HTS : Theological Studies - Volume 70, Issue 1, 2014
Volume 70, Issue 1, 2014
Author J. Christo Van der MerweSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –13 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2699More Less
A narrative of church life today.
We live in a time when survival seems to be the biggest concern of most mainline congregations and denominations. How can the church possibly survive? This is a question that is asked in almost every corner of the institution. Since the 1960s, numerous books and articles have been published, trying to get a handle on why the mainline churches are in decline. Whatever the cause may be, decline is causing great fear and anxiety in the mainline churches. In an effort to answer the underlying question: 'What shall we do to turn the situation around?', some churches are simply trying to 'market' themselves and their message. Others try to 'do' church differently. Some try to rediscover the purpose of the church, et cetera. Cheryl Peterson argues that churches are, in fact, facing an ecclesial crisis, that is much more than a crisis of declining numbers and membership. There is a deeper and more basic issue that must be explored, one that has to do with the church's theological identity, and that is: what it means to be church? This article is about the question: Who is the church? And it answers the question on the basis of Peterson's thesis by means of a narrative of the church that commences with the Spirit.
Agter die syfers is gelowiges, gemeentes en die kerk, 'n prakties teologiese refleksie oor lidmaatskap : original researchAuthor W.J. (Kobus) SchoemanSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –10 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2677More Less
Behind the numbers are believers, congregations and the church, a practical theological reflection on membership.
Churches, especially mainline churches, reported the past few years a decline in their membership numbers. This trend of declining membership deserves attention and asks for a practical theological reflection. Behind the declining statistics are believers, congregations and churches that should be part of a broader reflection. Membership not only describes a static and geographic relationship, it can also be described as dynamic and fluid. The purpose of this article is to discuss this declining trend of church membership from a practical theological perspective. This phenomenon is discussed for the church in general and then the specific situation of the Dutch Reformed Church is described in more depth. The latest Church mirror data (an empirical survey in the DRC) is used as a quantitative lens. Against this background it is clear that the relationship between member and congregation exists within a dynamic and changing context, which can no longer be described in simplistic terms. Membership should be seen as a fluid and variable concept that describes the relationship with the congregation. The challenge is to develop a new ecclesiology with new terms and metaphors to describe this relationship.
Author Yolanda DreyerSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –8 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2808More Less
Resilience as answer to the problem of church schism.
The article investigates theories of resilience as applied to individuals and groups. From a group perspective, the potential of and obstacles to resilience are examined against the background of post-apartheid South Africa. Individual perpetrators and victims, as well as corporate bodies such as institutionalised faith communities have been affected. For the liberation of South Africa's wounded soul, resilience is needed. In the article, psychological dimensions of resilience theory are brought into dialogue with the theological hermeneutical model of Ernst Fuchs in order to show how an encounter with the Jesus narrative of care for wounded people can foster resilience, liberate and bring healing to both faith communities and to this predominantly religious country.
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –11 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2751More Less
Tendencies in film hermeneutics.
Hollywood is synonymous with the tradition of images that are used to create emotion, to strengthen attachment, and to encourage imitation. In a certain sense these values are also encouraged by the church as institution. Scholars who study the connection between cinematography and theology acknowledge that the cinema has become the 'principal new church' for post-secularised believers. Films are regarded among the 'big books' of 'postmodern culture'. In this article it is argued that film hermeneutics should be regarded as an epistemological movement which has departed from a typographical culture, including logocentrism, phonocentrism, and text-focused cognition. The movement is towards a visual culture, including audiovisual and virtual realities, and is contextualised in a cybercommunity. Tendencies in films with biblical and religious dimensions and themes, including the way in which the Christ figure is portrayed, are discussed. In this article the value of film hermeneutics - that is, the 'textuality of the screen' - as public theology, is also identified.
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –6 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2713More Less
This article will argue that the recent turn towards lived theology or religion in practical theology can offer a useful hermeneutic to interpret the impact of the Harry Potter series on the spiritual formation and identity creation of adolescents. In practical theology there has been a turn towards lived theology or religion as lived religion has moved out of institutions into social-cultural phenomena as people seek to find meaning and purpose for their lives in alternative places to institutionalised religion.
The crucifixion of consumerism and power and the resurrection of a community glimpsed through Meylahn's wounded Christ in conversation with Rowling's Christ discourse in the Harry Potter series : original researchSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –7 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2794More Less
Like some fantasies (including Lord of the rings and the Chronicles of Narnia), the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling makes a social comment on a particular dominant discourse within a particular sociocultural context. One of Rowling's social comments is the dehumanising and fragmenting effect of the power and consumerist discourse in Western society - where great value is placed on what a person owns. An example of this theme in the series is the characters of the Dursleys, as prime examples of 'Muggles'. Although it is not power that Muggles seek, but rather to fit in by having what the Jones' have, which fits in well with the capitalist discourse as developed by Lacan - as discussed by Meylahn. Rowling juxtaposes this discourse with the alternative sacred story of the Christ discourse (community and fellowship are more important than material possessions), that she has subtly woven into her narrative. This alternative discourse challenges adolescents' identity and spirituality by offering the Christ discourse as an alternative discourse to the dominant discourse of consumerism and power they live in. In his article, 'Holistic redemptive pastoral ministry in the fragmented transit hall of existence', Meylahn (2010) speaks of a 'wounded Christ' healing a 'wounded community' and this ties in well with the Christ discourse presented by Rowling. Meylahn gives us a useful hermeneutical tool to interpret the actions of some of Rowling's characters. Hence, Meylahn's 'wounded Christ', will be brought into conversation with the actions of some of Rowling's characters. By bringing Rowling into conversation with Meylahn, pastors and youth workers are presented with an ideal tool to help guide adolescents towards a more spiritual life that is not bound to the dehumanising discourse of consumerism and power.
Author Elaine M. WainwrightSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –6 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2720More Less
In this article, I undertake a contrapuntal reading (a type of reading developed within postcolonial studies) engaging the Gospel of Matthew and the current global and local contexts of migration. The work demonstrates the mode and the significance of such readings and ways in which the approach could be brought to bear in a range of contemporary contexts and in relation to any number of current global and local issues.
Messianic and Christological interpretation in Iô`Dâdh of Merw's Commentary on Ezekiel : original researchSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –4 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2691More Less
In agreement with his East Syriac heritage, Iô`Dâdh's commentary on Ezekiel does not contain any direct messianic interpretations. There are, however, interpretations that link the text to Christ or are of importance for Iô`Dâdh's Christology. As far as Christology is concerned, his interpretation of Ezekiel 1:27-28 is important, where he rejects interpretations related to the two natures of Christ. The interpretation of Theodoret of Cyrus is especially relevant in this regard, but also others, such as Gregory. In addition to this, in some instances Iô`Dâdh sees a double meaning in a text or a typological reference. These texts receive attention in this paper, with special attention to Iô`Dâdh's exegesis of Ezekiel 1 and 47. In his interpretation of Ezekiel 1, he looks in the first place at the time of the prophet, for example in referring to different interpretations of the living creatures and their faces, such as the four regions of the world, the four seasons, the four elements or kings of Babylonia, of the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks. It can, however, also refer to Christ, with the four creatures representing the Gospels. The river of Ezekiel 47 is also linked to the dispensation of the New Testament. These texts are studied in detail in this paper, especially in comparison to the interpretation of Theodoret.
Author Ronald H. Van der BerghSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –6 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2730More Less
This article investigates the reception of Luke 19:8b in the works of Chrysostom. The ambiguous nature of Luke 19:8b in its Lukan context provides a glimpse into Chrysostom's thoughts on this passage. In asking the question of how Chrysostom viewed Zacchaeus's salvation to be effected (cf. the direct speech of Jesus in Luke 19:9-10), the article demonstrates that Chrysostom's consistent concern, wherever reference to Luke 19:8b is made, is with adequate compensation to people who have been wronged. The article also points out how Chrysostom did not shy away from making slight changes to the biblical narrative to convey this message.
The harvest and the kingdom : an interpretation of the Sower (Mk 4:3b-8) as a parable of Jesus the Galilean : original researchAuthor Ernest Van EckSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –10 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2715More Less
This article attempts to read the parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3b-8) as a parable of the historical Jesus. In this reading, the focus is different from almost all previous interpretations of the parable. It is proposed that the Sower should not be understood in terms of realistic agricultural practices in 1st century Palestine, but in terms of the realism of the political, social and economic world in which the parable is told by Jesus. The conclusion reached is that the parable asks its first hearers to align themselves with the kingdom of God, and describes what the results of this decision can be. In a world with little choice, the parable gives a vision on how to cope in an exploitative world.
'Look, the place where they put him' (Mk 16:6) : the space of Jesus' tomb in early Christian memory : original researchSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –8 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2741More Less
The tomb of Jesus posed two main problems for early Christians: firstly, the earliest memory of the tomb seems to recall it as the site of the dishonourable burial of a man executed as an enemy of the Roman imperial system; and secondly, the narrative of the empty tomb stood for several reasons in an ambiguous relationship to the announcement of the resurrection. Yet within three centuries, that 'place' had been rehabilitated both architecturally and ritually (memorialised together with the site of the crucifixion) as 'sacred space' in the Church of the Resurrection (the typical Eastern designation for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). For discussion, see Morris 2005:33-34). By about 380 CE, Cyril of Jerusalem could thus pronounce this place 'the very centre of the world' (Cat. 13.28). The present article argues that 'the place where they put him' was not originally venerated as 'sacred space', but rather was remembered as a place of shame; and also describes several different narrative and theological strategies, introduced in the canonical gospels and interpreted by early Christian readers, that changed how the tomb of Jesus was remembered and that allowed for it eventually to be regarded as 'sacred space'.
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –7 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2756More Less
It is generally acknowledged that the Great Commission at the end of Matthew's Gospel is a dramatic and fitting end to the evangelist's narrative. In the eyes of many scholars this final pericope does more than simply conclude the Gospel; it serves as a summary of the text's major themes and even provides the interpretative key by which the earlier story should be read. This view, however, is questionable for two reasons. Firstly, the Great Commission introduces new themes and motifs into the Gospel story, which means that it cannot be viewed as a mere summary of what has come before. Secondly, this passage does not mention all the major themes of the Gospel. While some important motifs are included in the final pericope, there are others that receive no mention at all. This point too casts considerable doubt on the view that Matthew 28:16-20 serves to summarise Matthew's story of Jesus. Moreover, the Great Commission, despite recalling a number of earlier themes, looks more towards the time of the future Church than back to the time of 'the historical Jesus'. It is therefore better viewed as a bridging text that concludes one Christian story about the mission of Jesus and introduces another story about the history of the Church.
Robertson's century : the reception and impact of an epoch-making grammar of the Greek New Testament : original researchAuthor Gerhard SwartSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –9 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2747More Less
The author endeavours, firstly, to present a vivid account of the reception that A.T. Robertson's A grammar of the Greek New Testament in the light of historical research found in scholarly circles when first published (in 1914) and during the ensuing years; secondly, to probe the question whether, during the course of the past century, the renown of both the man and the book has outlasted the scientific value and the actual utilisation of 'Robertson' in New Testament commentaries and scholarly publications; and thirdly, to address a few grammatical points stated by Robertson that seem to have gone unchallenged despite major shifts affecting the study of language generally, and New Testament Greek specifically, since the publication of his Grammar.
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –8 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2698More Less
Fear of just censure and the sense of shame it produced kept Roman citizens from doing wrong (Cic. Rep. 5.6). Invective functioned socially as a strategy of social sanction. One amongst a number of commonly identified topics of accusation in the Roman tradition of ridicule was unusual appearance, clothing or demeanour. Not surprisingly, John the Baptist emerges from the desert attired distinctly, demoniacs come out of the tombs so fierce that no one would pass by them (Mt 8:28), a man with an unclean spirit lives amongst the tombs and, even though adorned with fetters and chains, cannot be controlled (Mk 5:15-20). Herod pretentiously puts on the royal robes and is eaten by worms and dies (Ac 12:21). A woman uninvited enters a rich man's dinner party with an alabaster flask of perfume and anoints the feet of Jesus (Lk 7:38). Clearly, in each case, unusual appearance, clothing, and demeanour suggest a lapse from the appropriate, socially acceptable style of deportment and clothing. Oddities in dress and demeanour were equated with oddities in behaviour and provided a powerful rhetorical means of excluding undesirables from society.
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –6 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2760More Less
The author focuses on the historically-reliable gospel pericopes in which a woman is the lead character. She argues that these women provide the complete gospel - Jesus teaches, heals, preaches and is anointed in the context of female-based stories and, of course, the women take him from conception to resurrection. Jackson argues, not only from an analysis of the texts themselves, but also from her personal experiences in the Middle East and Africa.
Author Ananda Geyser-FoucheSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –12 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2775More Less
When the last texts of Qumran cave 4 were published, another text that refers to crucifixion came to the fore, namely 4Q524 14:1-6, part of which is verbatim the same as 11QTa 64:6-13. Both texts add to the Pentateuchal text by giving the reason why persons were hanged. Therefore I will compare these two texts with each other, but also with their Pentateuchal parallels Deuteronomy 21:18-23, 22:1-2 and 22:11. I will attempt to explain the differences against the social text, by studying the crucifixion and/or hanging practices of neighbouring cultures (social text) and by reading these two texts against the fragmented text of 4QpNahum 3-4 I:7-8, which is a Qumran text that deals with execution.
Between the Spirit and the Word : reading the Gendered African Pentecostal Bible : original researchAuthor Musa DubeSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –7 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2651More Less
This article reviews the gendered Pentecostal Bible as documented by various researchers. It assesses how the prophetic-spirit framework encounters and functions within the framework of the inerrant but patriarchal written word. The Spirit framework is an oral canon that opens spaces of gender empowerment. Yet Pentecostal scholars problematise the supposedly liberating Spirit, highlighting that it sometimes denies the materiality of human existence and inhabits the constraining parameters of patriarchal church structures. The article suggests that in addition to the Spirit-Word framework, new Pentecostal theological categories, such as healing and deliverance and the prosperity gospel need to be investigated for the new spaces they open for gender justice. 'The authority of the Bible as the word of God, and the experience of the Holy Spirit form two of the most important sources of Pentecostal theology' (Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu 2004:390).
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –12 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2773More Less
The archive of the Judean woman Babatha, with its 35 legal papyri in Aramaic and Greek (P. Yadin 1-35), which was hidden by her in a cave on the western side of the Dead Sea in 135 CE and rediscovered in 1961, offers unique insights into the social world of the region from 94-132 CE. This is because legal documents reflect significant opportunities and challenges in people's lives and frequently bring to the surface underlying social issues and pressures. Babatha's documents, which reflect lively interactions between Judeans, Nabateans and Romans across a wide range of situations, do precisely this. They allow us better to understand the context in which New Testament texts appeared and how they made sense to their original audiences. Matthew's Gospel, with its strong interest in Judean/non-Judean relationships, is particularly susceptible to such treatment. In this article, P. Yadin 11, a remarkable document in Greek from 124 CE recording a loan of 60 denarii from a Roman centurion stationed at En-gedi to Babatha's second husband, is analysed for what it reveals about likely understandings of centurions in that setting. The findings of this investigation are then applied to Matthew 8:5-13 in the interests of a socially realistic interpretation.
Source: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –11 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2716More Less
This article explores the effects of cognitive and social memory theory on the quest for the historical Jesus. It is not the case that all memory is hopelessly unreliable, but it is the case that it commonly is. Memory distortion is disturbingly common, and much worse, there is no way to distinguish between memories of actual events and memories of invented events. The Gospel of Matthew was used to illustrate this very difficulty. This article also draws attention to the fact that although numerous criteria have been developed, refined and used extensively in order to distinguish between original Jesus material and later church material, those criteria have long been unsatisfactory, and most recently, because of the effects of thinking about memory theory and orality, have been revealed to be bankrupt. Since memory theory shows that people are unable to differentiate accurate memory from inaccurate and wholly invented memory, and since the traditional quest criteria do not accomplish what they were intended to, this article argues that scholarship about Jesus has been forced into a new no quest.
Author Pieter G.R. De VilliersSource: HTS : Theological Studies 70, pp 1 –8 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2749More Less
This article analyses the experience of divine presence within an intimate divine-human relationship, as conceptualised in Philo's writings, and compares this experience with mystical passages in John's Gospel. The article explains their understanding of God and how the union with a transcendent God is mediated. The article investigates this union in terms of an underlying mystical pattern that existed in the 1st century CE. The pattern explains similarities of Philo's works with John's Gospel that indicates the former's mystical nature. Special attention is given to Philo's accounts because his own mystical experiences and views are relatively unknown in New Testament scholarship, whilst John's Gospel is compared to show how this pattern existed within a Jewish-Christian setting. After an introduction to the relevance of mysticism in contemporary research on Philo and John, the article, without trying to establish any genetic link between Philo and John, evaluates the understanding of mystical union in the light of Philo's own mystical experience and pronouncements. Then follows a discussion of Philo's understanding of the divine longing for union with humanity despite the divine transcendence, with attention to the direct and indirect manner in which this union is mediated. Finally, similar motifs in John's Gospel are investigated.