This article intends to link Africanisation, lay readings and critical scholarship. Its point of departure is the dialectic of colonial inferiority complexes and the realisation of a Babelesque confusion as a defining element of South Africanness. Within this socio-political context the focus falls on Semeia 73 ('Reading with': an exploration of the interface between critical and ordinary readings of the Bible), drawing some implications for a grassroots reading of Esther 9 as well as the role of critical scholarship in the Afrikaans Reformed tradition. Bearing in mind the work of Edward Said on the subject of intellectuality, the article suggests that as long as the renewed focus on the lay reader represents only a change in political grid and power relations, it does not initiate a new trend in hermeneutics. A fundamental shift will only occur when the underlying reading strategies of lay reading are revealed and critically assessed. Instead of merely reproducing the ideological mechanisms and alignments whereby description becomes prescription and the local is represented as universal, it is suggested that these mechanisms should be challenged by the critical reader, even when and while socially engaged.