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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


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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Translating the Old Testament in Africa 193


Translating the Old Testament in Africa This page intentionally left blank United Bible Societies' Strategies for Old Testament Translation in Africa Peter M Renju Let me begin this presentation with a citation from an article of Dr Philip Noss, the United Bible Societies Translation Coordinator for Africa (Noss 1999: 63): 1 Bible translation in Africa is an integral part of the history of Scripture translation, a history in which Africa has not been isolated and is not to be found wanting. Though scattered accounts and records exist, the story remains to be told, and in the telling, the full dimension of the impact of the translators and their translations on the life and theology of the Christian church in Africa needs to be understood and revealed. The story, from the point of view of the United Bible Societies' (UBS) activities, cannot be fully told in a short paper like this one even by limiting ourselves to one region-Africa, and to one testament-the Old Testament (OT). Furthermore, it would be incomplete to say anything at all about this organization and its translation strategies without including something about its raison d'etre. The UBS is a world fellowship of Bible societies, united for consultation, mutual support and action through partnership with all Christian churches in the common task of achieving (Macdonald 1999: I): 2 • the widest possible, effective and meaningful distribution of the Holy Scriptures • in languages which can be easily understood and are faithful to the original texts • in formats which meet...

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