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Interpreting the Old Testament in Africa

Papers from the International Symposium on Africa and the Old Testament in Nairobi, October 1999

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Edited By Mary Getui, Knut Holter and Victor Zinkuratire

This book is a collection of papers read at the International Symposium on Africa and the Old Testament in Nairobi, October 1999. Thirty biblical scholars and theologians – mainly from Eastern Africa, but some also from South Africa and Europe – came together to discuss what it means to interpret the Old Testament in Africa today. Their contributions fall in five parts: (i) a mapping of the social, historical, and academic context of Old Testament studies in Africa; (ii) exegetical studies of how Africa is portrayed by the Old Testament; (iii) examples of how the African socio-religious experience can serve as comparative material for interpretation of the Old Testament; (iv) examples of how Old Testament texts are experienced as relevant to contemporary African readers; and (v) various aspects of the efforts of translating the Old Testament in Africa today.

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Mary Getui, Knut Holter, Victor Zinkuratire: Introduction 1

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Introduction Mary Getui, Knut Holter, Victor Zinkuratire We had a symposium in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The question of localisation is important for Old Testament (OT) scholarship. One of the things biblical scholars have realised throughout the recent decades is that our interpretation of the Bible emerges from the encounter between the ancient texts on the one hand and us and our context on the other. When thirty scholars-from Eastern and Southern Africa, and even two from Norway--came together in the beautiful convent of the Dimesse Sisters in Karen, outside Nairobi, to discuss various aspects of the relationship between Africa and the OT, the question of localisation was therefore of vital importance. The Karen area, situated at the foot of the Ngong Hills, became to us an Africa in miniature: here we experienced some of the silence and freshness of the savannah, but here we also experienced some of the noise and pollution of the metropolis. And in this context of mixed experiences we repeatedly asked ourselves: what does it mean to interpret the OT in Africa today? There is, of course, no plain answer to this question. The whole symposium-and now this book, a collection of the papers read at the symposium-is an attempt to answer. And this answer falls in five parts. The first part aims at mapping the context of OT studies in Africa: Jesse Mugambi draws some historical lines in the relationship between Africa and the OT -in the biblical texts themselves...

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