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Cutting and Blending Trees of Life (African Cultural Context and the Bible)

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A Decolonial Engagement with Akoto-Abutiate’s Hermeneutic of Grafting

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This paper is a critical engagement with Dorothy Bea Akoto-Abutiate’s book Proverbs and the African Tree of Life: Grafting Biblical Proverbs onto Ghanaian Eve Folk Proverbs (Leiden: Brill 2014). In the book, Akoto-Abutiate grafts together the African Ghanaian folk proverbs and the proverbial sayings in Proverbs 25:1-29:27 in order to appropriate the Biblical message in the Ghanaian context. For Akoto-Abutiate the Biblical book of Proverbs or the Bible in general is a ‘tree of life’ and so is/are the African cultural context(s). She, therefore, suggests the ‘hermeneutic of grafting’ as the most appropriate model through which engagement between African cultural context(s) and the Biblical text can productively happen without undermining the former. The African cultural context in this model is regarded as the dominant and pre-existing tree of life onto which the Biblical shoot(s) are grafted. This paper engages ‘hermeneutic of grafting’ from a decolonial perspective thereby highlighting the pros and cons of Akoto-Abutiate’s approach.

Affiliations: 1: University of South Africa Pretoria


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