The Bible and Sociological Contours

Some African Perspectives. Festschrift for Professor Halvor Moxnes

by Zorodzai Dube (Volume editor) Loreen Maseno-Ouma (Volume editor) Elia Shabani Mligo (Volume editor)
©2018 Monographs XII, 132 Pages
Series: Bible and Theology in Africa, Volume 26


This book, which is a collection of various essays on Africa and the Bible, is a must-read for scholars and students who are interested in exploring the intersection between the Bible and public spaces exposing the liberating and oppressing strands of the Bible. Given the enchanted African worldview, which includes belief in miracles, divine healing and prosperity, the Bible is the go-to-authority of many religious activities. Though at home, the Bible’s role and function needs closer assessment. The critical question tackled in this volume is: how can Africa read the Bible from its various contexts to recover its usefulness on issues of gender, patriarchy and political and economic liberation? Yet equally, how do we guard against oppressive discourses that find support from the Bible such as polygamy, viewing women as unequal to men and growing economic disparities? In addition, throughout history, Africans are made to be comfortable with theologies that further distance them away from economic and political processes, such as the belief in an angry God who punishes and demands utter obedience—theologies which have sustained particular asymmetric socio-economic and political structures across the continent. This book is important because it traces the sociological contours in the Bible in relation to Africa, sensitizing us to the liberating strands and, at the same time, making us aware of the pathos associated with the literary reading of the Bible.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface (Marianne Bjelland Kartzow)
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction: Critiquing the Institutionalized Meanings and Discourses (Zorodzai Dube)
  • 1. ‘Is There a Bible in This Church?’ Contextual Theology, Reader-Response Criticism, and the Authority of the Bible (Elia Shabani Mligo)
  • 2. Re-visiting Christology from an Indigenous Perspective: A Study of the New Images of Jesus in African Christianity in the Zimbabwean Context (Phillip Musoni)
  • 3. Jesus’ Influence in Africa: History, Hermeneutics, and Praxis (Ephraim Tshuma)
  • 4. The Bible and HIV and AIDS: Taking Stock of African Biblical Scholarship on the Subject (Lovemore Togarasei)
  • 5. People’s Theology, Prophetic Theology, and Public Theology in Post-liberation South Africa (Gerald O. West)
  • 6. Patriarchy Ridiculed and Turned Upside Down: The Role and Place of Humour in Esther 1.1–22 (Loreen Maseno-Ouma)
  • 7. Alterity and Liminality in the Margin: Messiahs and Prophets in Zimbabwe and in Galilee (Zorodzai Dube)
  • 8. No Shades of Grey? Jesus and the Creation of Liminal Identity and Space as Locus of God’s Presence: An Essay in Honour of Halvor Moxnes (Jacobus (Kobus) Kok)
  • Concluding Remarks: Halvor Moxnes, a Biblical Scholar and a Human Being (Elia Shabani Mligo)
  • Contributors
  • Series index

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Professor of New Testament Studies University of Oslo

Some people get older as the years pass by. Others get wiser! It was not a given that Halvor Moxnes’ groundbreaking interest in social history and the New Testament should lead to an engagement between African liberation discourse and Bible reading in HIV and AIDS affected communities. However, as Moxnes became involved in student exchange programmes with different African countries, he opened up his home and heart, and he was willing to learn from and to be challenged by other people’s experiences. His strong advocacy for the outsider and those marginalised on economic or gender grounds has helped him to see certain connections between social issues in the ancient texts and social issues today.

In this book, Moxnes’ former students and colleagues honour him for broadening the perspectives of what is relevant knowledge. His creative and critical search for meaning in the Bible has involved and inspired several scholars that have been viewed traditionally as representing the margins in the field.

Turning 70 could be a moment to look back. In this book, we are invited to look to the future. Building on earlier works in which the Bible has been used as a source of morality and ethics, new questions are asked—in the spirit of Halvor Moxnes. The ongoing and challenging process of finding relevant methodologies, epistemologies and hermeneutical spaces in biblical studies is addressed in this volume. Is the Bible a canonical text, a cultural text, a text of terror, a historical text? Who has the power to decide that anyway? And what theoretical tools do we need to discuss such complex issues?

The political context(s) of the Bible, historically as well as in our global society, are scrutinized from a variety of angles. How should the academy ← vii | viii → relate to the scene of political activists? While gender issues and the challenge of patriarchy are also addressed, it is shown that the biblical texts and their interpretations can be both liberating and oppressive. Other social factors are always interconnected with gender. These presumptions construct interesting dialogues and dynamics among the different essays.

And what about Jesus? Was he primarily a unique liberator or part of a complex social group structure? If we all have to put Jesus in his place and at the same time make him relevant today, biblical meaning indeed becomes fluid and contextual. Engaged with issues at the centre of the ongoing discussion, the margins in this book represent voices worth listening to. Halvor Moxnes used his access to privileged space to encourage new scholars with their own set of different experiences and perspective to be involved in the field. This book shows that he did a very wise thing.

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When we started to brainstorm the initial ideas about writing a Festschrift in Honour of Professor Halvor Moxnes, several hurdles stood on our way and one of them being the funding towards the publication of the book. This book would not have seen the light of day without the generous funding from the Faculty of Theology (University of Oslo). Importantly, we would like to thank the then Dean of the Faculty, Professor Trygve E. Wyller, who, when we emailed to him about the idea, embraced it and heartily encouraged us to continue with the project.

This book is edited by Professor Moxnes’ former students, the African students who got scholarships from the Norwegian Quota Scholarship and completed their Masters and Doctoral studies in Norway. It is important therefore to thank the Norwegian Quota Programme for allowing us such a rare opportunity to study and receive quality education under internationally rated professors, such as Professor Halvor Moxnes.

Since the book is dedicated to Professor Moxnes, a few words of gratitude to him are appropriate. We would like to thank him for taking the time and energy to direct and mentor us into biblical scholarship. We also extend similar gratitude to all professors of theology at the University of Oslo, Faculty of Theology, especially those who were directly involved in the “Inter-contextual Theology Programme” such as Professor Kjetil Hafstad, Helge Kvanvig, Notto Thelle, Obbjorn Leirvik, and Jone Salomonsen to mention a few of them. Their contribution towards our academic careers was invaluable.

We also extend a word of gratitude to Professor Knut Holter, from the Norwegian School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, who is the Peter Lang editor of the Bible and Theology in Africa series, for reading the ← ix | x → manuscript for consistency. His comments and suggestions were important to bring the book into this present form. Of course, as editors, we are responsible for any other editorial errors.

During our time as students, we made friends with fellow students and some of them are now employed as professors at the faculty—they constantly encouraged and provided helpful ideas during the process of writing and compiling the various papers. We would like to thank Professor Marianne Bjelland Kartzow for writing the Foreword, Anders Martinsen, Professor Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Rebecca Solevåg and Eivor Oftestad for their words of encouragement.

We would like to particularly thank Rebecca Solevåg who became our easy target person each time we required practical advice. She was instrumental in drafting our application letter for funding and in advising us about the publisher. Last, but not least, we would like to thank the contributors who patiently worked tirelessly even during situations when essays required several revisions. May the Lord God grant a peace of mind upon each person involved in this work in one way or another!

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XII, 132
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (October)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XII, 132 pp., 1 b/w ill., 2 tables

Biographical notes

Zorodzai Dube (Volume editor) Loreen Maseno-Ouma (Volume editor) Elia Shabani Mligo (Volume editor)

Zorodzai Dube holds a PhD in contextual theology (New Testament) from the University of Oslo. He is Lecturer at the Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa. In addition to articles, he is the author of Storytelling in Times of Violence in Zimbabwe: Hearing the Exorcism Stories in Zimbabwe and in Mark (2013). Loreen Maseno-Ouma holds a PhD in contextual theology from the University of Oslo, Norway. She is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Religion, Theology and Philosophy, Maseno University, Kenya and Research Fellow at the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa. Recently a Humboldt Research Fellow, she is the author, among others, of these books: Practices in Higher Education in Kenya (2011), Gendering the Inculturation Debate in Africa (2011) and How Abanyole African Women Understand Christ (2014). Elia Shabani Mligo holds a PhD in contextual theology from the University of Oslo, Norway. He is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Research at Teofilo Kisanji University in Mbeya Tanzania. In addition to several book chapters and journal articles, he has written many books; some of them include: The Kingdom of God (2012), Jesus and the Divorce Commandment (2012), Elements of African Traditional Religion (2013), Symbolic Interactionism in the Gospel According to John (2014), He Descended into Hell (2015) and Pastoral Counseling for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (2018).


Title: The Bible and Sociological Contours