracy is limited' because of its 'largely white and middle-class' composition (Kuperus 2011:298) and that AICs have maintained their 'apolitical' stance concerning the government, namely, remaining nationally aloof, although 'many scholars have argued that the strength of the ZCC (and other AICs) is its influence on society "from below"' (Kuperus 2011:300-301). Kuperus (2011:305) recommends that these churches and religious bodies should continue with (1) 'maintaining a critical, independent voice vis-à-vis the government', (2) 'developing sound principles of political engagement', (3) 'building ecumenical bridges in public affairs discourse' and (4) 'affirming the public role of theology'.

Christian churches clearly have a critical role to play in the legislation process in South Africa during the 21st century, especially pertaining to sexual and moral ethics, such as abortion, homosexuality and corruption. The authors therefore recommend that Kuperus' four broad aims relating to the role of the church and religious bodies in legal advocacy should be implemented by means of, among others, publishing editorials in newspapers, petitions, engaging in media debates and more.

The Incarnation approach (radical identification)

For Jesus, the Son of God, the incarnation meant stepping down to experience human life. What did Jesus relinquish? The biblical evidence gives a clear picture:

  • At his birth. 'And they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe [Jesus] lying in a manger' (Lk 2:16).

  • In his ministry. 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air their nests, but the son of Man has nowhere to lay his head' (Mt 8:20).

  • At his death. 'They stripped Him and planted a crown of thorns on His head and mocked Him' (Mt 27:28-29) and 'They led Him to a place called Golgotha and crucified Him' (Mt 27:33).

  • Paul's account of his humiliation. 'Though He was rich yet for your sakes He became poor' (2 Cor 8:9):

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Moreover, being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Ph 2:5-8)

Christians today cannot do what Jesus did in terms of incarnation, but they are called upon to reflect his attitudes and priorities. Moreau, Corwin and McGee (2004) describe incarnational mission as follows:

Just as Christ was incarnated as a person, so missionaries need to incarnate themselves into a new context. They cannot become newborns, but they can learn the language and culture of their new context in such a way that they can behave like one who was born in that context. (p. 12)

The incarnation demonstrates God's great commitment to all of humanity, to live among us and to die on our behalf. But Jesus' very humanity means that God, ironically, has shown us by his own example how to be human. Our faith in Jesus includes a calling to be Christ-like, 'to walk just as He walked' (1 Jn 2:6). This implies, among other things, a similar commitment to be with people, to be present, available to be used by God (O'Callaghan 2009).

Basing his view on John 20:21, John Stott (cited by Chester 1993:73) suggests that 'the pattern for mission laid down by Jesus is one of service and incarnation', seeing both evangelism and social action as 'authentic expressions of the love that serves'. Social action is therefore incarnational, because it is the consequence of evangelism (an active response to the Word/the Gospel). James confirms that the Word becomes 'alive' through works (Ja 2:15-16). For James, any faith without works is dead (Ja 2:17).

The example of Jesus fundamentally calls upon Christians to become missional-incarnational agents of healing and restoration, bringing light where there is darkness, life where there is death, meaning where all meaning is lost and hope where there is no hope (Campbell 2005:183). It is often in the context of loss, brokenness, crisis and disorientation that the need for alternative narratives is born and in which we can make a radical missional and restorative impact in the world for the Gospel is in essence, a message of healing, restoration and reconciliation (Mt 10; Lk 7:22; see also Jn 12:40; Jr 6:10; see also Kok 2008:108-109).

The organisation Diversity Dialogues, started in 2016 by Vera Marbach and based in South Africa, provides an 'opportunity for people to use the incarnational approach if they step into someone else's voice' (Marbach 2018:pers. comm.). Marbach (2018:pers. comm.) states that:

A Diversity Dialogue is not about solving all the problems South Africa experiences. It is not a quick fix. It is about connecting more deeply with each other as the body of Christ, really listening to each other and sharing of ourselves on a deeper level than what we do in our regular conversations, which often tend to be more superficial. As believers, we think it would be wonderful if the church could play a role in improving racial relationships and understanding and addressing the hidden toxicity that often underlies our interactions. Loving our neighbour starts with listening to and understanding our neighbour better and we see these dialogues as an opportunity to do so.

The process involves a number of steps over a four hour period, namely: (1) an introduction; (2) agreements and tips for participation; (3) choosing and voting for a topic; (4) dreaming about what South Africa would be like if that topic was not an issue; (5) establishing voices or points of view that will serve as starting points to the dialogue; (6) the actual dialogue; (7) a time of harvesting insights [that have been] gained or ways [participants] have changed during the process; (8) actions and accountabilities - how [participants] take this new understanding [they] have gained into [their] own space in a practical way; and (9) a closing ceremony (Marbach 2018:pers. comm.).

The organisation Diversity Dialogues serves as one example of how both individuals and the local church can be involved in radical identification, albeit merely starting with identifying with the voice of the other, namely, the Incarnational Approach of the ELIJAH model. It is this incarnational identification with the voice of the other that may prove to be a useful start in a local congregation's attempts at social transformation within the very community it serves.

The Justice Approach (engaging in social issues of poverty and injustice)

After more than 20 years of democracy, 'South Africa is still battling with issues of poverty, inequality, unemployment and hunger' (Statistics South Africa 2013:22). The latest 2014 Ipsos poll research study, 'Pulse of the People', reflects this dire situation. In the Ipsos polls from 19 September to 24 October 2014, 3608 randomly selected adult South Africans were interviewed in their homes in their home language. They were asked: 'What are the most important issues or problems facing this country that the new government, elected in 2014, should address?' It should be noted that this was an open-ended question, and hence, the respondents were free to mention any problem or issue spontaneously. After the interviews had been completed, the results were coded into categories. The issue of 'unemployment/job creation/too few jobs' was the top priority for almost nine out of every ten South African adults (87%). Other key challenges facing the South African government identified by the respondents were poverty (59%) and crime (57%) (Ipsos 2015).

The above-mentioned issues are a challenge to the Christian church to provide social services to disadvantaged communities. On an international level, historically, churches have always played a key role in service delivery to the poor, the sick and the needy (Lidzén 2008:1-7). In Africa, the family has always been regarded as the primary caregiver. When Christianity came to the continent, this changed. Lidzén (2008:1) explains that 'the church adopted the role of a "surrogate family" and worked in close partnership with governments of the countries'.

The Pentateuch prescribes unconditional justice in the court: 'You shall not render an unjust judgment' (Lv 19:15); 'You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the Lord your God' (Lv 24:22). The Bible has much to say on the topic of injustice. God is clearly in favour of justice and against injustice. Proverbs 20:23 (NIV) states: 'The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him'. Throughout the Scripture, there are many verses that reveal God's distaste for injustice (2 Chr 19:7; Job 6:29; 11:14; Pr 16:8; Ezk 18:24; Rm 9:14).

God chose Israel to be his special nation. As such, he had special expectations of them. As God is holy, just, faithful and merciful (Is 6:3; Dt 7:9; 1 Jn 1:9), he expected his people to be holy, just, faithful and merciful (1 Pt 1:15-16; Lk 6:36; 1 Cor 4:1-2). However, the prophet Micah states that there are no righteous people, and there is no justice in the land (Mi 7:2). The judges accept bribes (Mi 7:3), the rulers oppress the poor (Mi 3:1-3), the prophets lead the people astray (Mi 3:5) and the priests are easily bought (Mi 3:11).

The prophets lash out unrelentingly against unjust laws and judges:

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey! (Is 10:1f)

Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground! Hate evil and love good and establish justice in the gate (Am 5:7, 15) (Markl 2011).

The prophet Amos calls for 'justice to roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream' (Am 5:24, NIV). Micah's message was like that of Amos, because both called upon Israel and Judah to repent. Micah threatened them of 'coming judgmsent if they refused to heed God's merciful warnings' (Andrews 2018). 'Micah speaks as though he is attending a court case where God is the plaintiff, the prosecutor and the judge, and Israel is the defendant' (Yilpet 2006:1055). 'Micah told them exactly what God wanted them to do' (Wiersbe 2006:1459):

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God. (Mi 6:8, NIV)

Taking its name from the above passage, the Micah Challenge is a 'global movement of Christian agencies, churches, groups and individuals that aims to encourage people to engage more with the global issues of poverty and injustice'. It has the following two aims (Micah Challenge 2018), namely, to motivate 'Christians from all backgrounds to show God's kindness and justice and to speak out against the injustice of poverty' and to equip 'Christians to campaign and urge decision makers to fulfill their promise to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on global poverty by 2015'.

In 2005, the Micah Network created a strategic partnership with the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) to form a global campaign to activate Christians against poverty (Micah Network 2019:About Micah Challenge), while in 2007 Micah Challenge South Africa mobilised in four key regions:

One event took place in an informal settlement where access to clean drinking water, unemployment and hunger as issues pertinent to the community were discussed. Follow up steps are being taken to tackle some of the commitments made by local council. Another event at a local clinic used \'Stand up'\ to draw attention to the lack of effective delivery regarding Voluntary Treatment and counselling services to the community. The campaign is keen to continue with these active citizenship activities. (World Evangelical Alliance 2007: Micah Challenge Update)

Engaging in social issues of poverty and injustice, namely, the Justice Approach of the ELIJAH model, is exemplified by organisations that have been described in two sections of this article: Tswelopele Step by Step (in the Equality Approach section) and the James 1:27 Trust (in the Apportionment Approach section).

The Apportionment Approach (eliminating poverty by sharing)

Many scholars have made perceptive comments concerning sharing in the scriptures. Costas (1979) summarises the New Testament position as:

The stress on poverty in the life and ministry of Jesus coincides with the social teaching of the Old Testament, where the poor occupy a privileged place, and with the poverty program of the early church with the special attention given to widows; with the concern for the poor of Jerusalem reflected in Paul's collection James' stern denunciation for the oppression of the poor by the rich in the church Luke stating: 'Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God'. (p. 77)

Acts 2 describes the final goal of the church in the process of eliminating poverty - 'no needy persons among us'. How did the early church achieve this? 'They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer' (Ac 2:42, NIV) and:

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (Ac 2:46-47, NIV)

It can be argued that the everyday togetherness of the church was not superficial. It was a daily commitment of a shared faith. It was in the context of being in everyday togetherness that 'they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need' (Ac 2:45, NIV), 'the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved' (Ac 2:47, NIV) and they eradicated poverty, 'All the believers were together and had everything in common' (Ac 2:44, NIV). Hence, there was no needy person among them.

What are signs of Christian answers to poverty today? What structures and actions have the potential to be signs of a new way of living? Is the goal of 'no needy person among us' a priority in the church? What proofs do Christians offer of changed beliefs and values?

A contemporary example of the church being involved in eliminating poverty by sharing is seen in the ministry of the James 1:27 Trust, founded by Robert Botha on 11 October 2004 and based on the scripture:

[P]ure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for widows and orphans in their troubles and refuse to let the world corrupt us' (Ja 1:27, NLT). (James 1:27 Trust 2018a:2)

Their vision is 'a crowdfunding service to connect caring organisations with potential donors and the development of world-class software and systems to strengthen the reach and effectiveness of their care' (James 1:27 Trust 2018b). They have three focus areas: James Care, James Social Market and James Agency Services. Through James Care, they provide direct holistic care to 20 children and youth and support organisations managing Orphan Child and Vulnerable Youth care through their online care management platform (James 1:27 Trust 2018a:6). Through James Social Market, they provide 'a fundraising channel for the holistic care of orphans, vulnerable children and youth, as well as other community care services' (James 1:27 Trust 2018a:6). Through James Agency Services, they provide 'financial, technical and other professional services to organisations managing care' (James 1:27 Trust 2018a:6). The James 1:27 Trust values of Christ-centredness, relationality, creativity, integrity, commitment and care drive their social justice focus and actions (James 1:27 Trust 2018c), while their 'dream is a society that cares for every person' (James 1:27 Trust 2018d), which they achieve through agency services, engaging with donors and care management.

Of particular interest is their idea of social insurance as (James 1:27 Trust 2018e):

[A] mechanism for channeling resources from resourced sectors of society to fund social development in areas of greater poverty. Social insurance is a means for individuals to mitigate against the risk of social upheaval and in so doing promote personal interests. (p. 10)

Their substantiation for this specific approach of social insurance is that (James 1:27 Trust 2018f):

South Africa remains at risk and we need a bold vision to rethink the issue of capital and the inequality gap within the country. We see the kingdom of God being located in this gap between the resourced and the poor. And we see ourselves as a servant of Christ in which we shift capital (social, human, financial, spiritual, etc.) from the resourced to the poor in order to address this. South Africa is standing at a critical juncture. We need to invest in mechanisms that address the imbalances in our society and respect the dignity and rights of all our citizens. South Africa's inequality may not simply be a problem but an opportunity, and one which could be addressed through innovation, social entrepreneurship and enterprise development. It requires collective action. It will, nevertheless, remain a dream without the necessary support to develop and build these systems. (n.p.)

By presenting social insurance to companies as an option to implement within their social transformation programmes and redress inequalities of the past, the James 1:27 Trust hopes to mitigate possible social unrest because of past social injustice.

Pieterse (2014:3) offers a statement constantly repeated by the participants in his survey of people living in poor communities in South Africa, namely, that 'when people reach out to the poor with help and assistance, they usually ascribe it in our society as coming from God'. The church has been tasked with both the privilege and responsibility of caring for the poor and in doing so shines its light before others, allowing them to see its good deeds and subsequently glorify God (Ma 5:16, NIV). In this way, the local church promotes the Apportionment Approach of the ELIJAH model, through its sharing and caring ministry to the poor.

The Holistic Approach (integrating evangelism with social action)

This approach is based on several statements that seek to explain the relationship between evangelism and social action. They are taken in historical order to help identify emerging convictions on this topic, although the statements come from different groups, contexts and theological traditions.

Tony Payne's (2008) six propositions on the biblical relationship between evangelism and social action are as follows:

  • Evangelism and social action are distinct activities.

  • Prayerful proclamation is central to the work of the Lord.

  • Evangelism and social action are inseparable.

  • Social action is unconditional love, not a tactic.

  • Social action is not a magic evangelistic bullet.

  • The Great Commission is to make and to teach.

It can be argued from Payne's six propositions that evangelism and social action should be regarded as equals, because if Christians served in social ministry, others would see their sacrificial service and hence respond to the gospel. In this regard, Walters (2019:1) indicates that it was during and after the Great Awakening that many great evangelical leaders pursued social concerns alongside the proclamation of the gospel. 'Men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, and their contemporaries were actively involved in social ministry' (Walters 2019:1). However, as a result of debates between fundamentalists and modernists during the late 19th century, division arose among Christians over the relationship between evangelism and social ministry. McGavran reacted strongly against efforts to elevate social action over the proclamation of the gospel. He firmly believed that while social ministries are an important part of church ministry, 'the Great Commission demands a focus on proclamation of the gospel, even in the face of social problems and injustices' (Walters 2019:1, 12).

Sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the World Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelism and Social Responsibility Report (Evangelism and Social Responsibility Report 1982) was written during the International Consultation on the Relationship between Evangelism and Social Responsibility, held at Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 19-25, 1982. The members involved in the consultation, the Drafting Committee, drafted the report. Rev. John Stott, the chairman of the Committee, was responsible for the final editing. The Evangelism and Social Responsibility Report (Evangelism and Social Responsibility Report 1982) states that there is not only one relationship linking evangelism and social responsibility but three kinds of relationships:

  • Firstly, social activity is a consequence of evangelism. That is, evangelism is the means by which God brings people to new birth, and their new life manifests itself in the service of others. Paul wrote that 'faith works through love' (Gl 5:6); James wrote that 'I will show you my faith by my works' (Ja 2:10). (p. 16)

  • Secondly, social activity can be a bridge to evangelism. It can break down prejudice and suspicion, open closed doors, and gain a hearing for the Gospel. Jesus Himself sometimes performed works of mercy before proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. (p. 17)

  • Thirdly, social activity accompanies it [evangelism] as its partner. They are like the two blades of a pair of scissors or the two wings of a bird. This partnership is clearly seen in the public ministry of Jesus, who not only preached the Gospel, but fed the hungry and healed the sick. In his ministry, kerygma (proclamation) and diakonia (service) went hand in hand. His words explained His works, and His works dramatized his words. (pp. 17-18)

Padilla (1984:19-20) in The Mission of the Church in the Light of the Kingdom of God sees the kingdom of God as not only including but integrating both evangelism and social responsibility. He concludes (Padilla 1984):

  • Both evangelism and social responsibility can only be understood in the light of the fact that in Jesus Christ the Kingdom of God has invaded History and is now both a present reality and a future hope, an 'already' and a 'not yet' Accordingly, [it is] God's redemptive power released in history bringing good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, and liberation for the oppressed. (p. 19)

  • Evangelism and social responsibility are inseparable. The Gospel is good news concerning the Kingdom of God. Good works are, on the other hand, the signs of the Kingdom, for which we were created in Christ Jesus. Both word and deed are inextricably united in the mission of Jesus and His apostles, and both must continue to be held together in the mission of the church in which Jesus' mission is prolonged, until the end of the age. (p. 19)

  • According to God's will, the church is called to manifest the Kingdom of God here and now in what she is as well as in what she proclaims. Because the Kingdom of God has already come and is yet to come, 'between the times' the church is both an eschatological and a historical reality. If she does not fully manifest the Kingdom, that is not because God's dynamic reign has invaded the present age 'without authority or the power of transforming it into the age to come, but because the consummation has not yet arrived'. (pp. 19-20)

  • Because of His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has been enthroned as Lord of the universe. The whole world, therefore, has been placed under His lordship. The Church anticipates the destiny of all mankind. Between the times, therefore, the church - the community which confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and through Him acknowledges God as 'both the Creator and the Judge of all men'. (p. 20)

Bellingham (1987) presents the following case study to illustrate this point:

There is a tribal area in Andhra Pradesh in India, where people were poor, cultivation and hunting their main occupation. They were also addicted to liquor. When the Gospel began to penetrate their villages, apart from changing their lives, it changed their whole life style and their standard of living improved considerably. Apart from basic medical help and teaching from the Bible, they received no other aid. A few years later amazingly the tribal Christians were dressed in lovely clothes and participated in a convention in a disciplined manner in sharp contrast to non-Christian tribal people all around. How did transformation of their social conditions take place without any material aid being given? When these people believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, they allowed God not only to transform their lives, but also their families and environment. This example indicates that Jesus Christ not only transforms one's life, but also one's social and economic conditions, if one is obedient to Him. (p. 358)

Another example of integrated evangelism and social action, namely, the Holistic Approach of the ELIJAH model, is observed through the DRC's study on services offered at the congregational level. Three areas of services were focussed upon: (1) poverty alleviation and reduction, (2) unemployment and (3) addressing social injustice (Van der Westhuizen & Swart 2015:743). Congregations focussed on the following: food (parcels and feeding schemes), clothing (including blankets), housing (a very small percentage were able to provide this), networks and education related to sourcing and securing employment (developing skills and a self-help attitude), emergency relief (payment of rent or electricity) and 'social injustices were addressed by congregations through awareness programmes, mobilisation of communities and encouragement of active citizenship' (Van der Westhuizen & Swart 2015:743-746). Both successes and challenges were experienced in these areas, and the authors of the study recommend that (1) congregations represent the 'voices' of the people (both congregation and community), (2) the focus of services on needs at the grassroots level address social injustices and (3) congregations strive to assist members to become active citizens (Van der Westhuizen & Swart 2015:748-751).



In this article, the authors have grounded and presented a sixfold biblical approach for helping the Church today to promote social transformation in the local community, in terms the ELIJAH model, which consists of the following components:

  • The Equality Approach: Guarding the rights of the poor

  • The Legislative Approach: Making good moral laws to prevent social injustice

  • The Incarnation Approach: Radical identification

  • The Justice Approach: Engaging in social issues of poverty and injustice

  • The Apportionment Approach: Eliminating poverty by sharing

  • The Holistic Approach: Integrating evangelism with social action

It is the hope of the authors that members of the local church will be able to use the sixfold biblical approach, as portrayed in the ELIJAH model, to promote social transformation in the local community.



This manuscript was presented in draft form as a conference paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Practical Theology in South Africa held from 16 to 18 January 2019 at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa. The authors thank Prof. E. Lemmer for a critical reading of the draft and Mrs T.M. Joynt for editing and proofreading.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this manuscript.

Authors' contributions

Both authors contributed equally to the writing of the manuscript.

Ethical considerations

Ethical clearance was unnecessary as there were no human or animal participants.

Funding information

No funding was used in the research and writing of this manuscript.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.



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Shaun Joynt

Received: 27 Feb. 2019
Accepted: 18 Apr. 2019
Published: 24 Oct. 2019

^rND^sHarold^nG.^rND^sKuperus^nT.^rND^sPillay^nJ.^rND^sVan der Westhuizen^nM.^rND^sSwart^nI.^rND^sYilpet^nY.^rND^1A01^nGift T.^sBaloyi^rND^1A01^nGift T.^sBaloyi^rND^1A01^nGift T^sBaloyi



An African woman's dilemma in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives: A bosadi perspective on the challenges and pains of infertility



Gift T. Baloyi

Department of Philosophy, Systematic and Practical Theology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa





This article deals with the predicament faced by an African woman in novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives. In this fascinating novel, Lola Shoneyin wrestles with several cultural pressures in marriage, which are also prevalent among black women in South African communities. The article grapples with dilemmas, challenges and unbearable pains of women who are often blamed for infertility in marriage, without a consideration of the fact that medical problems leading to infertility are non-discriminatory in nature. It argues that: (1) women's sexuality is viewed with a patriarchal prejudice; (2) the referral of infertile woman as worthless, which in essence reveals the quality of their inter-subjective relationship, depicts men as the agents and women as the objects in marriage; and (3) that the order of the African family unit is deeply constructed on gender lopsidedness. In the end, Masenya's notion of bosadi (womanhood) is employed to indicate the significance of the way in which a woman was created by God to be a fully active human.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: Even though this article is written from a practical theological point of view, its nature has implications for other disciplines in the area of social sciences. The article approaches the question of gender from multidisciplinary angles.

Keywords: African women; bosadi (womanhood); empathy; infertility; marriage; pastoral care; patriarchy; power dynamics.




Shoneyin's (2011) novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, narrates a family unit built on dishonesties and secrets, which kept the family together for a while. Although the novel relates a devastating secret in Baba Segi's polygamous house, the main focus in this article is on the trials faced by Bolanle (Baba Segi's fourth wife) and how she carried herself through it all. This novel is used as a case study in response to similar situations faced by many African women in different societies, especially in the South African context.

Empathy is employed as a guiding tool in unpacking Bolanle's challenges in her polygamous marriage. According to Riess (2017:74), 'empathy plays a critical interpersonal and societal role, enabling sharing of experiences, needs, and desires between individuals and providing an emotional bridge that promotes pro-social behaviour'. Empathy is defined as 'the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experience of others' (Gentry, Weber & Sadri 2007:2).

Empathy is fundamental in understanding people's experiences in professions such as psychology and pastoral care that involve helping others. People should be able to understand a situation as if they were personally experiencing such a situation, even when they would not be. The approach in this article is entirely empathic as encompassing both the cognitive and the affective domains. According to Strauss (2004; cf. Wlodarski 2015:232):

Empathy comes in different flavors. Psychologists have particularly distinguished cognitive from affective components of empathy. The cognitive aspect of empathy is awareness of another person's feelings; the affective aspect is an emotional reaction to another's feelings, in particular, 'an affective response more appropriate to [their] situation than to one's own. (Strauss 2004:434)

In other words, the affective component can be summarised as, 'I feel what you feel', and the cognitive component as, 'I understand what you feel' (Wlodarski 2015:232). This model helps one to be aware and to make sense of another person's feelings and experiences, which become prerequisites for a practical theological response. Empathy helps oneself to comprehend and experience sorrow through the sorrow of others. However, other scholars, such as Nussbaum (2001:327), remind us that it is not possible for one to become the same with the sufferer of pain. Nussbaum draws her argument from the idea of sympathy with understanding of the notion of empathy. She understands empathy to be that which 'involves a participatory enactment of the situation of the sufferer, but always combined with the awareness that one is not oneself as the sufferer' (Nussbaum 2001:328). Nussbaum in her argument on the concept highlights empathy as an essential ingredient of humanity and a necessity for social justice.

With such an aspect in mind, empathy encompasses the experience of being moved by, or responding in tune with, another person's experiences or feeling, and this reflects elements of pastoral care. This approach will help unpack the novel and connect with the realities of women on the ground.

Problem statement

In many (South) African communities, women are seen as objects in marriage, while their male counterparts are seen as agents. They are even blamed for challenges related to infertility because in such patriarchal communities, men cannot be infertile. It is as if there is a lot wrong with their wombs, without looking at the potential defects of manhood. That is the case, even though medical tests can reveal that it is not a woman who is infertile. This article therefore grapples with dilemmas, challenges and unbearable pains of women who are often blamed for infertility in marriage, without a consideration for the fact that medical problems leading to infertility are non-discriminatory in nature.

The scene behind the secret lives

In this fascinating novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives (2011), Lola Shoneyin deals with several African cultural pressures in marriage; although her text is located within the Yoruba of Nigeria, the challenges raised are prevalent in other societies (including South Africa) as well. Iya1 Segi, Iya Tope, Iya Femi and Bolanle are married to one man, Ishola Alao known as Baba Segi (this name shall be used throughout this work). As the opening section commences, we find that Baba Segi's youngest and the only formally educated wife, Bolanle (fourth spouse), is causing him worries through her alleged failure to conceive. Baba Segi is, after all, the father of seven children with his first three wives and because he is no slacker in his marital sexual obligations, something needs to be done to address Bolanle's condition. Bolanle scoffs at traditional healers and remedies, so his teacher (Baba Segi's celibate mentor) advises the troubled husband to take his modern, sceptical wife to the University Hospital for tests. This is the process that will in due course unleash a torrent of unforeseen consequences. Baba Segi is confident in his virility and stature as a patriarch.

The apparent barrenness of Bolanle, his beloved and educated fourth wife, causes him much concern. His three other wives had, unbeknownst to him, solved the problems of childbearing in their own unique, crafty ways. But Bolanle insists that she and her husband take a test. He learns that he is, indeed, not as virile as he had claimed. Baba Segi recalls the day they met; he thought to himself: the gods have sent her to me as his eyes rested on Bolanle's bosom. He had then asked her: 'Now that you and your friend have finished university, are you going to marry a man who will look after you?' And she had replied 'When I find one' (Shoneyin 2011:6). So, along the way, she does make it clear that she has made an honourable commitment in which she said: 'I chose this family to regain my life, to heal in anonymity', she says, 'and when you choose a family you stay with them'. However, her friends challenged her choice to marry in polygamous settings. However, in him, Bolanle saw 'a large but kindly, generous soul' (Shoneyin 2011:17) beyond being a polygamist.2 The most powerful of the spouses is Baba Segi's first wife, Iya Segi, whose daughter Segi is the eldest of the household's children. Iya Segi firmly believes that Bolanle 'wants our husband to cast us aside as the illiterate ones', but also that 'these educated types have thin skins' and that, if 'poke[d] [] with a stick, she will fly away and leave our home in peace' (Shoneyin 2011:52-53). Things come to a crisis on the morning when Baba Segi first takes the new wife (Bolanle) to the hospital for the fertility test. However, Iya Segi declares to the other two wives that 'she will destroy our home. She will expose our private parts to the wind. She will reveal our secret. She will bring woe' (Shoneyin 2011:55).

Because of this, a first serious attempt to expel Bolanle is immediately hatched (which brings the point of how innocent people suffer as compared with those who find their ways through crafty means). Despicable substances are planted around the house; the other wives claim to have discovered by good fortune that Bolanle was attempting to cast a fatal spell over Baba Segi's life. But Bolanle's calm logic disproves the false accusation. Moreover, the food had been poisoned in a plot by Iya Segi and Iya Femi to get rid of the detested Bolanle. Instead, it is Segi (the first wife's daughter) who lies on the floor in agony, her father on his knees beside her, pleading to the unconscious girl to 'tell the gods you want to stay here with me' (Shoneyin 2011:159). At this time, the medical investigators of Bolanle's apparent barrenness have invited Baba Segi to come in for a sperm test. Before they reveal the results to him, they ask him to bring one of his other wives to the hospital with him.

Profoundly shaken by her daughter's condition, Iya Segi volunteers to be the one at the hospital, and the doctor reveals to Baba Segi: the 'father' of seven children is, in fact, sterile. The news shatters him. At home that evening, deeply drunk, he denounces his unfaithful wives; in the midst of the dreadful scene, Segi releases her last breath. Just after the quick Muslim funeral, Baba Segi summons his wives and says: 'It is not every day, that a man finds out his children are not his own' (Shoneyin 2011:240). He tells them they are free to go. At this point, the bereaved and utterly chastened Iya Segi intervenes: 'Who is the father of the children?' she asks him (Shoneyin 2011:241). She insists that it is he, Baba Segi, the man who has lovingly and generously brought up and supported these seven (now six) children, who is their only real father. She begs Baba Segi to keep them and to allow the wives to stay, having acknowledged earlier that it was she who had instigated the plan for the other two wives to seek impregnation by other men as she had done.

But this secret, she says, must be kept within the family. Baba Segi accepts this suggestion. However, Bolanle announces her intention to leave and restart life on her own elsewhere. She remarks quietly to herself, 'I will remember Baba Segi. I won't miss him but I will remember him. [] Perhaps on some days', she adds, 'I will remember him with fondness [having] learnt many things from the years I spent under his roof' (Shoneyin 2011:244). So, this concludes the sometimes harrowing and sometimes poignant account of the numerous dark secrets of Baba Segi's wives. I leave Shoneyin's narrative as Bolanle declares her resolve to meet the challenges of her new, post-marital life with hope, for she is back 'in the land of the living' after her years of depression, 'and the world is spread before (her) like an egg cracked open' (Shoneyin 2011:245).


A 'synopsis of an African woman's dilemma'

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is an example of the unbearable pain African women are subjected to on the basis of childlessness. It is unbearable in that it locates women to a level beneath the human. In the account above, a woman is expected to solve the problem of childbearing in her own unique and possibly crafty way. Bolanle is at the centre of what is claimed to be a societal norm, that is, any married woman should give birth. Bolanle thus struggled to face her own people and community. Moreover, her barren state is used as a means to psychologically control her. While women face societal criticism and mockeries because of childlessness, men struggle to confront that which threatens their social standing and the power of their manhood. However, researchers such as Greil Slauson-Blevins and McQuillan (2010:146) indicate that 'while wives are pitied, husbands are teased', but in other societies it is the opposite. Baba Segi made it very clear to Bolanle that her barrenness brought shame on him in society. Baba Segi asked Bolanle what 'was wrong with her womb' (Shoneyin 2011:84) and his own ugly warning to Bolanle was that: 'If your father has sold me a rotten fruit, it will be returned to him' (Shoneyin 2011:84). It is on this basis that feminist theologians, such as Ruether (2002), argued correctly that a:

[W]oman's body - her reproductive process - becomes owned by men, defined from a male point of view. Women are seen as reproducing children and producing cooked food and clothes for men. (p. 64)

In agreement with the description offered by Ruether, Baba Segi saw nothing valuable in Bolanle except that she is a woman whom he married to give birth. This despite his earlier feelings when they met, as Baba Segi did not forget his patriarchal position.

Her educational qualifications meant nothing to him as the patriarch of the household (cf, Walby 1990). Could it be that the physiological appearance of women exposes them to much exploitations by virtue of their sexuality? According to Eze (2015):

Baba Segi does not feel the pain of his wife's supposed barrenness because it disturbs his wife, but because it apparently makes people think that he is no longer a man. (p. 319)

In any case, he would not feel for her because she is under his authority. In his mind, she is his subordinate after all, an object for him to do with whatever would please him. Ruether (2002) argues more on the control over a woman's womb in that:

The subjugation of woman is the subjugation of her womb, the subjugation of access to her body, so that she should not explore the pleasures of her own body but that her own body and its fruit should belong first to her father, who would sell her or trade to her husband. She must be delivered as undamaged goods, duly inspected (p. 219)

Once again, Ruether gives a precise analysis, which I think reflects the character of Baba Segi, especially in his ugly warning to Bolanle that, 'If your father has sold me a rotten fruit, it will be returned to him' (Shoneyin 2011:84). In Baba Segi's mind, Bolanle could be a damaged commodity, which was never duly inspected. But then, who was to inspect Bolanle? Her father? This sounds more like a patriarchal play in a form of controlling her sexuality. Furthermore, Baba Segi's use of the word 'sold' reduces Bolanle to an object or commodity, which one can buy and return back to the seller if it fails to deliver according to the expectations3. This brings to light the wrong and misplaced conceptions that most African men have on lobola. Baba Segi's focus was on getting what he wanted and not sympathetically responding to the situation faced by his fourth wife. Bolanle's supposed barrenness made Baba Segi refer to her as a 'thing', which in essence reveals the quality of their inter-subjective relationship. This portrayal of her as a 'thing' depicts Baba Segi and of course other men who think this way as authority and agents over women. This is part of how power dynamics over women are played in households, especially in polygamy. For example, Kanyoro (2001:50) argues that 'polygamy thrives in patriarchal cultures which believe in the superiority of male persons'. Baba Segi's case shows to a certain degree that children (especially males) are a source of power for men in particular. Therefore, infertility for males (particularly in the African context) remains a threat to their social standing (cf. Mbiti 1969; Waruta & Kinoti 2013). A similar point is further argued by Mason (1993) in that giving birth stands as a signifier of manhood and the opposite is perceived as failure of masculinity or manhood. Mason et al. (1993) point out that failure of masculinity in being unable to procreate is seen as part of the conflation of fertility with impotence.

Hanna and Gough (2015:6) indicate that some women voluntarily protect their infertile husband given the stigma that is attached to male infertility. They point out that 'women often shoulder the "blame" for fertility problems even when male-factor infertility has been diagnosed'.

Surprisingly, in a case where a woman is medically found to be infertile, she is exploited, called names and subjected to divorce and other acts that may denigrate the essence of her womanhood (cf. Dyer et al. 2002:1664-1665; Oduyoye 2001). Furthermore, the oppression of women presents itself in different forms and shapes in various situations. The first three wives were consciously or unconsciously propagating the agenda of Baba Segi's patriarchy over Bolanle's supposed barrenness. The covering of Baba Segi's infertility becomes a weapon to frustrate Bolanle. What this submits is that the success of Bolanle's marriage was determined by her ability to give birth. One may wonder as to whether the societal cultures truly afford women the dignity as humans who are not a means to another's ends, but ends in themselves. Somehow, society has been shaped in such a way that women are recognised as owing their lives to men and culture, such that a married woman receives better treatment even by society than one who is unmarried.

Here, one sees the dehumanisation and subjugation of women in many phases and that a male superior uses a female as an object for his own benefits. Such is power dynamics that is also found in the institution of marriage.


Power dynamics over women in marriage

Stan Chu Ilo (2006) indicates that African societies have embraced incorrect perceptions that through marriage a woman earns respect and dignity. What this insinuates is that outside the institution of marriage, a woman remains a nobody. But within the marriage itself, that respect is actually conditional; that is, until a child is born, a woman will not be respected fully as 'Iya'. In Shoneyin's novel, Bolanle is addressed by her name, while the other three are addressed as 'Iya' (mother of). Already, there is a challenge of failing to understand that the use of the term 'Iya' has power dynamics in the lives of women. It contributes in the process of disempowering and undermining women and the essence of being human with full rights and dignity. 'Iya' becomes a determinative title for women's freedom in society today, and where the title 'Iya' is not applicable, a woman suffers greatly. There is absolutely no consideration of a situation where the woman could lose her child, yet they had suddenly lost their identity and came to be referred to as someone's mother.

Understanding women's dignity by virtue of marriage is highly problematic, as it portrays marriage to be the only institution that confers dignity and respect to women (cf. Segalo 2013:1-10). In reality, this institution is also known to be the first among others in constructing norms and systems that enslave women. Although other people perceive unmarried women as free from male supremacy and control (Osiek 2006:832-834), there seems to be a dynamics of control over women by virtue of gender and patriarchal ideologies, that is, they are inferior to men notwithstanding their education, cultural affiliation, class and religion. Gender remains one of the most significant factors in shaping the power dynamics in households.

For Mothlabi, as cited by Kobo (2016:2):

[P]ower and authoritarianism, as social structure in which some people are regarded as having the right to exercise control over the lives of others by virtue of the position they hold within the social structure. He contends that such is by no means limited to political structures but is also found in a home situation where allusion is made to Pauline's text: 'the husband is to be the head of his wife. (Eph 5:23)

Similarly, Robert Dahl (1957:202-203) gives what he calls an 'intuitive idea of power' according to which 'A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do'.

In marriages in cultural contexts that are similar to that of Baba Segi, a woman is regarded as a property of her husband who can do anything with her, including retuning her to her parents should she find no favour in his eyes. Both in marriage and outside, she is under the subjective power of a male patriarch. Similarly, Stan Chu (2006) captures such argument in that it is through marriage that a woman gains dignity; hence, she is someone because she is married and she is nobody outside marriage. This way of understanding is quite misleading, as it paints women as subordinates and commodities of men. But of course there is a history of gender inequality, which established itself as a norm in different spheres of life. Redding in Meader and Wiesner-Hanks (2006:545) points out that a girl or woman is not considered an adult, capable of authority even over her own person, which gives more power and authority to men over her life.

While women are not considered as adults, 'the young male is taught to identify with the male sphere as higher than the female sphere ' (Ruether 2002:63), and begin to establish themselves as persons of power and authority over women in society. This highlights the manner in which some male individuals have capitalised on such sexist and patriarchal norms as means of exercising power over women.

Men therefore inherit social norms that negatively affect women even though the mechanisms of control vary with their social context. Tichenor (2005:193) points out that, 'within marriage, men's power over women has been linked to and legitimated by their role as breadwinners ' and many other norms or aspects that go with the sociological perceptions of masculinity.

In other words, such norms become part of how they define themselves and how they want to be known by society (cf. Haavind 2002:7-12). Linda Lindsey (2015:3) describes 'patriarchy, by definition, exhibits androcentrism - male-centred norms operating throughout some social institutions which become the standard to which many persons adhere'. She argues further that sexism is reinforced when patriarchy and androcentrism are combined to perpetuate beliefs that gender roles are biologically determined and therefore unalterable (2015:3). Patriarchy has the potential to propose a sequence of non-being in the identification of women on the basis of their sexuality.

As a strategy to disempower women, patriarchy maintains the order of creation in that 'the male intellect rules over the female psyche and the distinction of their sexes, which for them (males), signifies that a woman is different from a man' (Børresen 1995:171). Others, such as Thomas Aquinas, argue that the manner in which a female body was formed is interpreted in this sense of subordination (Børresen 1995). In Thomas Aquinas' thoughts, man's domination over woman is based on the primacy of the male sex, in the sense that it is considered as more perfect. For Aquinas, as for Augustine, a woman is ontologically (per definition) inferior; man is, by nature, superior. She must assume an auxiliary role in conformity with the inferiority of her body (see Parsons 2011:95). This system of patriarchy reveals itself as ' the power relationships by which men dominate women, and to characterise a system whereby women are kept as subordinates in a number of ways' (Bhasin 2006:3). The power dynamics are done or at least displayed through institutions such as the academy, the church and the family, each of which justifies and reinforces women's subordination to men (Millett 1977:35).


Masenya's notion of bosadi (womanhood)

Madipoane Masenya (ngwana' Mphahlele) is a South African woman theologian who writes on different issues pertaining to the life or well-being of women. She does so by reflecting from the Bible, thereby using bosadi notion to foreground her methodological approach. In her employment of the concept of bosadi, in several published works (1996, 1998, 2005, 2009, 2011), she critiques culture and texts in a way that affirms women as full humans. In defining the notion of bosadi, Masenya (2005) states that:

The Northern Sotho word bosadi (womanhood) is an abstract noun derived from the word mosadi. The latter has the following meanings: 'woman', 'married woman', 'wife'. The word mosadi comes from the root-sadi, which denotes 'womanhood'. The word bosadi may similarly be translated as 'womanhood' or 'private parts of a woman'. The word mosadi (woman) is also used in other African-South African languages, such as the Nguni (umfazi), Venda, (musadzi), Xitsonga (wansati), and Setswana (mosadi), a fact revealing the basic commonalities of language and experience among the various indigenous people of South Africa. (p. 183)

From the definition above, Masenya opts for bosadi as opposed to mosadi for her gender framework. She points out that mosadi ' can, depending on the context, be used in a derogatory sense' (2011:81). In the same work (Masenya 2011), she argues that:

The (Mosadi) reveals the bias that the African culture has against women as seen in the following usage: A man who is referred to as mosadi, is despised in one way or other. The same word however, may be used for praising a woman as in: O mosadi! Literally, you are a woman, meaning you deserve praises, you have acted in a womanly (sesadi) way!

the word bosadi describes what it means to be a woman in the African-South African culture. In the bosadi approach, the word mosadi, unlike in the traditional sense with its notion of mosadi as a married woman, is used to refer to 'woman', irrespective of her marital status. (pp. 81-82)

Some societal understanding regarding the concept of bosadi is that it calls for expected roles involving nurturing, self-sacrifice, homemaking, availability and subordination. This was observed in the case of Bolanle, where her role as a married woman was defined and tested in her ability to give birth. By virtue of her apparent bareness, she was no longer suitable to be called a woman because of the infertility challenges. Such understanding relegates women to the level of being dominated and weakness. A similar analysis is given by Ruether (2002:81) in that, because of her gender, she is regarded as ' inferior in body (weaker), inferior in mind (less capable of reasoning), and inferior morally (less capable of will and moral control)'. For Masenya (2005:747), the whole method of the bosadi enables 'women to read the Bible in a way which affirms them'. In the context of this article, bosadi refers to the significance of the way in which a woman was created by God to be a full and active human. This means to appreciate her value as merely a human being beyond her gender. In support of Masenya's understanding is Gyekye (1998) who believes that:

[T]o enjoy a human being means you should recognize the other person as a fellow individual whose worth as a human being is equal to yours and with whom you undoubtedly share basic values, ideas and sentiments. Thus, the main intent of the maxim is to point out the worth of a human being and the respect that ought to be given to her by virtue of her humanity. (pp. 25-26)

The inability to recognise Bolanle as a real woman by her husband is a failure to acknowledge her worth as a human being. To be human means more than just the physical shape or form of a human being. Whether Bolanle is medically capable of giving birth, or not, the question of worth in her capacity as a woman supersedes societal perceptions about the definition of woman.

To arrive at a position of recognising a human being beyond gender constructs or ideologies would equally mean recognising a woman as a human being of worth. Infertility, and other challenges faced by Bolanle and other African women, should not be read as determinative factors to the status of bosadi. In other words, bosadi is not and should not be defined in terms of one's ability to give birth, but rather in terms of being created in the image of God. A similar argument is raised by Musopole (1994:178) in that, 'the glory that is human has to be expressed concretely in order to be realized by oneself and acknowledged by others'.

Karl Bath (1961:118) identifies man (humanity) as essentially comprising male and female. From his argument, we have no access to a common human nature, beyond male and female. Thus, there is no human being who is not 'necessarily and totally man and woman'. In other words, man never exists as such, but always as the human male or the human female. From Bath's point, I maintain that to be female and male is to be human in full and where respect of humanity ought to begin. This is in line with the bosadi hermeneutic, as it stands above as a method of humanity of women. Even in the context of those women who chose not to get married or to voluntarily not have children for many reasons, their bosadi has dignity as full human beings and that is not forfeitable and indestructible. This describes women as having equal dignity, being of equal worth and value (see Dreyer 2007a:1513; cf. Sonko 1994:397-411). When we define women as true and complete humans on the basis of fertility, we affect the quality of their humanness that supersedes their fertility.

This methodological framework gives a new lens of reading and understanding women in a manner that represents them as human beings. That is, when we see women, we should understand them as human beings and far beyond our sociological expectations attached to being a woman. Masenya (2015:78) states that 'issues concerning patriarchy, particularly in its multifaceted forms in differing women's contexts need to be treated as a matter of urgency in our Biblical interpretation endeavour'. Indeed, however, Phiri (2007:155) adds that the reading of the Bible that empowers women should begin by identifying the contextual challenges that oppress female child marriage, exclusion from education and other forms. In this way, our approach to issues of women will have relevance and be able to liberate women from evil and life challenges. The bosadi looks deeper into the systems that are demeaning and dehumanising towards women by developing an awareness model that then helps people to view women in a manner that pleases God from creation.


Behind the fiction and the urgency of women's stories

Infertility has been regarded as women's problem or condition by some people (see Masenya 2003; Segalo 2013). Although infertility is traditionally situated within the compass of medicine, it has a greater influence on how social construction understands the phenomenon with regard to both men and women. Because this phenomenon is mostly gender defined (Johansson, Hellstrom & Berg 2011:5; see, Webb & Daniluk 1999), society shifts the blame for being childless onto women (Dyer et al. 2004:960; Savage 1992). This is so, probably because a woman is the one who carries and gives birth to a child.

In some African societies, the essence of womanhood is mostly defined by her capacity to be a mother (i.e. to bear her own child) (Widge 2002:60). Although 'the ideology of motherhood differs according to the sociocultural context, ethnicity, and class' (Widge 2002:61; cf. Makinde 2004:164-174), motherhood has sociologically been given connotations of respect and power with conditions attached to it. By conditions in this regard, I mean the limitations to which these qualities can extend. For example, some people recognise a woman as respectable and really strong as mother on the birth of a child. In a case where a child is not born, they are often victimised and called names. Another example of this is observed in the case of Bolanle in the novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives (Shoneyin 2011). It would appear that the qualities of respect are placed on women for a short period, until they pass the test (i.e. proving their womanhood through marriage and motherhood), and then it becomes permanent. So, giving birth is one of the major criteria society employs to measure the worth of women. Should a woman get married and give birth first to qualify for the status of respect? If this is not a new model of patriarchy, then oppressive systems unfold in multiple dimensions against women. Widge, as cited by Segalo (2013), argues that:

[B]ecause she is defined by her fertility, it can then be assumed that a woman internalises the motherhood role to the extent that if she is infertile or childless, she feels worthless. (p. 4)

But feeling 'worthless' has to do with the thought of being a 'failure' from the constructs of society and the level of comprehension on the meaning and role of women in society.

Segalo (2013:4) reminds us that because children play a very important role in many societies, childlessness is socially regarded as a crisis for couples (cf. Hanna & Gough 2015:2). Put differently, the inability to procreate, regardless of one's medical status, constitutes a major life crisis and does place women's credibility at stake (cf. Mikkelsen, Madsen & Humaidan 2013; Throsby & Gill 2004:335). Infertility as a medical phenomenon is not a female problem; it is a human problem and must be understood as such. The fact that males are defined and categorised as humans, like females, indicates that they are not exempted from the possibility of being infertile.

According to Hollos and Larsen (2008:161), 'most African societies have been found to be strongly pronatalists4 who mandate parenthood. In this context, infertility is especially problematic and is not considered a matter of choice'. Most involuntary childless women suffer personal grief and frustration, social stigma and exclusion as they are seen to be fruitless in their own societies (cf. Seibel 1997:181-183). They are blamed for reproductive mishaps, and in some instances, infertility constitutes grounds for divorce, causing a woman to lose access to her livelihood. With this in mind, it confirms Rosemary Ruether's (2002:64) argument that 'women's sexuality and their wombs are being controlled', either by those subscribing to pronatalism ideology or by patriarchs to advance their own agenda. For those who subscribe to religious beliefs, such as Christianity and African traditional religion, a child is acknowledged as a gift from the supreme God and that he is in control of the human species in full.

Masenya (2003:102) argues, 'Women's sexuality is often defined and controlled by men both in the church and in the households. Female bodies become sacrifices at the altars of male power and pleasure'. The level in which some societies understand women as sexual objects whose role is to satisfy men's sexual desire and never about how they (women) feel is problematic.



The experiences of women go beyond biological and cultural understanding. There are undeniably biological sex differences between men and women, but these distinctions do not have to become the basis of a sexual hierarchy in which men are dominant. Human beings, that is, men and women, share a common human nature, characterised by reason and moral conscience. It is not a gender question, but that of being human, guided by moral conscience.

The consequences of infertility in most rural communities continue to subject women to severe subjugation (see Segalo 2013). They suffer from stigmatisation and ostracism at the hands of their in-laws, other women, their husbands and the society. For some of those who are in practical theology and other human caring fields (psychology, social work, etc.), empathy remains one of the important tools in the process of understanding other human challenges. It is through empathy that caregivers are able to get into other people's shoes, comprehend and be able to journey with them to a positive outcome.

This means that we cannot continue to bemoan the socialisation we have had when the lives of women are at stake. Empathy should always play a significant role, especially in issues pertaining to the well-being of women in African societies. In addition, where systems of oppression are put in place to frustrate women, empathy becomes a helpful tool in dealing with such troubling practices. Even though it is difficult when solidarity among women cannot be reached, especially on issues concerning their lives and culture (Ortega 1995:22-23), a collective reflection and criticism on all issues posing a threat to women is crucial.

This will empower women to claim their rights to health and well-being (Witte & Alexander 2012), as defined by women themselves, and their right to special attention to all health hazards that may arise out of their reproductive inabilities.

Segalo (2013) indicates that:

Women have stories that remain untold; many of the transcripts of their lived experiences remain hidden as platforms for their voices remain minimal. Various contexts such as the home, the church and the workplace to name a few remain spaces that conditionally accommodate women's agency. It is therefore crucial that as we embark on our scholarly pursuits we acknowledge and use a gender lens that takes seriously situated life experiences of women within various contexts. (p. 8)

An atmosphere should be created within which women's experience can be tackled to contribute to the forming and shaping of human consciousness and women's liberation.



Competing interest

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Authors' contributions

The author is the sole contributor to this article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for a research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

There was no funding received for this article.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.



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Gift Baloyi

Received: 30 Nov. 2018
Accepted: 06 June 2019
Published: 24 Oct. 2019



1 . Iya is a Yoruba term meaning 'mother of'. It is normal practice in Nigeria for mothers to be known as 'Iya', followed by the name of their first child (see Shoneyin 2011). However, this way of addressing women as 'mother of' is not just a Nigerian practice but a practice embraced by all African communities. Such is also prevalent within the South African context (among the various vernacular languages); mothers are known as 'Iya' followed by the name of their first child.
2 . Polygamy (from Late Greek polygamía, 'state of marriage to many spouses') is the practice of marrying multiple spouses. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, sociologists call this polygyny.
3 . On the same note, Hollos & Larsen (2008:161) indicate that there is a close relationship between bride price and rights over children, which is indicated in some places by the common practice of payment of bride price in instalments - for example, following the successful birth of a first, second and third child. In the case of infertility, the husband is entitled to the repayment of the bride wealth, indicating that he did not receive the goods that he paid for. This is probably one of the reasons why the essence of womanhood is mostly defined by her capacity to be a mother (Widge 2002:60). Although Widge (2002:61) indicates, 'the ideology of motherhood differs according to the sociocultural context, ethnicity, and class', motherhood has sociologically be given connotations of respect and power.
4 . Laura (2012:33-54) defines pronatalism as a powerful ideology and set of beliefs that goes back many generations
it is an attitude or policy that is pro-birth, that encourages reproduction, that exalts the role of parenthood (cf. Brown 2002). Historically, pronatalistic values have been driven by two motives: survival and power. Throughout human history, valuing fertility was necessary to ensure survival. For example, to ensure population growth in Roman times, ruler Caesar Augustus instituted the Augustan Laws, which rewarded people who had many children and penalised childlessness. At the heart of this is the ideology of childbearing and parenthood as desirable for social reasons and to ensure the continuance of humanity.

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