Interaction between scholarly and non-scholarly reading of Genesis 11:1-9 in the South African context

Rathbone, Mark (2006-03)

Thesis (DTh (Old and New Testament))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


The interaction between scholarly and non-scholarly readings of Genesis 11:1-9 in the South African context refers to the transformation in biblical hermeneutics from the world of the text to the world of the reader and the post-colonial critique of Western essentialist scholarly modes of reading the Bible. This study explored three essentialist modes of scholarly reading from the South African context that perpetuated imperialism and colonialism: Anglocentric -, Afrikaner - and Anti-colonial modes of reading. Non-scholarly readings of Bible Study Groups, African mythology and artworks of Azaria Mbatha view the text as subject. Non-scholarly readings, from the margin of the South African context, informed by a holistic and interconnected cultural discourse, deconstruct essentialism and constructs responsible readings of the Bible. These readings deconstruct centralistic essentialist discourses and construct a liminal space for new creative and responsible readings of the Bible in the South African context that stimulates healing. The ubuntu reading of Genesis 11:1-9 by Desmond Tutu reflects this. His reading incorporates the African connected reading praxis of non-scholarly readings, from the margin of the 'South' African context, and makes use of scholarly discourse. Tutu's mode of reading leans on Western humanism and ecclesiology that does not follow a critical-holistic cultural discourse. The African Independent Church developed as a reaction to Western ecclesial structures. In the African Independent Church the concept, Moya or Spirit functions as a reading matrix that deconstructs the discriminatory and exclusive forces of essentialist disconnection. The study proposes that a Moya reading is an open-critical and inclusive theological-ethical concept. The interpretative thrust is decolonial, deconstructing essentialism and creating a liminal space, for new responsible readings of Genesis 11:1-9. A Moya reading is holistic and connects people to the land, a perspective that is foreign to essentialist scholarly readings of Genesis 11:1-9. This study contributes to the hermeneutical debate in South Africa, Africa and the global context by emphasising the importance of a continued interaction between scholarly and non-scholarly readings of the Bible from the margin.

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