This book introduces the concept "ordinary African readers' hermeneutics" in a study of the reception of the Bible in postcolonial Africa. It looks beyond the scholarly and official church-based material to the way in which the Bible, and discourses on or from the Bible, are utilized within a wide range of diverse contexts.
The author shows that "ordinary readers" can and did engage in meaningful and liberating hermeneutics. Using the Agikuyu's encounter with the Bible as an example, he demonstrates that what colonial discourses commonly circulated about Africans were not always the "truth", but mere "representations" that were hardly able to fix African identities, as they were often characterized by certain ambivalences, anxieties and contradictions.
The hybridized Biblical texts, readings and interpretations generated through retrieval and incorporation of the defunct pre-colonial past created interstices that became sites for assimilation, questioning and resistance.
The book explores how Africans employed "allusion" as a valid method of interpretation, showing how the critical principle of interpretation lies not in the Bible itself, but in the community of readers willing to cultivate dialogical imagination in order to articulate their vision.
The author proposes an African hermeneutical theory, which involves the fusion of both the "scholarly" and the "ordinary" readers in the task of biblical interpretation within a specific socio-cultural context.
Using a postcolonial model, this paper examines Matthew 16:13-23 in order to show that the literary and interpretation processes do not happen in a vacuum. Instead, the processes involve active participation of real people in the historical process of transformation from within particular socio-political and religio-cultural contexts.
A close examination of the cultural production, collective memory and literary imagination of the Matthean community, as revealed in Matthew 16:13-23, attest to the fact that that biblical hermeneutics just like other literary discourses has both sociohistorical origins and epistemological contexts.
Most importantly, the paper shows that the critical principle of interpretation lies not in the Bible itself, but in the community of readers willing to cultivate dialogical imagination for their own liberation. Critical reading loses its meaning if it cannot be applied within the lived reality of the “subaltern”.
The primary objective in this essay is to analyze the act of Bible translation and its effectiveness in shaping and enhancing the discourse of colonialism and the discourse of resistance. Using the translation of the Gikuyu New Testament as a case study, I seek to highlight two main issues.
In the first place, I seek to show that Bible translation in colonial Africa, though in most cases defended as a neutral, legitimate and benevolent act of redemption, actually disguises the colonial power situation.
Secondly, even though Bible translators aimed at dominating and restructuring the colonized's view of reality, the translation process was not in itself immune to the restructuring power of decolonization.
Friedrich Max Muller in his Introduction to The Science of Religion proposed what he referred to as "the science of religion". On his part, Wilhelm Max Muller followed his father in supporting a less partisan approach to religion in which scholars would seek those elements, patterns, and principles that could be found uniformly in the religions of all times and places.
Even though Muller's proposal was groundbreaking, when scrutinized under a postcolonial lens, the work reveals that both senior and younger Muller never moved away from the generally held principle that insisted on the miraculous character of Christianity.
Both Friedrich and Wilhelm Max Muller remained squarely in the milieu of European triumphant intellectualism. When one considers W. Max Muller's work on Egyptian mythology in The Mythology of All Races, it becomes apparent that the seemingly innocent and objective use of science in the representation of the "Other" is not as transparent as it appears.
In this article, I propose to show that W. Max Muller's study masks a construction of ancient Egyptians in which he takes upon himself the power to describe, name, define, and represent the "Other". Muller's oversimplification of Egypt mythology denies its complexity.