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Maasai Women and the Old Testament

Towards an Emancipatory Reading

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Hoyce Jacob Lyimo-Mbowe

The research presented in this book is a critical study of some effects of popular biblical interpretations in the context of an East African ethnic group, the Maasai. The book focuses on parallels between concepts of female inferiority in biblical texts and in Maasai traditional culture. It investigates some parallels and analyses their problems as they are conceptualized in popular Maasai biblical interpretation and how these affect the social transformation of the contemporary Maasai women.

Therefore, this book aims at sensitizing readers of the Bible about popular interpretation of biblical texts that consciously, and more often unconsciously, function as a legitimizing force, which authorizes or reinforces socio-cultural structures that oppress women. However, it demonstrates the potential of reading biblical texts from emancipatory perspectives, both in popular and academic critical contexts. Also, this book demonstrates how some popular Maasai biblical interpretations contributes in the academic works for the emancipation of women. Moreover, this work develops its own contextual hermeneutics approach of woman liberation known as enkitok. The new approach borrows some aspects from social fields and it has been employed in this work on some selected biblical texts.

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Chapter Two Theoretical Perspectives

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Theoretical Perspectives

This chapter discusses some theoretical conceptual frameworks within which the Bible is interpreted from emancipatory perspectives. The sets of interrelated theories that form the basis for this work are in two groups. The first group contains hermeneutics theory, namely, intersectional hermeneutics. The discussion of this theory starts with a clarification of the terms and the source of the womanist hermeneutics and its influence in the world. The debate is narrowed to African womanist biblical hermeneutics. Some insights from this theory are borrowed to function as a base in developing the analytic tool of the data collected from the fieldwork. Thus, this conceptual framework serves as a guide in this research project to show the specific way by which this research was undertaken. The second group contains data collection techniques. It consists of insights from three approaches, namely: “Reading Otherwise,” “Reading With,” and action research. The combination of insights from these three interpretive approaches builds my data collection tools that I used during the fieldwork. In other words, the insights from the first set of interpretive approaches serve as a base for developing my data analysis tools, while insights from the second set serve as a base to form my data collection tools. The theories from these two sets inspire the enkitok approach, which is a new approach developed in this work.

Feminism, intersectionality, African feminism, Black feminism, African womanism and the like are terminologies that always have been difficult terms for some people. Biblical...

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