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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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Mapping the Context of Old Testament Studies in Africa 5

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Mapping the Context of Old Testament Studies in Africa This page intentionally left blank Africa and the Old Testament Jesse Mugambi While thanking you for the invitation to deliver a keynote address at this symposium on Africa and the Old Testament (OT), I request you to accompany me as we reflect on some of the challenging issues associated with this theme. There are no ready answers, but I have many questions. Together we can ponder over them and help each other in the search for solutions. This is the way knowledge is advanced. It is encouraging that African scholars are at last consolidating themselves into professional guilds for specialized research and publication in various disciplines. It is also encouraging that increasingly, scholars from other parts of the world appreciate the need to work with their African peers for mutual benefit, without the condescendence and paternalism that characterized earlier relationships. The papers and insights presented in this conference are an important sign-post in the long journey towards the maturation of African theological scholarship. Background There is a puzzling but exciting affinity between the African religious heritage and the way of life which the OT presupposes and takes for granted. This affinity is evident throughout the continent, from Cape Town to Cairo and from Somalia to Senegal, from Port Sudan to Luanda, and from Beira to Casablanca. How can this affinity be explained?1 Missionary ethnography during the colonial period speculated that Africans must have copied their religious ideas from the Hebrews...

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