In this essay, I discuss hermeneutical approaches to the debate on homosexuality in the African context. I argue that the hermeneutics of Rudolf Bultmann offers a way of understanding the debate. I start with a general discussion of the response to homosexuality in Africa and follow that with a narration of perspectives from church leaders in Africa and proceed to discuss the work of Bultmann and in the last section apply the hermeneutical insights to point a way forward.
Ephraim Kasozi“African Bishops Unite to Denounce Homosexuality,”Sunday Monitor29 August 2010 n.p. [cited 12 February 2015]. Online: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/998598/-/x4kdcm/-/index.html.
Laurenti Magesa“The Challenge of African Women Defined Theology for the 21st Century,” in Challenges and Prospects of the Church in Africa: Theological Reflections of the 21st Century (eds. N.W. Ndung’u and P.N. Mwaura; Nairobi: Paulines Publications2005) 88–101.
The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola“Position of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) on the Bill for an Act to Prohibit Marriage Between Persons of Same Gender Solemnization of Same and for Other Matters Relating Therewith”5. Cited 12 February 2013. Online: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/CoNposition.pdf.
Rudolf Bultmann“Liberal Theology and the Latest Theological Movement,” in Faith and Understanding1 (Fortress Texts in Modern Theology; ed. Robert Funk; trans. Louise P. Smith; Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Fortress1987) 28–52.
R.A. JohnsonThe Origins of Demythologizing: Philosophy and Historiography in the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers1974) 34. I am indebted to Johnson for his insightful analysis which I have gained from in preparing this paper.
Rudolf Bultmann“The Problem of Demythologizing,” in The Hermeneutics Reader: Texts of the German Tradition from the Enlightenment to the Present(ed. and intro. Kurt Mueller-Vollmer; New York N.Y.: Continuum 1989) 248.
Masiiwa Ragies GundaThe Bible and Homosexuality in Zimbabwe: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Political Cultural and Christian Arguments in the Homosexual Public Debate with Special Reference to the Use of the Bible (Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press2010) 263.
Martii NissinenHomoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective (trans. Kirsi Stjerna; Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Fortress1998) 46. See also Mark D. Jordan The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (Chicago Ill.: University of Chicago Press 1997).
Canaan S. Banana“The Case for a New Bible,” in “Rewriting” the Bible: The Real Issues: Perspectives from Within Biblical and Religious Studies in Zimbabwe (eds. Isabel Mukonyora, J.I. Cox and E.J. Verstraelen; Gweru: Mambo Press1993) 18–19.