African and European Readers of the Bible in Dialogue: In Quest of a Shared Meaning

  • Werner Lategan Stellenbosch University


This publication is the result of a four day conference initiated by the Protestant Church in the Netherlands and hosted at the University of Stellenbosch in 2006. Theologians from Africa and Europe participated, resulting in a publication that has a strong dialogical character. The conference intended to stimulate debate between African and European readers of the Bible, and to “reflect together on how readers from radically different contexts – professional and ordinary alike – may become allies in an ethically accountable way of relating the biblical text to their current (global) situations and how a process of mutual learning may be established.” (cf. back cover). In turn the publication serves as stimulus for further discussion and this intent is exemplified by the structure of the book, namely that each essay is responded to by one of the participants of the conference. This is a sensible approach, given that the matter of intercultural Bible reading and appropriation is an ongoing debate. In as much as it is an ongoing debate, it is of course not a new debate. Surprisingly enough some of the European participants confessed their ignorance regarding African ways of reading and interpreting the Bible, i.e. contextual hermeneutics.1 Simultaneously some African theologians boldly reject historical-criticism as a (useful) means of interpreting and appropriating the Bible, thus in effect ignoring the contribution of their European counterparts. Such self-inflicted ignorance and methodological isolation encountered in different corners of the globe is disturbing.