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A Study of the Johannine Symbol of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1-18) with Particular Reference to «Ofo» Symbol in Igbo, Nigeria

A Biblical Inculturation Approach


Livinus Maduadichie

The Johannine symbol of the good shepherd (Jn 10:1-18) is employed by the fourth evangelist from the Jewish cultural context, to communicate the Divine message of the redemption of humanity by Jesus Christ, who is the Symbol, the Son and the Revealer of the Johannine Father. This symbol is discussed here from the hermeneutical perspective in the context of Igbo in Nigeria, with particular reference to «Ofo», an Igbo ritual symbol. The symbol of the good shepherd depicts different meanings, depending on the exegetical approach of the interpreter, and among them is the depth of love which the Johannine Father has for the humanity. The «Ofo» similarly, symbolizes diverse values among which are, the virtue of truth, innocence, justice, power, emblem of unity, staff of authority and indestructibility of the individual or the group. Using the literary analysis of exegesis, the method of the intercultural hermeneutics, employed in the African method of biblical analysis, is applied in the discourse. With this method therefore, the findings from the analysis of the «Ofo» ritual symbol are used to read the results from the exegetical analysis of the symbol of the good shepherd because they have interface at the symbolic level. This feature enables the reader to grasp the message of the shepherd discourse of Jn 10:1-18.

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