A Karanga perspective on fertility and barrenness as blessing and curse in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10

Moyo, Chiropafadzo (2006-04)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation seeks to develop further the theological interpretation of the books of Samuel, by examining I Samuel I: 1-2:10 in the context of fertility and barrenness as blessing and curse. This reading was related to the Karanga understanding of fertility and barrenness. The contribution shows how the Biblical narrative can become a resource for ethical reflection in African communities such as the Karanga women. The hypotheses that guided this study, were that: a-Fertility and barrenness in the Old Testament should be understood in close conjunction with blessing and cursing as theological concepts in ancient Israel. b-Fertility and barrenness could also be examined in a relevant and contextual manner by relating it to the culture and understanding of the Karanga people. In order to achieve this, two major tasks were attempted. One: An exegesis of I Samuel I: 12: 10 in which Vernon Robbins' method of Socio- Rhetorical criticism was used. The method helped to identify that the text is a narrative, and that the author might have been the Deuteronomistic historian, who wrote in the period of the decline of the Judean monarchy and when the Jews were in exile. The narrative is used to tell about the despair of the Jews, and to inform the Jews that there was hope for restoration if they obeyed God. This ideology is woven in the story of a barren woman Hannah who suffered the despair of barrenness and was later blessed with a child because of her prayer and obedience to God. In the narrative God is described as one who cares for the marginalised, and one who changes the lives of his people, from curse to blessing. The method also helped to realise tbe culture and context of Hannah, and made it possible to relate this culture and context to other cultures that are similar. Secondly an empirical survey was conducted amongst one hundred Karanga women. The findings were that Karanga consider fertility as blessing and barrenness as curse. The curse is experienced in the suffering of the barren women. Barrenness is used to inflict pain, to marginalise women, and has become a major cause of divorce and death through the spread of HIV and Aids. A reading of the story of Hannah helped the Karanga women to identify their barren problems with Hannah, and to find a new way of understanding their own problem in terms of hope. This study was able to prove its hypothesis both through the exegesis and the discussions of the research findings. It was found that the narrative form of the text appealed effectively to the understanding of Karanga women. This was possible because narrative is one of the methods of communication that is used effectively by the Karanga in their language. Through using Hannah as a paradigm of curse and blessing in relation to barrenness and fertility, Karanga women were challenged to view their barren situations in a different way that is open to accept change from curse to blessing. The study has also contributed to see how an old text of the time of Hannah could in the present day contextually influence Karanga women's barren experiences through holding the same culture and also by having similar experiences barren of women.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie dissertasie poog om die teologiese interpretasie van die boeke van Samuel verder te ontwikkel by wyse van 'n ondersoek van I Samuel 1:1-2:10 in die konteks van vrugbaarheid en onvrugbaarheid as 'n seën en as 'n vervloeking. Hierdie ondersoek verwys na die Karangabevolking se begrip van vrugbaarheid en onvrugbaarheid. Die bydrae toon aan hoe die Bybelse verhaal 'n bron vir etiese nadenke onder Afrika-gemeenskappe, soos die Karangavroue, kan word. Die hipoteses wat hierdie studie gerig het, was dat: a-Vrugbaarheid en onvrugbaarheid in die Ou Testament behoort begryp te word in 'n noue verbintenis met seën en vervloeking as teologiese begrippe in antieke Israel. b-Vrugbaarheid en onvrugbaarheid kan ook ondersoek word in 'n relevante en kontekstuele wyse deur dit te verbind met die kultuur en begrip van die Karanga-mense. Om dit te vermag, is twee hooftake onderneem. Die eerste was 'n eksegese van I Samuel 1: 12: 10 waarin Vernon Robbins se metode van sosioretoriese kritiek aangewend is. Hierdie metode het gehelp om die teks as 'n narratief te identifiseer en dat die skrywer die Deuteronomiese historikus kon gewees het, wat in die periode van die monargie van Juda geskryf het en ook tydens die Jode se ballingskap. Die narratief word gebruik om aan te toon hoe wanhopig die Jode was en om hulle in te lig dat daar hoop op hul herstel was indien hulle God gehoorsaam. Hierdie ideologie is verweef in die verhaal van die onvrugbare vrou, Hanna, wat aan die wanhoop van onvrugbaarheid gely het en later met 'n kind geseën is op grond van haar gebede en gehoorsaamheid aan God. In die narratief word God as die een beskryf wat na die gemarginaliseerdes omsien en wat die lewens van sy mense vanaf vervloeking tot seën omvorm. Die metode het ook meegehelp om die kultuur en konteks van Hanna te begryp en dit moontlik gemaak om hierdie kultuur en konteks te verklaar ingevolge die van ander soortgelyke kulture. Tweedens is 'n empiriese studie onder 'n honderd Karanga-vroue onderneem. Die bevindinge was dat Karanga-vroue vrugbaarheid as 'n seën en onvrugbaarheid as 'n vervloeking beskou. Die vervloeking word in die lyding van die onvrugbare vroue ervaar. Onvrugbaarheid word aangewend om pyn en lyding te veroorsaak, om vroue te marginaliseer en het 'n belangrike bron van egskeiding en dood deur die verspreiding van HIV en Vigs geword. Deur die verhaal van Hanna te lees, het die Karanga-vroue gehelp om hul eie onvrugbaarheidsprobleme met die van Hanna te identifiseer en om nuwe wyses te vind om hul eie probleme te verstaan in terme van hoop. Hierdie studie was in staat om sy hipoteses te bewys sowel by wyse van die eksegese en ook deur die bespreking van die navorsingsbevindings. Dit is bevind dat die narratiewe vorm van die teks duidelik tot die begrip van die Karanga-vroue gespreek het. Dit was moontlik aangesien 'n verhalende trant een van die kommunikasiewyses is wat doeltreffend deur Karanga-vroue aangewend word in hul taal. Deur Hanna as 'n paradigma van vervloeking en as seën te gebruik met verwysing tot onvrugbaarheid en vrugbaarheid, is Karanga-vroue uitgedaag om hul beskouing van hul onvrugbare toestand op verskillende wyses te betrag wat oop is om 'n verandering te aanvaar vanaf vervloeking tot seën. Die studie het ook daartoe bygedra om te sien hoe 'n ou teks uit die tyd van Hanna tans kontekstueel die Karanga-vroue se onvrugbaarheidservarings kan beinvloed waar hulle uit 'n soortgelyke kultuur kom en ook soortgelyke ervarings as Hanna het as onvrugbare vroue.

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