The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview

Ham out of a curse meant for Canaan” (99). If this inferred belief about Hamitic peoples on the part of Israelites is true, then its influence must spread beyond Genesis 9:25–26. This requires a response from Hamitic peoples, a hermeneutical response. In the words of Oduyoye, “It is the business of blacks to expose the inherent antiHamitism, which resulted in the paradigmatic extermination of the Canaanites…” (99). In light of this understanding of Israelite ideology, which permeates the entire Bible, any hermeneutic which uncritically reads with the text must be ultimately self-defeating for contemporary Africans.

This argument need not demand that the Cain and Abel story be read in a particular way in Africa. It does demand a hermeneutical approach which leaves open various, and potentially contending, readings in various contexts. The Kariyu people of Eastern Ethiopia have been pushed off of their fertile grazing lands along the Awash River by the government, and have been forced out into an arid semidesert which threatens their nomadic way of life. When I read about these oppressed people, I felt nothing but sorrow for them. When I visited them, however, and I saw tall and powerful men striding through the brush, guarding their herds with AK-47 assaultrifles, I also felt fear. The Cain and Abel story must be allowed to be as complex as contemporary Africa.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bediako, Kwame. Theology and Identity: The Impact of Culture Upon Christian Thought in the Second Century and in Modern Africa. Oxford: Regnum, 1992.

Boesak, Alan. Black and Reformed: Apartheid, Liberation and the Calvinist Tradition. Johannesburg: Skotaville, 1984.

Boesak, Alan. Farewell to Innocence: A Socio-Ethical Study on Black Theology and Power. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1977.

Cowley, Roger W. Ethiopian Biblical Interpretation: A Study in Exegetical Tradition and Hermeneutics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Dickson, Kwesi. “Continuity and Discontinuity between the Old Testament and African Life and Thought.” In Eds Kofi Appiah-Kubi and Sergio Torres, African Theology En Route, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1979: 95–108.

Kato, Byang. Theological Pitfalls in Africa. Kisumu: Evangel Publishing House, 1975.

Mbiti, John. “The Bible in African Culture.” In Ed. Rosino Gibellini, Paths of African Theology, London: SCM, 1994: 27–39. Mosala, Itumeleng J. Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.

Oduyoye, Modupe. The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men: An Afro-Asiatic Interpretation of Genesis 1–11. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1984.

Onwu, N. “The Hermeneutical Model: The Dilemma of the African Theologian.” Africa Theological Journal 14 (1985): 145–160.

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