Hospitality and its ironic inversion in Genesis 18 & 19 : a theological-ethical study

Kassa, Friday Sule (2017-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is a study of hospitality and its ironic inversion in Genesis 18 and 19 towards a theological-ethical understanding of the concept in the Old Testament. Hospitality is one of the patterns of behaviour prescribed by the Old Testament towards the ‘other’ (i.e. strangers or foreigners or an alien). The Tangale people of Nigeria and many African tribes attach great importance to the care of strangers. However, in the last three decades, the traditional Tangale practice of hospitality has come under pressure due to factors such as ethnic and religious diversity, politics, economics, globalisation, as well as injustice of various forms and degrees. The concern of this dissertation is the investigation of the Old Testament stories of hospitality, guided by the Christian faith communities’ tradition to help in resisting the inhuman treatment of the ‘other’, especially within the Tangale contexts. Due to similarities in contexts, this study can also be extrapolated to some other cultures in Africa. This research focuses on the theological-ethical understanding of hospitality in the Old Testament and how it is expressed in the narrative of Genesis 18–19. It investigates the Old Testament concept, its significance and theological-ethical implications. It is proposed that a nuanced understanding of the Old Testament concept and practice of hospitality might reveal its transformative power to the readers. The proposal also anticipated that certain theological-ethical ideals might be gleaned from the Old Testament concept. This may serve as a theological underpinning to incorporate the fundamentals of the concept in contemporary ethical reflections without necessarily generalising meaning and drawing superficial parallels between ancient and contemporary contexts. The dissertation employs socio-rhetorical criticism of the two chapters of Genesis 18 and 19. Socio-rhetoric is a multidimensional approach to biblical text that allows for the multifaceted witnesses from the Old Testament traditions to be heard. This approach corresponds to the nature of the selected text because the rhetorical issues portrayed in hospitality and kinship are not only ideological, they are also ethical because they relate to issues of social justice as well. The approach identified irony as a rhetorical technique to understanding the selected passage. Socio-rhetoric reveals that Genesis 18 and 19 is a masterpiece of a literary art that exhibits an intricate network of texts. Different textures of the text show that the text must have been formulated during the postexilic period by a sage theologian who combined P and non-P scribal traditions, making them into a coherent whole. The multidimensional approach identifies seemingly incongruences in the double strand of stories. The incongruences were read as an ironic ploy to critic certain traditions thereof. The topic, Hospitality and its Ironic Inversion in Genesis 18 and 19: A Theological-Ethical Study, indicated the initial intention of the study. However, the ironic reading leads to a surprising realisation that hospitality is intricately linked to kinship in ancient Israel. Kinship provided the vocabulary for understanding the cultural practice of hospitality. It shows that hospitality entails individual and corporate responsibility and accountability towards Israel’s Yahweh’s covenant obligation of righteousness and social justice towards Yahweh.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif is 'n studie van gasvryheid en die ironiese omkering daarvan in Genesis 18 en 19 jeens 'n teologiese etiese begrip van dié konsep in die Ou Testament. Die gebruik en praktyk van gasvryheid is een van die gedragspatrone wat deur die Ou Testament voorgeskryf word teenoor die "ander" (dit wil sê vreemdes of vreemdelinge). Die Tangale-mense van Nigerië en baie Afrika-stamme heg groot waarde aan die sorg van vreemdelinge. In die afgelope drie dekades het die tradisionele Tangale-praktyk van gasvryheid egter onder druk gekom as gevolg van faktore soos etniese- en godsdienstige diversiteit, politiek, ekonomie, globalisering, asook onreg van verskillende vorme en grade. Hierdie verhandeling is ’n ondersoek na die Ou-Testamentiese verhale van gasvryheid, gelei deur die tradisie van die Christelike geloofsgemeenskap, om te help om die onmenslike behandeling van die 'ander' te weerstaan, veral binne die Tangale-konteks. Ekstrapolasies van hierdie studie kan ook moontlik wees in ander kulture in Afrika as gevolg van die ooreenkomste in konteks. Hierdie navorsing fokus op die teologies-etiese begrip van gasvryheid in die Ou Testament en hoe dit uitgedruk word in die verhaal van Genesis 18-19. Dit ondersoek die Ou-Testamentiese konsep, die betekenis daarvan, asook teologiese-etiese implikasies. Daar word voorgehou dat 'n genuanseerde begrip van die Ou-Testamentiese konsep en praktyk van gasvryheid sy transformerende krag aan die lesers sal openbaar. Verder word daar ook verwag dat sekere teologiese etiese idees uit die Ou-Testamentiese konsep verkry kan word. Dit kan dien as 'n teologiese grondslag om die grondbeginsels van die konsep in hedendaagse etiese refleksie te inkorporeer sonder om te veralgemeen en oppervlakkige ooreenkomste tussen antieke en hedendaagse kontekste te identifiseer. Die verhandeling gebruik sosio-retoriese kritiek op die twee hoofstukke van Genesis 18 en 19. Sosio-retoriek is 'n veelsydige benadering tot die Bybelse teks wat toelaat dat die veelvuldige getuies uit die Ou Testamentiese tradisies gehoor word. Hierdie benadering stem ooreen met die aard van die geselekteerde teks, want die retoriese kwessies wat in gasvryheid en verwantskap uitgebeeld word, is nie net ideologies nie, maar ook eties omdat dit verband hou met kwessies van sosiale geregtigheid. Die benadering wat hier gevolg word, het ironie as retoriese tegniek geïdentifiseer om die geselekteerde gedeelte te verstaan. Sosio-retoriek onthul dat Genesis 18 en 19 'n meesterstuk is van 'n literêre kuns wat 'n ingewikkelde netwerk van tekste vertoon. Verskillende teksture van die teks toon dat die teks tydens die na-ballingskap periode geformuleer moes gewees het deur 'n sage-teoloog wat P- en nie-P-skribale tradisies gekombineer het tot ’n samehangende geheel. Die multidimensionele benadering identifiseer oënskynlike onversoenbaarheid in hoe die stories verweef is. Die onversoenbaarhede is gelees as 'n ironiese taktiek om sekere tradisies daarvan te kritiseer. Die onderwerp, Gasvryheid en die Ironiese Inversie daarvan in Genesis 18 en 19: 'n Teologiese-Etiese Studie, het die aanvanklike intensie van die studie aangedui. Die ironiese lesing lei egter tot die besef dat gasvryheid nou verbind is aan verwantskap in antieke Israel. Verwantskap verskaf die woordeskat vir die begrip van die kulturele praktyk van gasvryheid. Dit toon dat gasvryheid individuele en korporatiewe verantwoordelikheid en aanspreeklikheid ten opsigte van Israel se Yahweh-verbondsverpligtinge van reg en sosiale geregtigheid teenoor Yahweh behels.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102922
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