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The Bible and Multiscripturality in South Africa: Moving Beyond the Boon-or-Bane Debate1

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A nominally Christian country, South Africa abounds with varieties of Christianity, all of which ultimately subscribe to the Bible as foundation document. Often, however, the appropriation of the Bible as a symbol is as much a problem as different and radically opposing interpretations of it: ownership of the Bible is widely contested and biblical hermeneutics is truly a site of struggle. However, not only is the need for an ecumenical approach to the Bible becoming increasingly pronounced, but ecumenicity will have to be broadened out to include multiscripturality as well. South Africa is simply also a multi-religious country with a number of other religions with their scriptures in close attendance. This demands a reappropriation of the Christian Bible as scripture amidst many other scriptures, and requires the development of an adequate, responsible and relevant multiscripturality. At the same time, it is necessary to move beyond over-simplified 'realist' options for conceptualising scripture and its role in religion. Perceiving scripture as activity rather than texts allows for investigating the interrelationship between scripture and identity, within a more adequate theology of scripture.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Theology University of Fort Hare Private Bag X1314, Alice, 5700 Republic of South Africa


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