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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441

In Skriflig (Online) vol.45 n.4 Pretoria Jul. 2011




The year of jubilee: A hermeneutic for social and moral transformation in South Africa


Die Jubeljaar: 'n Hermeneutiek vir sosiale en morele transformasie in Suid-Afrika



S. Barry

School of Ecclesiastical Science, Potchefstroom Campus. North-West University. Potchefstroom. E-mail:




This article aims to show that the Old Testament concept of the year of jubilee is neither an anachronistic, nor a peripheral detail of Scripture. It is an integral part of it and indeed one hermeneutical tool for interpreting and applying it to social and moral transformation in South Africa.
Israel, liberated from slavery and returning to God, became a paradigm for the liberated slave to return to his inheritance in the year of jubilee celebrated every 50th year. Its underlying concerns are: justice, freedom, human dignity and rights.
Jesus clearly understood his mission in terms of the proclamation of "the year of the Lord's favour" (Luke 4:14-21), and demonstrated this by preaching good news to the poor, freeing the prisoners, restoring sight to the blind, and releasing the oppressed. He linked the mission of his followers with his own and with the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost, seen as fulfilment and announcement of God's promise, demonstrates that the kingdom of God is already here and still to come.
The Book of Revelation gathers together this scriptural theme and presents the jubilee as good news for now and the future. Indeed, God's future is presented as the ultimate jubilee.
Although these institutions cannot be imposed on a secular democracy, there are implications here for holistic evangelism and mission as well as for social and moral transformation in South Africa.
These implications, it is argued, should include a reference to the missio Dei' as Jesus expressed it: holistic evangelism; a commitment to the values and practices of restorative justice; restoration, healing and hope; economic justice and land reform; ecological responsibility; and moral restoration.


Hierdie artikel is daarop gemik om aan te toon dat die Ou-Testamentiese konsep van die Jubeljaar nog anachronisties, nog 'n periferiese besonderheid van die Skrif is. In werklikheid is dit 'n integrale deel van die Skrif, en weliswaar 'n hermeneutiese instrument vir die interpretasie en toepassing daarvan vir sosiale en morele transformasie in Suid-Afrika.
Israel, bevry van slawerny en terugkerend na God, het 'n paradigma geword vir die bevryde slaaf om na sy erfenis terug te keer in die Jubeljaar wat elke 50e jaar gevier is. Die onderliggende belange is: geregtigheid, vryheid, menswaardigheid, en regte.
Jesus het sy sending duidelik verstaan in terme van die proklamasie van die "jaar van die Here se guns" (Luk. 4:14-21), en dit gedemonstreer deur goeie nuus aan die armes te verkondig, gevangenes te bevry, blindes se sig te herstel, en die onder-druktes te bevry. Hy het die sendingtaak van sy volgelinge met sy eie verbind met die belofte en gawe van die Heilige Gees. Pinkster, gesien as sowel vervulling en aankondiging van God se belofte, demonstreer dat die koninkryk van God reeds hier is en nog moet kom.
Die Boek van Openbaring vat die Skriftema saam en offer die Jubeljaar as goeie nuus vir die hede en die toekoms. God se toekoms word immers as die finale bevrydingsjaar voorgehou.
Alhoewel hierdie instellings nie op 'n sekulêre demokrasie afgedruk word nie, is hier implikasies vir holistiese evangelisasie en sending asook vir sosiale en morele transformasie in Suid-Afrika.
Hierdie implikasies, so word beredeneer, behoort na die 'missio Dei' te verwys, soos dit deur Jesus voorgehou is: holistiese evangelisasie; 'n verbintenis tot die waardes en beoefening van genesende geregtigheid; restourasie, genesing en hoop; ekonomiese regverdigheid en landreformasie; ekologiese verant-woordelikheid; en morele herstel.



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