Doctoral Degrees (Old and New Testament)

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    Cosmological accents in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in the light of ecological concerns : antecedents and later developments
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-11-14) Adebayo, Oluwarotimi Paul; Punt, Jeremy; Stellenbosch University. Facultuy of Theology. Dept. of Old and New Testament
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study, in conversation with the current ecological discourse, sets out to identify the cosmological accents present in the letter of Paul to the Romans and explores two of the prominent cosmological texts in the epistle – Romans 1:18-22 and 8:19-22. Their possible antecedence in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and their later development in the patristic literature of Late Antiquity are considered. This study deploys a dual methodology of exegetical analysis of cosmological texts in the epistle to the Romans supported with secondary readings on the use of cosmological terms (for Chapters 3 and 4) and a comparative analysis of such cosmological accents of the epistle to the Romans in Late Antiquity (for chapter 5). Due to the nature of this study, its coverage is restricted to peculiar aspects of cosmological studies which relate to the epistle to the Romans, in the OT, NT and patristic writings in Late Antiquity. The study establishes that though these three categories of literature elevated and dignified the place of humanity in the cosmos, this alone does not account for the comprehensive perception of these literature of the world, as within them nature also was accorded an important and dignified position simultaneously. Therefore, as a result of this dignified perception of creation, the Judeo-Christian religion should not be held as the root cause of the present ecological crisis as claimed today (in the instance of Lynn White Jr). Rather, the patristic literature experimented with and prescribed a worthy approach to relate to nature, namely natural contemplation. This work explores natural contemplation as one of the gains from a densely Gnostic-influenced Greek Eastern church of Late Antiquity, and resulted in employing natural contemplation in considering the significance of the Pauline materials for the current ecological malaise ravaging the world. This study advocates that this approach should be adjusted, adapted and adopted by the contemporary age in its efforts to relate with fellow occupants of the shared planet and used in addressing the excesses that have led to the present ecological crisis.
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    The implications of honour and shame in Matthew 5:38-42 and in Unhu philosophy as a response to the political violence in Zimbabwe
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-11) Gusha, Tapiwa Huggins; Nel, Marius Johannes; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Old and New Testament.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research sought to understand how honour and shame are defined in both Matt. 5:38-42 and Unhu Philosophy, and how they can be analysed alongside each other as a possible way of curbing political violence in Zimbabwe. To explore the possibility of how the Matthean Jesus’ context illuminate the Zimbabwean context the researcher used Social Scientific Exegesis to answer three critical questions; how are the values of honour and shame defined in Matthew 5:38-42?, what is Unhu philosophy and how do the concepts of honour and shame feature within it?, what are the differences and similarities between understandings of honour and shame in Jesus’ ethics as reflected in Matt. 5:38-42 and the way honour and shame feature in Unhu Philosophy? This research contains six chapters. Chapter one is the introduction providing the aim and focus of the study, research questions, the importance of the study and the methodology. Chapter two focused on honour and shame in Matthew as well as the understanding of honour and shame in the Jewish and Greco-Roman world behind the text. Chapter three gives an overview of the Sermon on the Mount and undertakes the Social-Scientific exegesis of Matt. 5:38-42. Chapter four provided a general overview of the African context and investigated how the Bible should be interpreted from a Postcolonial perspective. Chapter five focused on honour and shame in Unhu Philosophy and chapter six concluded the research by indicating similarities and divergences between the Matthean Jesus’ context and the Unhu Philosophy oriented Zimbabwean context. The research identified some similarities in the role played by the values of honour and shame in the Matthean Jesus’ community and the Zimbabwean community in as far as violence was/is concerned. This research established that the Matthean Jesus’ approach to violence as captured in Matt. 5:38-42 was different from his contemporaries. While the Matthean Jesus participated in the game of honour and shame he also changed the game’s rules. This research concluded that if the custodians of Jesus’ ethics i.e., the Church adopt the Matthean Jesus’ approach she might contribute effectively to the stopping the vicious circle of political violence in Zimbabwe and contribute positively to the dialogue of national healing and reconciliation.
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    Navigating the threshold : an African-feminist reading of the Hagar narrative in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-11) Thabede, Slindile; Jonker, Louis C.; Davids, N.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Old and New Testament.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study focuses on the experiences of Hagar/Hajar, as depicted through the three monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The scriptures from these traditions locate her in remarkably different ways, bringing into conversation profound considerations of who Hagar/Hajar is, not only concerning the specific faith traditions but what these varying traditions can offer for interreligious dialogue and sense-making. In this regard, the study first provides three vantage points, each couched in a monotheistic milieu, and argues for reconsidering the Hagar/Hajar traditions. Secondly, and more importantly, by focusing on Hagar/Hajar’s geopolitical positioning, the study adopts an African-feminist perspective, which opens new possibilities for the significance of her story. Finally, by emphasising her liminality, this bifocal framework lays bare Hagar/Hajar’s body as a site of multiple oppressions and as hope and transcendence. As a slave woman gifted to the monotheist Abraham, her body adopts an intersectional portrayal of oppression regarding sexuality, gender, culture, race, class, and ethnicity. While centrally located across the three Abrahamic traditions, her story reveals remarkably different contextually-bound interpretations, opening rich deliberations and debates for the position and positioning of women along a historical trajectory. Subsequently, this research aims to create a critical space within which the multiple oppressions exerted on black women in South Africa can be articulated. The study also reveals the structures that continue to oppress and subjugate black women. Hagar/Hajar’s memory is kept alive through the liminal identities of South African women who share similarities with her experience. Therefore, in telling their story through Hagar/Hajar as an African matriarch, her story offers new modes of survival and resistance for South African black women. Consequently, the story of Hagar/Hajar becomes an excellent “threshold” or “third space” where authentic engagement within the three religious traditions can also occur. The study constitutes an attempt to create a conversational space where all three Abrahamic traditions could potentially act as each other’s reflective space. Here they could hold one another accountable through the Hagar/Hajar story and together identify the life-giving or life-denying modes that their respective Hagar/Hajar narratives have established in their worlds of origin.
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    The crucifixion and death of Jesus in Mark 15:21-41, from the perspective of its redaction history in the New Testament gospels
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-03-02) Hombana, Mphumezi; Nel, Marius Johannes; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Old and New Testament.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation investigates how the passion narrative tradition (crucifixion and death) of Jesus is redacted in the four New Testament gospels. In other words, how Matthew, Luke, and John interpreted the Markan passion narrative for their unique contexts. To answer this research question adequately, the issue of the four gospels’ relationships has been researched extensively. This study accepts Markan priority as the credible position in the synoptic puzzle. It also assumes that the Fourth Gospel has some form of a relationship with Mark, unlike Matthew and Luke. In this regard the question is seen to be not if John used the Synoptic Gospels as a literary source but if he responded to them or the tradition that had arisen from them. Hence, this study first attempted to investigate how the passion narrative developed from tradition into the Markan narrative account. The goal of this exercise was to provide the background for the entire study. Since Mark was the first canonical gospel that was written, this study shows how Matthew, Luke, and John redacted Mark 15:21-41. The research methodology employed in this study is redaction criticism. It is guided by the notion that a redaction-critical examination of Matthew, Luke, and John (the first existing sources to interpret Mark) can provide key details about how Jesus’ disciples read Mark 15:21-41 in the first century. As a result, this in-depth examination of these events (i.e., Jesus’ crucifixion and death) may yield a plausible understanding of Mark 15:21-41. This project contributes to the ongoing debate about the relationship between John and the Synoptic Gospels that is central to the fourth quest for the historical Jesus. Even though the study largely reaffirms the findings of various studies that have worked on segments of the text analysed, the approached is novel in that it combines the analysis of three canonical Gospels as redactors of Mark 15:21-41. It is hoped that this study, which has been undertaken on African soil by an African scholar will encourage other African scholars to work on the Greek text itself.
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    Memories of enslavement as identity formation in the legal collections of the Pentateuch
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-03-01) Cobongs, Bitrus Bulus; Bosman, Hendrik; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Old and New Testament.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is a study of memories of enslavement as identity formation embedded in the slave instructions of the legal collections of the Pentateuch. The personal experiences of the writer in his native country of Nigeria and the last twenty years in the USA, became the impetus for the scrutiny of these slave instructions. The constant tribal and religious conflicts in Northern Nigeria are usually accompanied by the mention of past experiences of slavery and colonialism. Similarly, the black community in the USA seems weighed down by the memories of slavery and segregation as it wrestles with the matters of dignity, poverty and lack of education that affect it disproportionately. These concerns caused the author to reflect on the biblical material in the Pentateuch that relates to memories of slavery as the communities seek an identity of their own. Hence, this dissertation, with the title “Memories of Enslavement as Identity Formation in the Legal Collection of the Pentateuch”, seeks to investigate how those passages addressed ancient Israel regarding the ethical treatment of the poor and downtrodden. The author approached the passages from the point of view of a historical-grammatical study, where attention is paid to the grammar and syntax of the text, and similarities and dissimilarities in the synoptic texts where they address the subject of slave instructions in the Covenant Code (CC) in Exodus 21:1-11; the Holiness Code (HC) in Leviticus 25:39-55; and the Deuteronomic Code (DC) in Deuteronomy 15:12-18. An observation of the contexts surrounding these instructions shed light on their individual contexts and the guiding interests of the authors. The references to Egypt as a house of slavery in these instructions is considered a literary device to jolt the memory and direct behaviour in the right direction for the treatment of workers, especially fellow Israelites. It appears that, in each instruction, the setting of the pre-exilic and post-exilic world events of the ANE had influenced the behaviour of the audience so that the appeal to consider kinship relationships was prominent in the Deuteronomic and Holiness codes, where the term “brother” is employed as the true identity of the Hebrew slave. First, the CC and DC limit the service of Hebrew slaves to six years. The HC, which appears to be the latest instruction, removes the term “slave” entirely and draws attention to the claims of Yahweh, that Israel was redeemed to be “servants” of God and not anyone else’s. Second, in the effort to guarantee the freedom of Israelite slaves at the Jubilee, the HC further removes “female slaves” as a possibility for Israelites. In the narrative sections of the Pentateuch, descriptive narrations of slavery require the attention of further research, because this dissertation focused narrowly on the slave instructions. Any further research into those narratives will yield helpful information on how oral cultures tell and retell stories as a collective, identity-forming mechanism. The dissertation seeks to bring to light analogies from the above Pentateuchal passages to the Nigerian experiences of tribal and religious relationships, as discussed in Chapter 2. The topic, “Memories of Enslavement as Identity Formation in the Legal Collections of the Pentateuch”, indicates the initial intention of the study. However, the historical-grammatical study revealed that memories are tied to kinship in ancient Israel – illustrated by the metaphors related to family. The exilic community found a strong tie in kinship through the recollection of a common past. The common identity, in turn, was at the heart of the theological and ethical call to acknowledge the authority of Yahweh as the true Lord of all Israel. The slave instructions provide a sense of theological and ethical direction for the audience of each instruction. Likewise, the instructions appear relevant for theological and ethical direction for the modern world. The theological-ethical motivations of the slave instructions are relevant for Nigeria and other countries struggling to devise an identity from the memories of slavery and colonialism.