The Reception of Edwards’s A History of the Work of Redemption in Nineteenth-century Basutoland

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A recently discovered manuscript by the French missionary Adolph Mabille (1836-1894) in the Morija Archives, Lesotho, remedies the lack of attention of A History of the Work of Redemption (hwr hereafter), by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) in the nineteenth century. This manuscript found its way from colonial America to Africa through French missionary endeavors in relgious educational training (Paris) and teaching (Basutoland). Edwards’s original aim, and the subsequent publication of ‘outlines of a body of divinity’, converged in nineteenth-century France, where the hwr was translated in the context of Le Réveil and taught in the course of systematic theology at the Paris Evangelical Mission Society Mission house, exemplified by Mabille’s Dogmatique. Moreover, the appropriation of Edwards’s hwr in the combined context of missions and religious education was extended in Basutoland, as seen in the Katekisma. The outline of the catechism may be due to Mabille’s classical training and acquaintance with ‘universal chronology’ and Scripture, but it also reflected his intimate knowledge of Edwards’s work. The reception of Edwards’s exposition of redemptive history in the catechism of Basutoland thus resonates in part with Mabille’s Dogmatique—a text transmission of Edwards’s Histoire. The transmission of this text remained the same in structure, was shortened in content and modified over time, but continued as intended by Edwards: to show ‘a work that God is carrying on from the fall of man to the end of the world’.

The Reception of Edwards’s A History of the Work of Redemption in Nineteenth-century Basutoland

in Journal of Religion in Africa

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MabilleKatekisma ea Litaba tsa Bibele (Moria: Khahiso ea A. Mabille1875) 3: “Go thlōga pōpong ea lefatše isa morallong oa metsi ki lilemo tse 1656.” Cf. Mabille Dogmatique 165-175 (Iere Epoque. De la chute au Déluge); Mabille Katekisma ea Litaba tsa Bibele 10: “Go thlōga nakong ea morallo go isa pitsong ea Abrahama ki lilemo tse 430.” Cf. Mabille Dogmatique 175-181 (iie Epoque. Du Déluge à l’appel d’Abraham); Mabille Katekisma ea Litaba tsa Bibele 13: “Go thlōga isa pitsong ea Abrahama go fitlela go tsueng ga Iseraela Egepteng ki lilemo tse 430.” Cf. Mabille Dogmatique 181-190 (iiie Epoque. D’Abraham à Moïse); Mabille Katekisma ea Litaba tsa Bibele 18: “Go thlōga ha Baiseraele ba tsuile Egepet eng go fitla lefung la Salomone ki lilemo tse 500.” Cf. Mabille Dogmatique 191-209 (ive Epoque. DeMoïse à David); Mabille Katekisma ea Litaba tsa Bibele 26: “Go thlōga lefung la Salomone go isa motla Baiseraele ba isoang Babylona ki lilemo tse 400.” Cf. Mabille Dogmatique 209-229 (Ve Epoque. De Davidà captivité de Babylone); Mabille Katekisma ea Litaba tsa Bibele 29: “Go thlōga motla Bayode ba isoang Babylona go isa go tsualoeng ga Yesu Kreste ki lilemo tse 580.” Cf. Mabille Dogmatique 229-246 (vie et dernière Epoque. De lacaptivité de Babylone à la venue du Christ).

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