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African Contextual Hermeneutics

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Readers, Reading Communities, and Their Options between Text and Context

image of Religion and Theology

The role of the missionaries and their widespread dissemination of the Bible in the process of colonisation of Africa problematized the interpretation of its text, particularly in South Africa, where it was used both to legitimate apartheid and in the struggle for liberation. This paper documents the emergence of the “Tri-polar Model” (Grenholm and Patte, as modified by Draper) in African Contextual Hermeneutics, and problematises it in terms of the hegemonic role of the reader’s “ideo-theological orientation” (West). A new way forward is sought through emphasising this role of the reader, but also the possibility of a “willing suspension of disbelief” (Coleridge) in the construction of the “othered self” through “conversation” with the text (Gadamer) and the role of “reading communities” (Fish) in demanding accountability from reader(s).

Affiliations: 1: School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg Campus, Republic of South Africa


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