Why not postcolonial biblical criticism in (South) Africa : stating the obvious or looking for the impossible?

Punt, Jeremy (2006)

CITATION: Punt, J. 2006. Why not postcolonial biblical criticism in (South) Africa : stating the obvious or looking for the impossible?. Scriptura, 91(0):63-82, doi:10.7833/91-0-1103.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


During the last five decades of the 20th century, the African continent has systematically rid itself of the direct control of the colonial powers. Yet in (South) Africa and elsewhere on the continent, there has until now been very few attempts to introduce postcolonial biblical criticism as a credible hermeneutical approach for the subcontinent. In the South African theological context with its two dominant theological approaches, African and Black Theology, a variety of hermeneutical approaches is represented across a wide spectrum. However, the traditional approaches has until now largely carried the day, both in hermeneutical positioning and its application to and use for interpreting biblical texts. This is certainly true of the wider, popular and ecclesial arena where the Bible is used, but is also the case in the academy. Postcolonial criticism has not been seized upon as a productive method for reading and interpreting the Bible, although its use has obvious benefits also within South Africa's post-Apartheid society. Postcolonial biblical criticism is nevertheless eminently suitable for a context characterised by the lingering colonial legacy, the continuous threat of neo-colonialism, and the position of displaced persons and refugees. This article considers possible reasons for the failure of postcolonial criticism to impact upon biblical studies in (South) Africa on a large scale, when it offers such obvious hermeneutical potential, spin-offs, as well as the opportunity to approach the Bible from a different than the traditional vantage point.

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