Some Aspects of Seminal Historical Factors that led to the Redress Process in Old Testament Scholarship in South Africa

Keywords: Old Testament Scholarship, Colonialism, American Board Missionaries, Congregational Church, John L. Dube, William Wilcox, Natal, ANC


This article considers certain seminal historical markers of how South Africa arrived at the current state of Old Testament scholarship in South Africa. Taking a lead from Ramantswana’s recent denouement of the development of this discipline in South Africa, this article considers the tasks that lie ahead with due regard to Mosala’s (1986:119) recognition that for liberation theology to be effective, the lingering ideologies that confuse the issue need to be dismantled. Mosala saw the necessity for a methodological framework to undertake a “de-ideologising” hermeneutical project. For instance, the current political clamour for de-colonisation portrays the contribution of the missionaries as negative because, having arrived with colonialism, there is a perception that they colluded in the imperialist exploitation of the indigenous peoples of South Africa. One aspect of “de-ideologising” the lingering social damage is the re-assessment of the positive aspects of the missionary endeavour in the face of the Colonialist drive. Not only did the missionaries bring “knowledge of our high birth-right … We belong to the human family, and are heirs of eternal salvation”, but William Wilcox for instance, facilitated the resistance to the notion of racial and intellectual superiority. It was this resistance which eventually culminated in a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa.

Author Biography

Annette Henrietta Evans, University of the Free State
Research Associate,Postgraduate School, UFS