Biblical Interpretation and African Traditional Religion

Cross-Cultural and Community Readings in Owamboland, Namibia

Series:

In Biblical Interpretation and African Traditional Religion, Helen C. John juxtaposes grassroots biblical interpretations from Owamboland, Namibia, with professional interpretations of selected New Testament texts, effectively demonstrating the capacity of grassroots interpretations to destabilise, challenge and nuance dominant professional interpretations. John uses a cross-cultural and dialogical approach – ‘Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretation Groups’ – to explore the relationship between African Traditional Religion (ATR), Christianity and biblical interpretation in Owamboland, Namibia. She contextualises the grassroots Owambo interpretations using fieldwork experiences and ethnographic literature, thus heightening the cross-cultural encounter. In particular, John reflects on Western epistemologies and the Eurocentric interpretative trends that are brought into relief by the African interpretations gathered in Owamboland.

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Biographical Note

Helen C. John is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK, having been awarded her Ph.D. there in 2016. She has published articles on Christianity and biblical interpretation in Owamboland, Namibia, as well as on Religious Education in the UK.

Table of contents

Contents

Abbreviations IX

List of Figures and Tables X

Acknowledgements Xi

Introduction
 1 Indigenous Traditions and Christianity in Owamboland: Encounters and Interactions in a Post-colonial Context
 2 Cross-Cultural (Grassroots) Biblical Interpretation Groups

Part 1: Methodology


1 Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretation Groups: Contextual Voices and Contextual Realities as Sites of Interpretative Expertise
 1 Interpreting Biblical Texts with Alternative Worldviews and Social Locations: the Dalit Feminist Interpretation of Surekha Nelavala
 2 Interpreting Biblical Texts with Grassroots Participants: Contextual Bible Study
 3 Interpreting Biblical Texts with Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretations Groups: Interdisciplinary Concerns
 4 Conclusions

2 Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretation Groups: the Approach in Practice
 1 The ‘Cross-Cultural’ in CCBIGs
 2 The ‘Biblical Interpretation’ in CCBIGs
 3 The ‘Groups’ in CCBIGs
 4 Limitations

Part 2: Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretation Groups in Ondonga, Namibia


3 Material Interpretations of Wedding Parables (Matthew 22:1–14 and Luke 14:7–11)
 1 Matthew 22:1–14 and Luke 14:7–11 in Iihongo CCBIGs
 2 Ethnographic Contextualisation
 3 Iihongo Interpretations of Matthew 22:1–14 and Luke 14:7–11 in Dialogue with Social-Scientific New Testament Scholarship
 4 Conclusions

4 Blood, Clothing, and Shadows: Extending Notions of the Person in the Stories of Jairus and the Haemorrhaging Woman (Mark 5:21–43)
 1 Mark 5:21–43 in Iihongo CCBIGs
 2 Ethnographic Contextualisation
 3 Iihongo Interpretations of Mark 5:21–43 in Dialogue with Feminist New Testament Scholarship
 4 Conclusions

5 The Graves and Groves of Restless Spirits: Noctambulant Legion and the Living Landscape (Luke 8:26–39)
 1 Luke 8:26–39 in Iihongo CCBIGs and the Ethnographic Context
 2 Possession in (Ethnographic) Context: Noctambulant Legion in a ‘Living Landscape’
 3 Luke 8:26–39 in Eurocentric New Testament Scholarship: Spirits and the Colonisers
 4 Luke 8:26–39 in Eurocentric New Testament Scholarship: Spirits, Space, and Place
 5 Conclusions

6 Commanding the Whirlwinds, Calming the Storm: Interactions with Nature ‘in Culture’ and ‘in Christianity’ (Mark 4:35–41 and 6:45–52)
 1 Mark 4:35–41 and 6:45–52 in Iihongo CCBIGs
 2 Ethnographic Contextualisation
 3 Iihongo Interpretations of Mark 4:35–41 and 6:45–52 in Dialogue with Eurocentric New Testament Scholarship
 4 Iihongo Interpretations of Mark 4:35–41 and 6:45–52 in Dialogue with Social-Scientific New Testament Scholarship
 5 Conclusions

7 Jesus as Spirit, Jesus in the Spirit: Interpreting the Risen Jesus with Restless Spirits and Ancestors (Luke 24:1–49)
 1 Luke 24:1–49 in Iihongo CCBIGs
 2 Ethnographic Contextualisation
 3 Iihongo Interpretations of Luke 24:1–49 in Dialogue with African Inculturation Christologies
 4 Conclusions

Conclusions
 1 African Traditional Religion in Owamboland
 2 Biblical Interpretation, Christianity, and African Traditional Religion in Owamboland
Bibliography
Index of Biblical Passages
Index of Authors
Index of Subjects

Readership

All readers interested in African Studies, African translation studies, African Theology, African Biblical Studies, wider Biblical Studies, wider Ethnographic/Anthropological studies.