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Jesus in South Africa—Lost in Translation?

In: Journal of Reformed Theology
Authors:
Dirkie Smit Professor of Systematic Theology, Stellenbosch University

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Elna Mouton Professor of New Testament and Dean of the Faculty, Stellenbosch University

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Abstract

Within South African circles, Jesus is seen, interpreted, and understood in diverse and complex ways. It is almost impossible to provide any representative overview of these many ways in which the message concerning his person and work has been and still is being appropriated and claimed in South African churches and communities. This paper briefly surveys four of the dominant discourses about Jesus in contemporary South African society; namely, Jesus in the popular news and newspaper debates, academic circles and scholarship, the worship and spirituality of congregations and believers, and public opinion concerning social and political life. In all cases, major trends are pointed out, which raises the question of whether these developments perhaps involve forms of betrayal, and ways in which the figure and message of Jesus may be lost in these diverse forms of translation.

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