The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview
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Paul came to understand the curse of hanging on a cross as an exchange curse which was capable of bringing redemption and blessing to those believe. The logic which Paul invokes is the logic of sacrifice: an innocent victim can represent and take the place of one who is guilty; a curse can be removed from one by being transferred to another. This same logic is at work in the popular theology of the Revival Movement among the Babukusu: in dying on the cross, Jesus becomes the lamb of God who takes the world's sin so that the world can go free; the curse of sin and guilt is transferred to another. This logic of an exchange curse allows Paul to view the curse of the cross as God's way of giving life to people previously living under the curse of the Torah. The same logic has allowed Babukusu Christians to sing and preach about the cross as a lifegiving tree, at least since the 1930s. The idea of the hanged Christ has the potential to be a cause of offense to Babukusu people. The cross could have been considered a source of cursing. Instead the logic of sacrifice has allowed the cross to be for the Babukusu a sign of life and blessing.


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Baumgarten, J.M. “Does the TLH in the Temple Scroll Refer to Crucifixion?” JBL 91 (1972): 472–81.

Davies, W.D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980.

Donaldson, Terence L. “The 'Curse of the Law' and the Inclusion of the Gentiles: Galatians 3:13–14.” NTS 32 (1986): 94–112.

Elgvin, Torleif. “The Messiah Who Was Cursed on the Tree, Themelios 22/3 (1997): 14–22.

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Hurtado, Larry. “Convert, Apostate or Apostle to the Nations: The 'Conversion' of Paul in Recent Scholarship.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieues 22/3 (1993): 273–84.

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Makila, F.E. An Outline History of the Babukusu. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1978.

Pobee, John S. Persecution and Martyrdom in the Theology of Paul. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985.

Segal, Alan. Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.


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