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

Werner Lategan


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

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