African and European Readers of the Bible in Dialogue

In Quest of a Shared Meaning


Far too long, the relationship between European and African biblical scholarship has been a non-relationship. Divergent insights into how biblical texts should be interpreted and made fruitful for the current context, cultural differences, colonial past and post-colonial future, radically different social situations – this all made companionship and real interaction difficult. This rich and multilayered volume (result of a Stellenbosch conference 2006) attempts to disclose new modes of dialogue between readers of the Bible from those two worlds.
More than twenty theologians from Africa and Europe reflect together on how readers from radically different contexts – professional and ordinary alike –, may become allies in an ethically accountable way of relating the biblical text to their current (global) situations and how a process of mutual learning may be established.
This book provides important insights in intercultural hermeneutics, the relationship between classical historico-literary approaches and new forms of interpretation. It also gives examples of new forms of how to read the Bible in the secularised European context and the HIV/Aids stricken Africa. Particularly enriching is that every contribution is followed by a personal letter of response of another contributor to the book, giving impulses for further dialogue and debate.
The book is useful for all biblical scholars and students, in particular for those interested in how to do contextual exegesis in a manner that also takes into account the context of the other.

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Hans de Wit, Ph.D. (1991) in Theology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is professor at the faculty of Theology, VU University, and holder of the Dom Hélder Câmara chair. He is initiator of the innovating and worldwide project Through the Eyes of Another, intercultural reading of the Bible. Before his designation at the VU University, he worked for ten years in Chile, Latin America. He has written commentries on Genesis, the OT prophets, and Daniel, and has extensively published on the relationship between classical, modern and postmodern hermeneutics, the relationship between text and context, professional and ordinary readers of the Bible, and about genitive and intercultural hermeneutics. His books has been published in Spanish, English and Dutch.
Gerald West, Ph.D. (1991) in Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, England, is professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and African Biblical Heremeneutics in the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is also Director of the Ujamaa Centre for Community Development and Research, a project in which socially engaged biblical scholars and ordinary African readers of the Bible from poor, working-class, and marginalized communities collaborate for social transformation. Among his recent publications are The Academy of the Poor: Towards a Dialogical Reading of the Bible (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications 2003) and an edited volume, together with Musa Dube, The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends (Leiden: Brill, 2000).
"This book will inspire those who read it to explore the “joy of dialogue” with the “dignity of difference”. On the one hand, it helped me to see the potential and opportunity, and on the other, the growing need for Africans and Europeans to engage in fruitful dialogue so that we can learn from one another and build a stronger bridge between the two continents."
Kobus Kok, University of Pretoria, Missionalia 37:2

"Each article is based on a presentation at the conference and is followed by a letter in response from another participant representing a different perspective. This format is frustratingly effective, in that the reader is left eager to see the next round of the exchange."
H.S. Pyper, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 33:5

"Thank you very much for this book, which takes great efforts to bring European and African scholars together, and will demand many re-readings and prompt much discussion. I hope it does not become a final chapter in this fascinating and necessary dialogue."
Fergus King, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Mission Studies 27
Relevant for all those readers of the Bible interested in contextual exegesis, ethics and interpretation, Africa and the Bible, Europe and the Bible, postcolonial criticism, the relationship of the biblical text and the current readers context.