WHY NOT POSTCOLONIAL BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN (SOUTH) AFRICA: STATING THE OBVIOUS OR LOOKING FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE?

Jeremy Punt

Abstract


During the last five decades of the 20th century, the African continent has
systematically rid itself of the direct control of the colonial powers. Yet in (South)
Africa and elsewhere on the continent, there has until now been very few attempts to
introduce postcolonial biblical criticism as a credible hermeneutical approach for
the subcontinent. In the South African theological context with its two dominant
theological approaches, African and Black Theology, a variety of hermeneutical
approaches is represented across a wide spectrum. However, the traditional
approaches has until now largely carried the day, both in hermeneutical positioning
and its application to and use for interpreting biblical texts. This is certainly true of
the wider, popular and ecclesial arena where the Bible is used, but is also the case
in the academy. Postcolonial criticism has not been seized upon as a productive
method for reading and interpreting the Bible, although its use has obvious benefits
also within South Africa’s post-Apartheid society. Postcolonial biblical criticism is
nevertheless eminently suitable for a context characterised by the lingering colonial
legacy, the continuous threat of neo-colonialism, and the position of displaced
persons and refugees. This article considers possible reasons for the failure of
postcolonial criticism to impact upon biblical studies in (South) Africa on a large
scale, when it offers such obvious hermeneutical potential, spin-offs, as well as the
opportunity to approach the Bible from a different than the traditional vantage
point.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/91-0-1103

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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