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The ‘Jerusalemgangers’ as an Illustration of Resistance against the British Empire and Nineteenth Century Biblical Interpretation in Southern Africa

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Chapter Summary

This investigation of nineteenth century biblical interpretation in Southern Africa and its significance in resistance against British imperialism suggests that one should clearly distinguish between the use of 'exodus' as a figurative or metaphoric description of the migration of sizable population groups as a result of various reasons and use of the concept to describe a specifically religiously-motivated journey which draws deliberately on the biblical tradition. The name Jerusalemgangers also requires some reflection and explanation. It is striking that during the nineteenth century numerous examples may be found of utopian construals of 'Jerusalem', from Brigham Young in Utah to secular Zionism across Europe. Although it is clear that the views held by the Jerusalemgangers were not representative of the larger population, they are an example of a small group who used the Bible as a narrative frame to establish their own hybrid identity by means of mimicry and resistance.

Keywords: British imperialism; Jerusalemgangers; nineteenth century biblical interpretation; Southern Africa; Utah; Zionism



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