EARLY INDICATIONS OF THE BIBLE’S PLACE IN PUBLIC MORALITY: THE BATLHAPING, WILLIAM BURCHELL AND THE BIBLE

Gerald West

Abstract


William Burchell, the intrepid English explorer was one of the first travellers to
bring a Bible among the Tlhaping people of southern Africa. Through a careful,
close and cross-grained reading of Burchell’s account of his visit among the
Tlhaping, I reflect on an emerging trajectory of the Bible’s place in public morality
in South Africa. Though the focus of my paper is historical hermeneutics –
attempting to analyse the foundational apprehensions that constitute what may be
called a neo-indigenous biblical hermeneutic – the paper will also briefly explore
the more modern territory of the Bible in contemporary “new” South African
morality. In other words, the latter part of the paper will try to make sense of our
present moment in which the Bible as a resource for public morality seems to be
trapped between its neo-indigenous hermeneutical heritage and its neo-liberal
future.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/82-0-905

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

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