Faith in African Lived Christianity

Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives

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Edited by Karen Lauterbach and Mika Vähäkangas

Faith in African Lived Christianity – Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives offers a comprehensive, empirically rich and interdisciplinary approach to the study of faith in African Christianity. The book brings together anthropology and theology in the study of how faith and religious experiences shape the understanding of social life in Africa. The volume is a collection of chapters by prominent Africanist theologians, anthropologists and social scientists, who take people’s faith as their starting point and analyze it in a contextually sensitive way. It covers discussions of positionality in the study of African Christianity, interdisciplinary methods and approaches and a number of case studies on political, social and ecological aspects of African Christian spirituality.

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Hans Olsson

In Jesus for Zanzibar: Narratives of Pentecostal (Non-)Belonging, Islam, and Nation Hans Olsson offers an ethnographic account of the lived experience and socio-political significance of newly arriving Pentecostal Christians in the Muslim majority setting of Zanzibar. This work analyzes how a disputed political partnership between Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania intersects with the construction of religious identities.

Undertaken at a time of political tensions, the case study of Zanzibar’s largest Pentecostal church, the City Christian Center, outlines religious belonging as relationally filtered in-between experiences of social insecurity, altered minority / majority positions, and spiritual powers. Hans Olsson shows that Pentecostal Christianity, as a signifier of (un)wanted social change, exemplifies contested processes of becoming in Zanzibar that capitalizes on, and creates meaning out of, religious difference and ambient political tensions.

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Serawit Bekele Debele

In Locating Politics in Ethiopia's Irreecha Ritual Serawit Bekele Debele gives an account of politics and political processes in contemporary Ethiopia as manifested in the annual ritual performance. Mobilizing various sources such as archives, oral accounts, conversations, videos, newspapers, and personal observations, Debele critically analyses political processes and how they are experienced, made sense of and articulated across generational, educational, religious, gender and ethnic differences as well as political persuasions. Moreover, through the prism of Irreecha she analyses political processes and how they are experienced, made sense of and articulated across political persuasions, generational, educational, religious, gender and ethnic differences. 

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Edited by John J. Collins and Ananda Geyser-Fouché

This volume contains 17 essays on the subjects of text, canon, and scribal practice. The volume is introduced by an overview of the Qumran evidence for text and canon of the Bible. Most of the text critical studies deal with texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls, including sectarian as well as canonical texts. Two essays shed light on the formation of authoritative literature. Scribal practice is illustrated in various ways, again mostly from the Dead Sea Scrolls. One essay deals with diachronic change in Qumran Hebrew. Rounding out the volume are two thematic studies, a wide-ranging study of the “ambiguous oracle” of Josephus, which he identifies as Balaam’s oracle, and a review of the use of female metaphors for Wisdom.

Ana Luiza de Oliveira e Silva

This article explores how the Nigerien intellectual and politician Boubou Hama (1906/09–1982) represented the relationship between Islamic and “traditional” educational ideals. Based on an understanding that Islamic education was closely linked to the historical dissemination and establishment of Islam, Hama advanced a particular interpretation of the reception and circulation of Muslim knowledge in West Africa. He argued that, first, the presence of Islam should be understood in its African historical context; second, that the foundations of African culture were equally “traditional” and Islamic; and third, that the forms of education that had shaped such culture could be used as the basis for a political plan of development. By doing so, Hama asserted that just as Islam was crucial to the continent’s history, it was a central part of Africa’s engagement with the wider world.

Insa Nolte

In West Africa, Muslim learning has historically been shaped by two key engagements: the participation in wider Islamic debates and the co-existence with non-Muslims. In the twentieth and twenty-first century, Islamic education in West Africa was transformed by the imposition of the secular state and Western education. But as Muslims encountered secularism and Christianity, they also increasingly drew on pedagogies that emanated from Middle Eastern and Asian Islam. The articles in this Special Issue illustrate that as Islamic scholars and leaders from different backgrounds engaged simultaneously with the diversity of global Islam and the growing presence of secular and Christian institutions, they developed a multiplicity of educational practices and visions. Thus learning to be Muslim in West Africa reflects both the engagement with Islamic discourse and debates about the boundaries of Islam.