African countries have been exposed over the centuries to diverse cultural, religious, social, political and economic concepts and practices which have one way or the other affected their beliefs and practices. For instance, the church in Africa cannot overlook the effect of their own missionary history which has affected their interpretation and practice of Christianity and life and thought as well. Also, the effect of other religions like Islam cannot be overlooked in attempting to develop hermeneutical practices in Africa. In his Religion and Politics in Independent Nigeria: A Historical Analysis (1996), Alexius Makozi states that,
Indeed, Islamic religion has exerted a lot of influence on the lives of millions of individuals and people in Nigeria. Just as Christianity had a great influence on the religious, socio-economic and political life of Nigeria, so did Islam. The adoption of patterns of common religions and social life gave Islam a moulding force in the life of individuals and community. The Islamic re-integration of a cultural process whereby forms of animistic belief is acknowledged or tolerated made it easy for Africans to adopt Islam as a religion (Makozi 1996: 21).
Similar arguments could perhaps be made for other religious movements like Buddhism and New Religious Movements in contemporary Africa. Also, present world trends in Christianity, politics, and economics clearly affect the way one interprets and relates to biblical texts. African context(s) are certainly more complex than the early pioneers of the comparative approach anticipated. Such complexity calls for an interpretative model that takes seriously the ancient African traditions together with the various influences and modifications that Africans have gone through over the past decades; in order to read biblical texts more effectively, there is the need look at the text critically with both ancient and contemporary eyes.
Agbeti, J.K. “African Theology: 'What is it?'” Presence 5/3 (1972): 5–8.
Bediako, K. Theology and Identity: The Impact of Culture upon Christian Thought in the Second Century and Modern Africa. Oxford: Regnum, 1992.
Cohen, A.P. The Symbolic Construction of the Community. London: Tavistock, 1985.
Cone, James. My Soul Looks Back. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1991.
Cone, James. “Black Theology and Third World Theologies.” In Eds James Cone and
Gayraud Wilmore, Black Theology: A Documentary History, 1980–1992, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1993: 388–398.
Danquah, J.B. The Akan Concept of God. London: Frank Cass, 1968.