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Full Access Texts, Authority, and Community in the South African ‘Ibandla lamaNazaretha’ (Church of the Nazaretha), 1910-1976

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Texts, Authority, and Community in the South African ‘Ibandla lamaNazaretha’ (Church of the Nazaretha), 1910-1976

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This six-decade history of textual production in the Nazaretha church seeks to illuminate the changing practices of governance and community in the church during this period. The church’s documentary history provides insight into its leaders’ efforts to use texts to govern, centralize and discipline their geographically far-flung, often unruly congregations. In addition to focusing on the documentary regime instituted by the church’s leaders, this article also explores the reading and writing practices that animated ordinary believers. For laity, as well as for leaders, texts and a general range of literate practices were a means of knitting themselves together in opposition to the incursion of the state, and in distinction to contemporary rival Christians. Finally, this article also seeks to position the texts of Nazaretha leaders and laity as significant material objects in their own right.

Affiliations: 1: Trinity College Cambridge, CB2 1TQ, UK, Email: jmc67@cam.ac.uk

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