An African response to The postmodern Bible : is it helpful in breaking the stranglehold of idealist hermeneutics?

Chimeri, Dudzirah (1998-12)

Thesis (M.Phil.) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1998.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of the thesis is to determine the relevance of postmodern insights as expressed in The Postmodern Bible for Africans and evaluate their significance for African biblical scholarship. The thesis argues that postmodern insights are a powerful instrument to free interpretation from its idealist captivity. My argument is that the advent of postmodernity heralded more benefits and opportunities for Africans and their churches than the supposed collateral demage. Postmodernity has created greater opportunities for Africans and other non-western peoples to resist Euro-American domination than modernity. It deconstructs the dominant EuroAmerican tradition and epistemology, thus- enables ,marginalized discourses and groups to become counter-discourses and counter-movements. The first chapter gives a treatment of the purpose and methodology of the thesis, in terms of its structured development. To understand postmodernity attention is given in the second chapter to a description of selected contours of modernity and an evaluation of the causes of its decline. Because of the decline of modernity, it is important to ascertain what alternative paradigms are emerging in its place. The third chapter presents an introduction and description of selected contours associated with postmodernity as expressed in The Postmodern Bible in order to gain some understanding in the philosophical thought patterns and worldview orientations of postmodernists. Some aspects of shona worldview as a background against which to mirror the relevance of postmodernity for Africans are featured in the -fourth chapter. Here the relationship between the shona and their ancestors is explained, as distinct from the God concept which is acknowledged by them as the origin of life. The ancestors as the living-timeless are viewed as a connection between the living and the spirit-world, as well as guardians of traditions, land and the natural environment. An evaluatory critique of postmodernity as expressed in The Postmodern Bible from an African perspective is the fulcrum of the fifth chapter. How does postmodernity formulated for a people of Euro-American cultural and social milieu become effective and relevant in an African cultural and social milieu? Faced with the need to define themselves, Africans are led to place both modernity and postmodernity in a new context and critically evaluate their relevance for them. The significance of postmodern insights for African churches and African biblical scholarship is the theme of the sixth chapter. Here my argument is that a postmodern critique of modernity can help African churches become authentic, contextuallyappropriate hermeneutical communities of the' gospel. It explores the implication of a postmodern critique of individualism, rationalism, scientific/materialistic positivism and technology for an African paradigmatic understanding of being one, holy, catholic and apostolic community of faith. The concluding chapter offers critical observations and implications of the research for African people and their churches. It identifies practical challenges which, if taken seriously, are radically life transforming.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om die relevansie van postmoderne insigte (soos dit uitdrukking gevind het in The Postmodem Bible) vir Afrikane te ondersoek, en om hierdie insigte se belang vir Bybelinterpretasie in Afrika te bepaal. Die tesis voer aan dat postmoderne insigte In kragtige instrument is om interpretasie te bevry van die bande waardeur dit deur idealisme gehou is. My argument is dat die opkoms van postmodernisme meer voordele en geleenthede as nadele inhou vir Afrikane en hul kerke. Postmodernisme het meer geleenthede geskep vir Afrikane en ander nie:... Westerse volkegroepe om Euro-Amerikaanse dominansie te oorkom as wat die modernisme het. Dit dekonstrueer die dominante Euro-Amerikaanse tradisie en epistemologie, en laat dus diskoerse en groepe wat voorheen gemarginaliseerd is toe om teen-diskoerse en teen-bewegings te vorm. Die eerste hoofstuk behandel die doel en metodologie van die tesis, in terme van gestruktureerde ontwikkeling. Om postmodernisme te verstaan word in die tweede hoofstuk aandag gegee aan In beskrywing van sommige kontoere van modernisme sowel as- In evaluasie van die oorsake vir die mislukking van die moderne denkraamwerk. In die lig van die ondergang van die modernisme is dit belangrik om te bepaal watter altematiewe paradigmas in die plek daarvan ontstaan het. Die derde hoofstuk verskaf In inleiding en beskrywing van sommige kontoere wat met postmodernisme geassosieer word, soos dit in The Postmodern Bible uiteengesit word, om sodoende die filosofiese denkpatrone en wereldbeeld orientasies van postmodemiste te begryp. Sekere aspekte van die shona wereldbeeld word in die vierde hoofstuk as agtergrond gebruik om die relevansie van postmodemisme vir· Afrikane aan te toon. Hier word die verhouding tussen die shona en hul voorvaders verduidelik, in onderskeid met die God-konsep wat hulle erken as oorsprong van die lewe. Die voorvaders as lewende, tydlose persone word beskou as In verbintenis tussen die lewende en die geesteswereld, sowel as die bewaarders van tradisie, grond en die natuurlike omgewmg. Hoofstuk vyf bevat In evaluasie-kritiek op postmodemisme soos in The Postmodern Bible uiteengesit, uit In Afrika-perspektief Hoe word postmodemisme wat vir In Euro-Amerikaanse kulturele en sosiale milieu geformuleer is, effektief en relevant vir die kulturele en sosiale milieu van Afrika? Afrikane moet hulself definieer en plaas daarom beide modemisme en postmodemisme in In nuwe konteks en evalueer hul relevansie vir die Afrika-konteks op kritiese wyse. Die belangvan postmodeme insigte vir Afrika-kerke en Afrika-Bybelinterpretasie is die tema van die sesde hoofstuk. Hier is my argument dat In postmoderne kritiek op modemisme die Afrika-kerke kan help om egte, kontekstueel-gepaste, hermeneutiese gemeenskappe van die evangelie te word. Dit ondersoek die implikasies van In postmodeme kritiek op individualisme, rasionalisme, wetenskapliklmaterialistiese positivisme en tegnologie vir die Afrika-verstaan van die belydenis van een heilige, katolieke, apostoliese gemeenskap van geloof. Die laaste hoofstuk verskaf kritiese observasies en implikasies van die navorsing vir Afrika-volke en hul kerke. Dit identifiseer die praktiese uitdagings wat, indien dit emstig opgeneem word, radikale transformasie kan inlui.

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