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African Hermeneutics

ISBN: 9781783684649
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Interpretation of Scripture occurs within one’s worldview and culture, which enhances our understanding and ability to apply Scripture in the world. However, few books address Bible interpretation from an African perspective and no other textbook uses the intercultural approach found here. This book brings both an awareness of how one’s African context gives a lens to hermeneutics, but also how to interpret texts with integrity despite our cultural influences.

Resource Experts
  • Explores the theological, literary, and historical/cultural contexts of the biblical authors
  • Presents a model that guides the reader in examining the text using four interrelated steps
  • Provides a foundation for an intercultural approach to interpretation

Part I: General Principles of Hermeneutics

  • Introduction
  • The African Worldview: Theological Aspects
  • The African Worldview: Philosophical aspects
  • An African Hermeneutic: A Four-Legged Stool

Part II: Specific Principles of Hermeneutics

  • Understanding the Context of the Bible
  • Interpreting Stories
  • Interpreting Wisdom
  • Interpreting Songs
  • Interpreting Letters
  • Conclusion

Top Highlights

“This book is an attempt to address this problem by providing the reader with a contextualized, African intercultural approach to the study of the Bible.” (Page xiii)

“However, God’s transcendence must be understood in light of African holism and not as God isolating himself from his creation. Holism is the belief that life is interdependent and integrated and is governed by a law of harmony.12 The Supreme Being is thought to assign duties and responsibilities to lesser spirit beings, gods, and divinities who then interact directly with humanity.” (Page 27)

“When Paul debated with those who disagreed with him, he stepped into their world and based his argument on assumptions that allowed him to engage with their culture and worldview. In so doing he shows how knowing the background of those you are addressing can be used to construct a vital bridge when interpreting and communicating the biblical message.” (Page 18)

“To sum up: The third leg of the hermeneutical stool is to ensure that the literary context is identified and analysed. In uncovering the meaning of any text, it is crucial that the genre, literary techniques, language and flow of the text guide the process and begin to confirm the meaning of the text arrived at so far. Other factors that follow in the process will then reinforce or correct the conclusions arrived at in this stage.” (Page 80)

“To sum up: The first leg of the hermeneutical stool is to consciously identify our own context and discover the points of contact between it and the biblical context. In this way, we can identify cues that will allow for a more accurate interpretation of the text through a process of comparing the two contexts and analysing the findings.” (Page 70)

It is my privilege to commend this helpful and readable work. Communicating clearly and logically developing observations from African life and the biblical text, Elizabeth Mburu articulates a sound and fruitful African hermeneutic. She skilfully compares African and biblical worldviews, offering foundations for contextualization in a way that brings together the interpretive horizons.

—Craig S. Keener, PhD, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary, USA

Elizabeth Mburu lays down principles for a four-legged stool model of an intercultural biblical hermeneutics in Africa and applies it to both Old Testament and New Testament texts. Her contribution deserves close attention from any reader who is interested in the development of intercultural hermeneutics in Africa.

—Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole, PhD, United Bible Societies, Kenya, University of the Free State, South Africa

The author of this exciting book, African Hermeneutics, has aptly referred to African Christianity as “dichotomized Christianity.” To remove this split Christianity, Mburu proposes that African Christians must contextualize the interpretation of the Bible by using known African categories of interpretation. Her proposal is new, fresh, engaging and potentially revolutionary and paradigmatic. In my mind, this is a must read for all African theological educators, missionaries, students and pastors.

—Samuel Waje Kunhiyop, PhD, Author and General Secretary of ECWA (Evangelical Church Willing All)

  • Title: African Hermeneutics
  • Author: Elizabeth Mburu
  • Publisher: Langham
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Pages: 252
  • Resource Type: Monongraph
  • Topic: Hermeneutics

Elizabeth W. Mburu is an adjunct professor of Bible and religion at Montreat College in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent lecturer on the relationship between the New Testament and Qumran literature.


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