Rereading Hebrews for liberating interdependence from within a Zimbabwean Mbire context

Chimeri, Dudzirai (2005-12)

Thesis (D. Phil.)--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As modern society becomes more complex and diverse, a colonial reading paradigm is increasingly becoming less plausible and has reached a point at which it is no longer possible to play tricks with colonized peoples. It belongs to a period and expresses an outlook with which we can no longer identify. A new epoch in the field of reading has opened. What we see in a postcolonial paradigm is a radical shuffling of the cards into a new pattern. This study argues that a postcolonial assumption of a plurality of contexts of salvation is a liberating paradigm that proceeds along a path that includes the acceptance of the independence and separate character of the various religions and the avoidance of superordination-subordination relationships. It acknowledges and seeks to detect religious intolerance and to encourage an approach that celebrates human cultural diversity—a rainbow religion or religious landscape. In this study a colonial reading paradigm of the bible in general and the letter to the Hebrews in particular, is turned on its head and colonial conception of supersessionism – an absolute claim to superiority – rendered largely obsolete. It is no longer a case of business as usual. As the Christian assumption of absolute claims to superiority over non-Christian religions is increasingly becoming less plausible – in fact, obsolete – and no longer make sense to many people, collective and collaborative efforts are an ideal alternative. There is a need to create space for other religions to work in partnership with the Christian religion in our unprecedented communicational, democratic and pluralistic cultural contexts where we rub shoulders with devotees of non-Christian religions. A pluralistic form of religious environment, where there is no one religion with preferential privileges, is an ideal thing in our contexts. We need a different conceptualization of the role of religion, where non-Christian religions are viewed not as demonic, false or inferior, but as worthy colleagues in the religious quest. They are alternative and valid version of religious faith as well. The idea that the ultimate reality, the cosmic power, has dealt with only one segment of humankind, the Christian people, and that ideally there should be one, and only one, universal religion should be rejected. Moreover, for Christian people to be receptive to non-Christian religions does not entail abandoning or betraying the Christian religion. It simply entails appropriating insights previously unavailable to them. The idea that the Euro-American Christian theoretical line carries automatic evaluative judgements should now be regarded as decidedly outdated.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In ‘n toenemend diverse en komplekse moderne samelewing is daar nie meer ruimte vir ’n koloniale lees-paradigma nie. Dit is trouens onwaarskynlik dat gekolonialiseerde mense (steeds) ’n rat voor die oë gedraai kan word. Sulke tye behoort tot die verlede en beliggaam ’n wêreldbeskouing waarmee nie langer geïdentifiseer kan word nie. ‘n Nuwe epog wat betref die lees van tekste is op die horison. Binne die post-koloniale paradigma bemerk mens ‘n radikale herposisionering van weë, en selfs nuwe weë. Hierdie studie betoog dat ’n post-koloniale veronderstelling van ’n verskeidenheid-van-kontekstevan- verlossing uiteindelik ’n bevrydende paradigma is, wat sigself beywer om die afsonderlike en onafhanklike karakter van ander godsdienste te aanvaar en enige magsverhoudinge tussen hulle te bestry. Dit wil enige vorm van religieuse onverdraagsaamheid hokslaan en die viering van kulturele diversiteit aanmoedig. In die studie word ’n koloniale lees-paradigma van die Bybel in die algemeen en die Hebreërbrief in besonder op sy kop gekeer, terwyl die idee van absolute koloniale super-heerskappy as uitgediend beskou word. Dit is gewis nie meer ’n geval van klakkelose berusting in die algemene gang van sake nie. Soos ‘n Christelike veronderstelling van absolute aanspraak vanuit ‘n magsposisie en heerskappy teenoor ander godsdienste al minder verantwoordbaar blyk te wees en vir baie eenvoudig nie meer sin maak nie, bied gesamentlike pogings nuwe en verfrissende alternatiewe. Daar is ’n behoefte om ruimte te skep vir ander godsdienste waarbinne hulle juis as vennote saam met Christene in vandag se ongekend kommunikatiewe, demokratiese en pluralisties-kulturele kontekste kan meewerk. ’n Pluralisties-religieuse omgewing – waar geen godsdiens enige spesiale bevoorregting bo ’n ander geniet nie – kan daarom as die ideaal in huidige kontekste beskou word. Hiervoor word egter ‘n ander begrippe-apparaat ten opsigte van die rol van religie benodig, waarmee nie-Christengelowiges nie as demonies, vervloek of minderwaardig beskou sal word nie, maar veel eerder as waardige vennote in die religieuse gesprek. Hul standpunte behoort as alternatiewe en ewe geldige perspektiewe erken en gerespekteer te word. Die idee dat die Almagtige, na wie almal vra, slegs by één bepaalde segment van die mensdom betrokke sou wees, naamlik by Christene, word heeltemal verwerp. Dieselfde geld die beywering en uiteindelike daarstel van één universele geloof. Christene se openheid teenoor andersgelowiges beteken egter allermins ’n verloëning van die Christelike evangelie. Die gedagtegang van hierdie studie impliseer bloot dat Christene voortdurend oop sal wees vir ander se religieuse insigte. Die idee dat ‘n Westerse teoretiese raamwerk outomaties waarde-oordele kan fel, word dus daarmee beslissend as gedateerd verklaar.

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