• Wilfred Sebothoma University of South Africa
Keywords: Contextualization, Biblical research, Dasein


Meaning is determined from the context of history and ‘language’. i e understood as the totality of human expression. The latter allegation is in keeping with phenomenological existential anthropology, namely the view of the human person as ‘becoming’ or Dasein. In the absence of timeless language or existence on earth, the human person lives in a continual ‘becoming’ of the present moment, which is partly determined by the past. The future direction can only be determined by the given, namely the past and present. Meaning thus changes from person to person, from generation to generation even within the same linguistic tradition. Communication is a primary factor in the Umwelt (or world) of Dasein, and this can be achieved through the process of understanding, by which one can continuously move from one context of existence to another. Up till recently exegesis confidently operated from a customary presupposition of the existence of immutable truths (or tenets) and (abstract?) universal language which speaks eternally, notwithstanding Dasein’s developmental, cultural and intellectual limitations. In fact, the latter were denied by the view of human person as fixed and static. Now we know that truth is relative to the cumulative progression of knowledge in space and time (i e history), acquired through research. Today we can understand a text by carefully relating it to its context and then translating its message to our context – a movement from one context to another i e contextualization. The latter, as ‘translation’ or ‘re-incarnation’ would go deeper than mere interpretation or application of message which, because of their largely speculative or sometimes arbitrary nature, led to unbridled proliferation of publications precipitating a sad cul-de-sac in many fields of biblical research.