Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Exciting Developments in African Theology

Mark McEntire, an associate professor of religion at Belmont University, makes some interesting observations about recent developments in African Theology:

African theologians are rapidly overcoming this and other barriers to advanced academic training, though. The next century is going to witness a new wave of Bible translation in Africa. Existing translations, produced mostly by Western missionaries translating English versions into African target languages, will be replaced by direct translations from biblical languages into African languages by African scholars. This movement needs the full support of worldwide Christians with the resources to assist it.

If it is true that Africans possess a unique capability to read and understand the Old Testament, what will be done with that capability? Will Westerners seek to keep it under control, and harness it for their own use within a Western theological context, or will they help enable Africans to take this capability and run with it, developing their own traditions of biblical translation, interpretation, and theology which they can bring to a worldwide dialogue of what it means to live a life of faith informed by these ancient texts.
Click here to see the rest of the article.

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At Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 2:03:00 PM EST , Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

I find this thesis very compelling. I found that as I learned more of African culture during my years there, the OT became more and more alive and subtle things began to take on significance previously unnoticed. We in the west have much to learn from those who read the Bible without our glasses and blinders.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 5:49:00 PM EST , Blogger haitianministries said...


My experience has been similar as I have become better acquainted with various Afro-Caribbean cultures over the years. The discontinuities between modern Western culture and the Hebrew worldview found in scripture are much more easily bridged when one has learned to see things through an Afrocentric worldview.

Though, I think McEntire correctly points out that significant discontinuities exist between Afrocentric and Hebrew worldviews and culture and, thus, we should be carefull about overgeneralizing. Nevertheless, we have much to learn from our fellow Christians in Africa and the Caribbean.

At Monday, December 24, 2007 at 1:43:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that African Scholars will be successfull in this important project. If that happens, it will change the way Africans in general read their Bible. Currently, the Bible is read and interpreted through the Western lenses. Would some folks give African Scholars the advantage and opportunity of translating Scriptures directly from the original languages into african languages (without western influence)?

This is, of course, a huge task to undertake. It is , however, possible to get done.


At Monday, December 24, 2007 at 3:38:00 PM EST , Blogger haitianministries said...

Thanks for stopping by Lou. Good to hear from you.

At Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 11:13:00 AM EST , Blogger Steve Hayes said...

The problem with Western scholars translating the Bible is that thwey are uimbued with a spirit of modernity, and are trying to translate a premodern book. Let's hope the African scholars have not been over-modernised!

At Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 12:24:00 PM EST , Blogger haitianministries said...

Good point, Steve! Translations--like biblical interpretation itself--are not culturally and theologically neutral but reflect the social location and theological preferences of the translator. And if it is true, as the article suggests, that missionaries have often chosen to translate the Bible from English rather than the original Greek and Hebrew, this simply perpetuates such biases even further. Of course, Western-educated Africans should do better than Westerners themselves but, as you suggest, they are prone to coming up with translations that may not necessarily resonate with the worldview of the rank-and-file African Christian.


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