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(Southern) African Anglican Biblical Interpretation: A Postcolonial Project

  • Gerald West

Abstract

This article argues that context is an important fourth factor, alongside the more familiar three, in understanding Anglicanism in (Southern) Africa. As imperialism was an important part of the early context of the Bible’s presence within Southern African Anglicanism, the bulk of the present article charts the contours of imperial Southern African Anglicanism. Having mapped this territory, the article then probes what a postcolonial analysis of Southern African Anglican biblical interpretation might look like, outlining two related components: a descriptive component and an interventionist component. The descriptive task asks how Southern African Anglicans have read the Scriptures, and the interventionist task asks how Southern African Anglicans should read the Scriptures. The former requires a careful Foucault-like ‘archaeological’ analysis and the latter a recognition of the contextually-related resources of African biblical scholarship.

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School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

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2. Greer, Rowan A., Anglican Approaches to Scripture: From the Reformation to the Present (New York: Herder & Herder, 2006), pp. 1331.

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7. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. xix.

8. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. xix.

9. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. xxiii.

10. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. xxiii.

11. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. xvi.

12. I place ‘Southern’ in brackets because much of what I say may be applicable to the Africa more widely; however, my focus will be on Southern African Anglicanism.

13. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. 161.

14. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. ix.

15. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, p. 2. See also Bernard, G.W., The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).

16. I drop the bracket around ‘Southern’ at this point because my focus will be on Southern Africa. The earlier bracketing of ‘Southern’ was by way of invitation to my colleagues in other African countries. It will return later.

17. Greer, , Anglican Approaches to Scripture, pp. 3, 4.

18. Sundkler, BengtSteed, Christopher, A History of the Church in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 42.

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21. Sundkler, and Steed, , A History of the Church in Africa, p. 64.

22. Here, I use another awkward bracket, signalling that though the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is indeed Southern African, much of what is documented is centred on South Africa.

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57. Comaroff, and Comaroff, , Christianity, Colonialism and Consciousness in South Africa, p. 278.

58. Worsnip, Michael E., Between the Two Fires: the Anglican Church and Apartheid, 1948–1957 (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1991), p. 5.

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61. Suberg, , The Anglican Tradition in South Africa, p. 29.

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63. Worsnip, , Between the Two Fires, p. 9.

64. Worsnip, , Between the Two Fires, p. 10.

65. Worsnip, , Between the Two Fires, p. 10.

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84. Ukpong, , ‘Rereading the Bible with African Eyes’, p. 6.

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91. Ukpong, , ‘Rereading the Bible with African Eyes’; Ukpong, , ‘The Parable of the Shrewd Manager’.

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99. Dube, Musa W. (ed.), Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001); Teresa Okure, ‘Feminist Interpretation in Africa’, in Fiorenza (ed.), Searching the Scriptures: A Feminist Introduction (New York: Crossroads, 1993), pp. 76–85.

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1. School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

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