As an academic journal HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies (HTS) disseminates the results of the theological research of national and international scholars.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of HTS Teologiese Studies /Theological Studies as of vol. 1(1943) to current.

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  • Jesus: The apex of biblical canons

    Jean-Claude Loba Mkole (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    This article aims at showing how Jesus is the apex of biblical canons, the authority that grants the status of sacredness to Christian, canonical and biblical books. It uses an intercultural approach involving three cultural frames of reference whereby the Protestant Church leadership will represent a contemporary culture, while the Roman Catholic Church stands for traditional church culture, and Jesus’ authority reflects an original biblical culture. Consequently, the article consists of three parts: the impact of Scripture on the contemporary Protestant Church in Africa, the authority of biblical canon in the Roman Catholic Church and Jesus’ authority in original biblical cultures. Contribution: The article has established that in the biblical cultures, Jesus’ authority is recognised in canonical gospels and in extra canonical writings. In the Catholic Church, this authority is celebrated in the liturgy, expanded from the canonical biblical books and translated into the canon law. In the current Protestant Church in Africa, Jesus’ authority empowers the ministers to significantly impact their audiences.
  • Understanding Islamic law in the context of vaccination: Reducing the doubt cast on COVID-19 vaccines

    Kosim Kosim (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    One solution to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is getting vaccinated. The promotion of vaccines through religion helps to control the pandemic. One of the causes of doubts about vaccination in society is religious understanding. Vaccination has an important correlation with Islamic law or Islamic jurisprudence. This research aims to analyse the effect of understanding Islamic law on doubts about vaccination. This research used quantitative pre-experimental designs. The research sample consisted of 160 people who were not vaccinated. The sampling technique involved a non-random sampling method. The data analysis is descriptive and inferential. The results of this research showed the following: (1) the understanding of Islamic law related to the status of halal and haram has a positive influence on the Muslim community’s willingness to vaccinate, (2) the understanding of the emergency concept can increase confidence in vaccines and (3) the education related to understanding Islamic law can effectively reduce doubts about vaccination. Contribution: This research provides knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccine from the perspective of Islamic law. This research provides a new strategy to reduce public doubts about vaccination.
  • Leadership development: Effective tool for urban Christian missions in the 21st century in Nigeria

    Akinyemi O. Alawode (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    Urban Christian missions battle with many challenges in this 21st century, such that there is a need for a strategic plan to do missions in the cities. Over the years, missions’ emphasis has focused on village missions and underdeveloped places. However, there is a clarion call to shift attention to urban Christian missions in recent times because the world is witnessing a massive migration of people from villages to cities for greener pastures. Christian missions’ opportunities are evident in the cities because the cities attract all kinds of people. Urban Christian missions involve assembling converts and nurturing them to maturity, enabling them to teach others about Christ, and to do likewise to ensure that the Christian faith continues. The article employed a descriptive research method, and it investigated the task of developing leaders for active Christian missions in urban areas of Nigeria because of insufficient leaders who could adequately handle Christian mission work. Contribution: This article is in line with the focus and scope of HTS Theological Studies in the sense that the journal is an acclaimed Open Access journal with broad coverage that promotes multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary religious aspects of studies in the international theological arena and the journal’s publication criteria are based on rigorous research, accountable methodologies and novel findings based on sound ethical standards. Also, the research reveals that leadership training must be Bible-based and the Bible is the basis for Theological Studies.
  • Conceptualisation of missio hominum as an expression of imago Dei: From missio Dei to missio hominum

    Jonas Thinane (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    Academic data show little evidence that the concept of the missio hominum was ever explored beyond its context as developed by Nico Smith. There is little to no research that has conceptualised this phenomenon in light of imago Dei and the role it should play in fulfilling missio Dei’s mandate. It uses the relational nature of the Union of the Divine Trinity derived in imago Dei to conceptualise the idea of the missio hominum in the broader context of missio Dei. It aims to examine the role of missio hominum in fulfilling the objectives and scope of missio Dei. Missio Dei here means the mission of God, which uses human relationships as an instrument to achieve the eternal goal of missio Dei. Nico Smith’s account is used here to support the need for missio hominum within the broader understanding of missio Dei. This research is a first step towards a deeper understanding of the missio hominum in service to missio Christos and missio spiritus and the collective participation of missio ecclesiae towards the goal of missio Dei. The academic focus on missio hominum from Smith’s perspective is lacking or neglected by missiology scholars. Contribution: This article, therefore, presents overarching research areas in missiology, which are important for the overall and further understanding of missio Dei. It uses literature research as a method to gain knowledge about missio hominum.
  • Interreligious relation: Position of women in strengthening Christian and Muslim bonds

    Hadi Pajarianto (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    Strengthening Muslim–Christian relations is very important for a nation such as Indonesia that has plurality in terms of tribes, ethnicity and religion. This study aims to analyse the role of Muslim women who live in a pluralistic socio-religious situation. This is a qualitative research that uses purposive sampling to determine the informants. The approach used by the Discovering Cultural Themes model is to understand the symptoms of the many themes, cultures, values and cultural symbols. Data analysis was conducted by using software for qualitative research, which is needed in managing data found from the field, in this case, nVivo Basic 12.00 for Windows. The results show that Muslim women translate justice, empathy and rationality in religion by building relationships with other religions. This attitude is part of Islamic teachings that contain moderate, accommodating and tolerant aspects. In addition, culture has encouraged women to blend in and form egalitarian equality in the social and cultural realm. The culture of generosity and mutual help has become a tradition both in religious and customary activities. Contribution: This article provides an insight into the contribution of Muslim women in strengthening Muslim–Christian relations. This agenda is very important because Islam and Christianity have the largest adherents in Indonesia. This contribution is very important and crucial in the midst of radicalism issue in Indonesia lately.
  • τὸ δικαίωμα ἔμπροσθεν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ (Ruth 4:7): An analysis of the Greek rendering of the Hebrew legal aspects in Ruth 4:7 for characterising the Greek translator’s translation technique

    Beatrice Bonanno (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    Being a literal and relatively precise translation of the Hebrew text, the Septuagint (LXX) of the book of Ruth attests divergences or variants in relation to the Masoretic text (MT) in the details of the text. These variants, if not inconsistent or linked to a different Hebrew Vorlage, could be explained as a translator’s choice to promote clarity, add a particular nuance or introduce innovation at the narrative level of the text. This is, for instance, the case in the legal process that runs through the fourth chapter of the book. Amongst all of the legal aspects illustrated in Ruth 4, this contribution presents a case study, focusing on the interjection in Ruth 4:7 that explains the legal custom. After analysing the equivalence between the Hebrew text and its Greek rendering, this article offers several new insights aimed to produce a more nuanced characterisation of the translation technique of the Greek translator of the LXX-Ruth and a clearer understanding of the nuances, innovations and specificities of the LXX-Ruth. Contribution: This article contributes to the ‘Focus and Scope’ of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies because it deals with both the textual history of the Bible – more precisely, with its process of translation from Hebrew into Greek – and the exegesis of the LXX. Indeed, it highlights new insights into the translation technique of the Greek translator of the LXX-Ruth and on the nuances, innovations and specificities of the LXX-Ruth.
  • Sanctuary schematics and temple ideology in the Hebrew Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls: The import of Numbers

    Joshua J. Spoelstra (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    The temple schematics in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), that is, New Jerusalem and Temple Scroll, has often been comparatively examined with the sanctuary structures in the Hebrew Bible (HB) (Ezk 40–48 and Num 2). Typically, in scholarship, the irreconcilable differences between all accounts (regarding the size, shape, name-gate ordering, etc.) is underscored, thus rendering a literary conundrum. This article argues that New Jerusalem and Temple Scroll drew from both Ezekiel 40–48 and Numbers 2 in different ways, purporting the sect(s)’s theologies and ideologies which accords, further, with the life setting of the Qumran communities; the influence of Numbers in the DSS is underscored. These aspects include (1) the eastern orientation of sacred structures and the compound at Khirbet Qumran, (2) the precise locale of the communities at the Dead Sea vis-à-vis Ezekiel 47 and (3) the desert encampment configuration together with its militaristic overtones in Numbers, which corresponds to the DSS sect(s)’s apocalyptic expectations as indicated in the War Scroll. Consequently, the Qumran sect(s) truly saw itself as an alternative priesthood of the forthcoming restored temple of God, even as in the interim they functioned as an alternative sanctuary (4QFlor; 4QMMT; 1QS). The import of Numbers upon the DSS sect(s)’s temple ideologies and priestly theologies is, therefore, equivalent to that of Ezekiel. Contribution: This article traces theological themes of temple and priestly ideologies between and among the Qumran literature and Hebrew Scriptures; both the respective library or canon and methodological approach are core to the historical thought’s aim and scope of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies.
  • Hair matters: The psychoanalytical significance of the virtual absence of hair in the Book of Job in an African context

    Pieter van der Zwan (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    Compared with other biblical books that are named after its main protagonist, Job mentions many (at least 72) body parts. Yet hair is explicitly referred to only once, even when it plays a relatively significant role in other books in the Hebrew Bible. This virtual absence of hair in the book can at first glance be explained by the shaving of Job’s ‘head’ as early as 1:20, using a different verb, גזז, from the one in Leviticus 13:33 and 14:8.9, גלח, where the context is that of צָרָעַת, wrongly translated as ‘leprosy’, but probably referring to the same skin problem from which Job is suffering. This connection to the skin is important, because the two body parts seem to be almost mutually exclusive, as also suggested by 1:21 immediately after the aforementioned shaving, where Job considers himself to be essentially עָרֹם [naked]. This means that hair has, amongst other functions, also a clothing-like role in the book of Job. Three questions will hence be explored: how ‘absence’ is to be psychoanalytically interpreted and more specifically, what consequences all of this has on the virtual absence of hair in the Book of Job and, finally, what relevance this absence has for the South African context. Contribution: Applying a psychoanalytical perspective to both the body and to absence, the biblical text is contextualised on a broader horizon than what the purely historical-critical approach can render. The additional African context widens the relevance of the ancient book even further.
  • The Küng is dead, long live the Küng: The value of Hans Küng’s theology

    Brian C. Macallan (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    Hans Küng’s influence on the church and its theology in the 20th-century theology has been immense. It has also not been without controversy, from his role at Vatican II to the loss of his teaching licence and his often-combative relationship with Benedict XVI. In 2021 Hans Küng died at the age of 93. This article offers an autoethnographic response to his work experienced over roughly two decades, from my early days as a theology student, struggles with Church authority, to personal illness. Küng’s work provided a reference point for many of the challenges faced in ‘being a Christian’. The first part of the article establishes an autoethnographic methodological approach, leading to the exploration of four key texts from Küng, highlighting their general value while also noting their connection to my own theological journey. By examining Küng’s work in connection with my own life, I hope to make an argument for the continued relevance of his core ideas, while also introducing his life and work more broadly to those unfamiliar with Küng and his contribution. Contribution: This article offers key insights into the theology and relevance of Hans Küng’s work from an autoethnographic perspective. It engages with some of the key texts in Küng’s oeuvre, with the goal of personal and societal changes in mind. It has been written in light of Küng’s recent death in 2021.
  • Islam Nusantara: An integration opportunity between Christianity and culture in Indonesia

    Stimson Hutagalung; Christar A. Rumbay; Rolyana Ferinia (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    The integration or inculturation of religion and culture has been massively and controversially discussed despite being successfully presented by Islam Nusantara. Therefore, this study attempts to delve into the possibilities of integrating Christianity into the culture of Indonesia by seeking the Islam Nusantara experience. The study employed a qualitative method, using literature, articles, books and related references, and attempted to reconstruct the Islamic dimension concerning inculturation. Subsequently, the opportunity for Christianity will be displayed and formulated to establish a hospitable religion. This will offer a chance to improve and develop its identity regarding integration into the local culture by respecting without destroying, contextualising without syncretising and negotiating without compromising. Contribution: This article contributes to the ongoing debates on culture and Christianity in Indonesia. Islam Nusantara offers an opportunity and example of how religion and culture should collaborate. The expectation is that the collaboration will display a solid formation to other contexts in Asia or Africa that could arrange a fruitful conversation between culture and Christianity.
  • Debriefing hermeneutics for a balanced reading of the biblical text

    Mogomme A. Masoga (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    In this study, it is argued that the trust of previous (and existing) hermeneutical approaches of promoting ancient biblical texts as applicable to the everyday life of contemporary readers is not only imaginable but also too ambitious. The Hebrew Bible emerged from an Israelite cultural context, which neither speaks to nor deliberates on issues concerning the African cultural contexts. The present essay utilises a narrative approach comprising three main overtures. Firstly, some examples of previous contributions on hermeneutics will be discussed. Secondly, this study interrogates the legitimacy of employing African biblical hermeneutics that utilises ancient Jewish texts as applicable to African societies today. Thirdly and finally, the study will critically appraise for a balanced reading of the biblical text. Contribution: The present study aims at engaging (debriefing) existing hermeneutical contributions towards proposing a balanced reading of the biblical text. In order to achieve that goal, the study engages into a dialogue following hermeneutical approaches, which are popular amongst most African scholars, namely African biblical hermeneutics, black biblical hermeneutics, contextual biblical hermeneutics, feminist hermeneutics and oral hermeneutics.
  • Platonism and the Bible(s)

    Johann Cook (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    A relatively recent development in Septuagint studies is a focus on the alleged influence of Platonism on the Bible(s) (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the Septuagint). This article argues that Hellenism did in fact have an impact on Judaism. There are basically two groups of views on this issue. The first is that of the so-called minimalists, who make practically no allowance for freedom by the translators, and the second is that of the so-called maximalists, who believe that translators are relatively independent authors and interpreters. As far as the relationship between Judaism and Platonism is concerned, some scholars think Greek thought, specifically in the form of Platonism, had a determinative influence on Judaism, but others are not convinced. This article opts for a middle of the road point of view. It accepts that Hellenism had a definite impact on Judaism but it was not as extensive as stated by some. Contribution: This research fits into the scope of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies because it has made a study of the alleged impact of Platonism on Judaism. It finds that this impact is based on speculation, especially, by two authors: Evangelia Dafni and Russell Gmirkin.
  • Dislocation and continuity: Marking the 30th anniversary of the Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter Living Our Faith

    Buhle Mpofu; Mark Mapaketi (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    One of the reasons that prompted Malawi’s Catholic bishops to write a pastoral letter in 1992 that triggered the movement towards democracy was the big gap between the rich and the poor. The pastoral letter, Living Our Faith, emerged as a critical voice in challenging the socio-economic and political state of affairs. The bishops demanded that the government ensures fair distribution of wealth. Since that time, Malawi has experienced different political parties that have assumed state governance after promising to eradicate poverty in their campaign manifestos. Despite political changes, Malawi continues to experience the very same challenges, which prompted the Catholic bishops to write the pastoral letter in 1992. This contribution drew on the notions of dislocation and discontinuity to explore the significance of the pastoral letter towards commemorating the 30th anniversary of this historical event in Malawi. Living Our Faith marked the end of one-party dictatorial regime and the beginning of a multiparty system of governance, something to be celebrated as dislocation. This research interrogated the custodianship of the 1992 Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter and suggested that intellectuals should facilitate socio-political and economic transformation and demonstrated the relevance of the pastoral letter as a blueprint for socio-economic transformation in Malawi. Contribution: This research contributes to the evaluation of progress in the role played by the Church and intellectuals in the development of Malawi.
  • The upsurge of rape during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria and its effects on survivors

    Kingsley I. Uwaegbute; Daniel C. Unachukwu (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    As one of the global measures for containing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Nigerian government imposed a total lockdown from 30 March 2020 to 15 May 2020. This exposed a lot of women and children to a greater level of sexual violence such as rape, which has persisted even before COVID-19. On 14 July 2020, the Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, reportedly said that over 3600 rape cases were recorded across Nigeria during the lockdown. The sudden rise in cases of rape in the country calls for urgent attention. The article explores the effects of rape during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria using expository and phenomenological designs. It used data obtained from: (1) articles and commentaries on the websites of various newspapers in Nigeria, (2) existing works and (3) interviews with women and girls who were either survivors or connected to the victims of rape during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria. The findings corroborate the notion that rape, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, is a very traumatic experience that has negative effects on the survivors in a physical, psychological and sociological way. The data also indicate that the upsurge of rape incidences in Nigeria is an epidemic that should also be treated as a public health emergency. Contribution: This research revealed diverse health and safety approaches that should be adopted to mitigate further escalation of rape, which includes enforcement of anti-sexual harassment bills, intensified orientation and awareness through campaigns.
  • Sexuality communication ethics in the Qur’an: A semantic analysis on coitus verses

    Alimin Alimin; Fahmi Gunawan; Ahmad Muttaqin; Saad Boulahnane (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    While studies on contextual coitus verses interpretations have been explored by many scholars, there is a paucity of research addressing the theme holistically and spotlighting the aspects of moral ethics of its communication. To fill this lacuna, this study aims to analyse the communication ethics of coitus words in the Qur’an. Two main questions are discussed in this study. Firstly, what is the semantic meaning of coitus in the Qur’an? Secondly, why does the Qur’an employ certain terminologies to convey the topic of coitus? This study applies a case study design to analyse the word ‘coitus’ in the verses of the Qur’an holistically. The results show that the Qur’an utilises 12 keywords related to coitus for the purpose of fostering the communication ethics of the Arab community at the time of revelation. Moreover, this study found that the Qur’an uses those specific keywords to respond to the (1) sexual behaviour of pre-Islamic Arab community, (2) narration of eroticism in other scriptures (Kitab) and (3) gender inequality in sexuality. This study resolves that the words of ‘coitus’ in the Qur’an have implications for the emergence of Quranic communication ethics, which respects the aspects of comprehensiveness, politeness, analogy, aesthetics, intensity and gender equality. These six aspects form sexual communication ethics that are probed from a humanist perspective. Contribution: This article contends to unify the concept of theology and the principles of communication ethics. In particular, this study provides a theoretical contribution to the ethics of sexual communication that is sourced from the worldview of Qur’anic theology. Also, the methodology of this study can be a prototype of semantic analysis research that discusses certain topics and spot important keywords around that topic.
  • A biotheology of God’s divine action in the present global ecological precipice

    Lisanne D. Winslow (AOSIS, 2022-04-01)
    Theological discourse surrounding the environmental crisis has rightly brought to the forefront human agency as a primary causal determinant. However, this article explores a theistic divine action position toward an account of the present global precipice that the earth and all its creatures teeter upon. The first section offers a preferred view of divine action theory, Divine Compositionalism, with explanatory power to account for an ever-changing planet. Furthermore, Divine Compositionalism is used to ground the role of God as Creator and sustainer of all things toward a constructive biotheology. The second section accounts for both human culpability and God’s divine action, retaining human free will and God’s sovereignty within a creation God owns and loves. The final section explores a possible remedy to the environmental precipice through the very elements of human cooperation that ensured the success of our prehistoric ancestors. A cooperative biotheology entails humanity re-claiming its inter-relation with all creatures in a world family while exercising the free will to partner with one another on a spiritual level in accomplishing God’s good and wonderful eternal ideas for the next step in human spiritual development toward earth’s physical evolution. Contribution: Drawing upon Divine Compositionalism as a new view of divine action, this article explores God’s action in the natural world as it is now and offers a biotheology that entails divine–human partnership toward an alternative future outcome.
  • The need for social theology to strengthen the social functions of Islamic banking in Indonesia

    Wahyudin Darmalaksana (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    This study is based on the objective conditions of Islamic banking in Indonesia, which have not carried out their social functions optimally. Based on reports from the financial services authority, Indonesia bank and several related research, the efforts to optimise the social function of Islamic banking still encounters several problems related to the distribution of banking funds that are more focused on business interests, lack of real business run by Islamic banks, customer funds that are mostly deposited in Indonesia bank and have not been distributed to the real sector effectively, to banking activities by referring to the capitalistic economic paradigm and not fully referring to sharia guidelines. The results of the study of documents, literature and actual phenomena using descriptive and holistic analysis methods indicate that the degradation of the social function of Islamic banking appears as a result of a lack of understanding of the concept of Islamic economics based on the construction of Islamic social theology. The lack of understanding of banking management towards Islamic social theology has created a gap between the practical and conceptual sides of Islamic social theology, which in turn has an impact on the lack of social commitment from related parties in the implementation of Islamic banking activities. Strengthening the practical side of Islamic social theology is a necessity to overcome the existing problems. Contribution: The article contributes to the discourse on the application of Islamic social theology to Islamic banking practices. It aims to contribute to theological thought in Islam in order to strengthen the social function of Islamic banking, by focusing on the main objective of Islamic economics: al-falah or the achievement of spiritual and material prosperity.
  • The headings of the Psalms in Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus

    Herculaas F. van Rooy (AOSIS, 2022-04-01)
    In Codex Ambrosianus of the Syro-Hexapla, marginal readings related to the headings of some of the Psalms occur. The importance of these variants for the history of the Greek and Syriac Psalm headings warrants further discussion. To this end, this paper undertakes a comparative study of the marginal notes that accompany the headings of the Psalms in the Syro-Hexapla. These notes do not occur for all headings and only rarely do variants from all three occur (as is the case for Ps 7). These variants are compared to the readings of the headings of the Septuagint (LXX) and the Syro-Hexapla. Three matters are investigated in this paper, namely the rendering of the technical term לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ in the Three (Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus), references to the name of David and some instances where the LXX has a substantial plus in comparison to the Masoretic Text (MT), such as in Psalms 98 (97), 104 (103), 43 (42) and 56 (55). Research to date demonstrates that Field did not use these notes in Codex Ambrosianus to their full extent. As far as the three elements under investigation are concerned, this paper demonstrates that the Three frequently differ from the LXX in their rendering of certain aspects of the headings. In some instances, the Three reflect a rendering much closer to the Hebrew. In others, they contain a rendering that is dependent on the Hebrew, but which displays a lack of understanding of especially some of the technical terms in the Hebrew. Contribution: The research shed new light on the variants recorded in the margin of Codex Ambrosianus and their value for the text-critical study of the headings in the Psalms in the MT and the Septuagint. Textual Criticism is one of the core disciplines for the study of the text of the Hebrew Bible and its translation and transmission in different ancient languages.
  • Renderings of paronymous infinitive constructions in OG Exodus and implications for defining the character of the translation

    Larry Perkins (AOSIS, 2022-05-01)
    This article gives insight into the world of 3rd century BCE Alexandrian Judaism by analysing one aspect of the Greek translation of Exodus and provides a detailed evaluation of the way the translator managed to express the essence of the Hebrew text of Exodus while reflecting to some degree the form of the Hebrew text. No previous study only analyses this translator’s treatment of Hebrew paronymous infinitive absolute constructions in Greek Exodus. This research contributes to the preparation of a commentary on Greek Exodus in the Society of Biblical Literature Septuagint Commentary Series. Using the Göttingen text of Greek Exodus prepared by John William Wevers, it evaluates how this translator rendered each occurrence of a paronymous infinitive absolute construction in Hebrew Exodus, defining the primary modes employed and also seeking to explain variations from these norms. The primary method incorporates a close exegetical reading of both the Hebrew and Greek texts and comparing their texts, in order to discern how the translator treated this Hebrew idiom and illustrating his translation approach. Contribution: The results contribute to our understanding of how the translator of Greek Exodus approached his task. He was more concerned to express the sense of the Hebrew text, than producing a literal translation. He generally follows the Hebrew text’s word order, but is creative in his choice of Greek equivalents, often showing sensitivity to context and Greek idiom. This translation approach differentiates this translator’s approach somewhat from those responsible for other portions of the Pentateuch.
  • Die ‘bekentenisse van die vlees’ in die sentrale Middeleeue: ’n Verruiming van Foucault se lesing in Histoire de la sexualité 1 (La volonté de savoir)

    Johann Beukes (AOSIS, 2022-04-01)
    The ‘confessions of the flesh’ in the central Middle Ages: An expansion of Foucault’s reading in Histoire de la sexualité 1 (La volonté de savoir). This article expands Michel Foucault’s (1926–1984) reading of the ‘confessions of the flesh’ in handbooks of penance written during the central Middle Ages in the first volume La volonté de savoir of his (current) four-volume series Histoire de la sexualité. After the posthumous publication of the fourth volume Les aveux de la chair (2018), in which Foucault takes his analysis of the historical foundations of confessional practices in the late 12th century to the first half of the 14th century even further back, to the ‘confessions of the flesh’ in the patristics of the 3rd to the 5th centuries, it has become sensible to illuminate Foucault’s condensed reading of confessional scripts in La volonté de savoir itself. This exposition pertinently applies to Foucault’s correct conclusion that sex was prioritised above all other ‘sins’, ‘vices’, and ‘transgressions’ in central Medieval confessional scripts; therefore, as he famously noted, becoming a ‘seismograph of subjectivity in Christian cultures’. Against this backdrop, it is considered how thinkers from the central Middle Ages themselves reflected on the sacramentalisation of confession after the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 – since Foucault himself did not substantially elaborate on it. The reflections of three philosophers from the central Middle Ages on the relation between sex, confession and absolution are subsequently presented as an expansion of Foucault’s reading in La volonté de savoir. Firstly, Alan of Lille’s (d.1203) interpretation of the Summae confessorum in his Liber poenitentialis is revisited, concluding that Lille’s perspective was ‘hermeneutical’, in terms of his insistence that the confessor should adjust his interrogations according to seven Aristotelian topoi or detailed questions, designate the context in which the transgression occurred very thoroughly and ‘actively participate’ in the confessional act, rather than simply recording it. Lille’s ‘hermeneutical’ approach to confession is also reflected in Robert Grosseteste’s (ca.1168–1253) De modo confitendi et paenitentias iniungendi, in which a moderate phronetic approach allows for the full discretion of the confessor, rather than following the rigid prescriptions of the Summae confessorum only. Secondly, William of Auvergne’s (ca.1180–1249) contribution to the interpretation of the Summae confessorum in his Poenitentia is indicated in his utilitarian ethics, in which the interests of the ethical ‘other’ is related to the confessing ‘self’: even though matrimony is for Auvergne the only realm where the other’s interests are not necessarily compromised by sexual contact, several considerations regarding ‘improper sex’, precisely within matrimony, apply according to the relevant penitential guidelines. Thirdly, Paul of Hungary’s (ca.1180–1241) De confessione is considered in terms of his reflections on ‘paying sexual debt’, and on the relation between regulated sexual release and the legitimacy of sexual gratification, again within the context of matrimony. Contribution: This article contributes to Foucault-scholarship by elucidating and expanding Foucault’s condensed reading of 13th-century confessional scripts in La volonté de savoir, with reference to the relevant texts of Alan of Lille (d.1203), William of Auvergne (ca.1180–1249) and Paul of Hungary (ca.1180–1241).

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