Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa

in Religion and Theology
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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.

Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa

in Religion and Theology

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References

2

Paul Germond and Steve de GruchyAliens in the Household of God: Homosexuality and Christian Faith in South Africa (Cape Town: David Philip1997).

7

PlusNews Service 19 January 2010.

15

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.

19

William L. SachsHomosexuality and the Crisis of Anglicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2009) 1.

21

SachsHomosexuality12–14.

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SachsHomosexuality14–16.

28

See Human Rights Watch 2008.

32

Rodney Muhumuza“Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, Signs Controversial Anti-Gay Bill,” The Huffington Postn.p. [cited 12 February 2015]. Online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/ugandan-president-signs-anti-gay-bill_n_4845722.html.

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Andrew Rice“Enemy’s Enemy,” New Republic4 August 2004 n.p. [cited 12 February 2015]. Online: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/politics/enemys-enemy.

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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.

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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.

38

Rudolf Bultmann“Liberal Theology and the Latest Theological Movement,” in Faith and Understanding 1 (Fortress Texts in Modern Theology; ed. Robert Funk; trans. Louise P. Smith; Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Fortress1987) 28–52.

39

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.

41

See BultmannSynoptic Tradition222.

42

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46

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.

47

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Bultmann“The Problem of Demythologizing” 251.

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Bultmann“The Problem of Demythologizing” 232.

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Rudolf Bultmann“Ethical and Mystical Orientation in Early Christianity,” in The Beginnings of Dialectical Theology (ed. J.M. Robinson; Richmond Va.: John Knox Press 1969[1920]) 221–235.

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BultmannTheology 1 19.

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Marc Epprecht“Sexuality, Africa, History,” The American Historical Review 114 no. 5 (December 2009): 1258–1272 esp. 1258–1259.

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Gerald O. WestThe Academy of the Poor: Towards a Dialogical Reading of the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press1999) 154–162.

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Jeffrey JohnPermanent Faithful Stable: Christian Same-Sex Partnerships (Affirming Catholicism; 2nd rev. ed.; London: Darton, Longman & Todd2000).

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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.

73

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).

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GundaThe Bible and Homosexuality in Zimbabwe266.

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Origen“Origen Against Celsus,” in Ante-Nicene Fathers 4 (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson2012) 518.

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Andrew Mein“Threat and Promise: Old Testament on Sexuality,” in An Acceptable Sacrifice?: Homosexuality and the Church (eds. Duncan Dormor and Jeremy Morris; London: SPCK 2007) 22–32.

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Peter KaseneneReligious Ethics in Africa (Kampala: Fountain Publishers1998) 15.

80

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.

81

Donald J. WoldOur of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books1998) 17.

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BultmannTheology 2 237.

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BultmannTheology 2 243–244.

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