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The Bible, Its Status and African Christian Theologies: Foundational Document or Stumbling Block?

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The relationship between the Bible and Christianity, including Christian theology, is traditionally strong and undisputed; however, in Christian theology in Africa, as elsewhere, the status of the biblical texts is contested. A brief consideration of the Bible as 'canon' leads to a broader discussion of how the Bible has to a certain extent become a 'problem' in African theology also, both because of theological claims made about its status, and - and in conjunction with - its perceived complicity in justifying human suffering and hardship. The legacy of the Bible as legitimating agent is dealt with from the vantage point of the history of interpretation; but the latter also provides for a 'rehumanising' of Scripture. In the end, this article is also an attempt to explain some of the different views of the Bible's status in Africa, and to address and mediate the resulting conflict by attending to proposals to view the biblical canon as 'historical prototype', foundational document' - as scripture. A number of important aspects regarding the continuing role of the Bible in African theologies in particular, conclude the essay.

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


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