Scriptura : Journal for Biblical, Theological and Contextual Hermeneutics is an independent journal which publishes contributions in the fields of Bible, Religion and Theology refereed by peers. It is international in scope but special attention is given to topics and issues emerging from or relevant to Southern Africa. Scriptura publishes contributions in English but also in other languages relevant to the Southern African region (such as Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sesotho, Zulu, French and German).


The library contains articles of Scriptura as of 1986 ; 62(1997) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • "The spirit": left out and then reintroduced? A study of Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19 in the context of the authorship debate

    Gertrud Tönsing, J. (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    This article aims to formulate a new hypothesis on the authorship debate concerning the disputed letters Colossians and Ephesians. It argues that the letters were co-written with Paul by his co-workers in order to make Paul's theology more acceptable to the congregations. Colossians omits controversial Pauline terms, but Ephesians corrects this and tries to reintroduce Pauline theology in a way that will build unity in the churches. A particular parallel text, the study of which sparked this research, is discussed to see if this hypothesis makes sense both of the similarities but also the differences between the two letters.
  • African zionism and its contribution to African christianity in South Africa

    Resane, Kelebogile Thomas (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    The paper highlights the historical development of African Zionism, with special reference to the four major messianic churches. Socio-political conditions and other factors contributed to the formation of African Zionism. Israel's nationalist theology of the temple and the John Alexander Dowie's Zion City concepts played a significant role in influencing the formation of African Zionism. The churches selected for the study are Zion Christian Church, Shembe's AmaNazaretha, International Pentecost Church, and St John's Apostolic Faith Mission. The focus is on the spiritual significance of the cultic centre as perceived by these church formations. The reasons for pilgrimages to the centre are elaborated on, and the contribution of these churches to African Christianity are highlighted.
  • Decolonising or africanization of the theological curriculum: a critical reflection

    Knoetze, Johannes (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2021-01-01)
    This article presents a critical reflection on the theological curricula at (South) African Universities' faculties of theology (and religion) from a missional hermeneutic focusing on decolonisation or Africanisation. Realising that it is not sufficient merely to make a few alterations, this article takes a more practical and technical approach to amend the curricula to be more contextualised for Africa. The decolonisation or Africanisation challenge for a Faculty of Theology is threefold: (i) to address content (African contextualisation); (ii) mode/s of delivery -Open Distance Learning (ODL) and (iii) Programmes and Qualification Mix (PQM) diversity (new programmes - diplomas and certificates). The question to which this article attends is this: what are the implications of decolonisation or Africanisation in a faculty of theology at an institution of higher education in (South) Africa?
  • Resentment - excavating a resurgent phenomenon in contemporary society

    Balcomb, Anthony (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2021-01-01)
    Resentment is a powerful human emotion that has both private and social dimensions where it manifests in a variety of ways. It has been identified as the force behind uprisings against racial, economic, and political inequality and injustice throughout time, as well as in the contemporary scene. Its moral and socio-political implications have been reflected on ever since Nietzsche identified it as a major contributing factor in the genealogy of morality. Max Scheler made a brilliant phenomenological analysis of it, and Francis Fukuyama recently identified it as a significant force in shaping contemporary identity politics. It has become a significant political force in contemporary South Africa, where the politics ofreconciliation have largely been displaced by the politics of resentment. Although it has generally been viewed as having negative consequences for the social compact, its moral justification in specific circumstances has been powerfully made by the holocaust survivor Jean Amery and more recently by Didier Fassin with regard to post-apartheid South Africa. However, it is often accompanied by what Nietzsche called the "falsification of the tablets of value", which also means that it may lead to alternative mental constructions of reality that might result in delusional perspectives that can have dire social and moral consequences.
  • The early years: the quest for a free space in a restricted environment

    Lategan,Bernard (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    This article discusses the considerations which led to the establishment of Scriptura in 1980. Against the backdrop of a looming social and political transformation, the intellectual, political and ecclesial climate was restrictive in many ways and on various levels. The strict adherence to disciplinary boundaries in academe, the dominant political ideology of oppression and exclusion, and the inertia caused by hierarchical systems of ecclesial control all contributed to the need to find spaces where alternative approaches could be explored and tested. In the process, fortunate co-incidences or instances of serendipity played an important role. The intention of this article is neither to provide a historical account of these developments nor an overview of the contents of the journal, but rather to explore the forces which influenced the course of events, often behind the scenes and on a meta-level. After the first decade, the journal was established enough to pursue more conventional objectives.
  • Weerkaatsende woorde: 'n (outo)biografiese refleksie van 'n (praktiese) teoloog

    van den Berg,JA (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    Sommige van diepersoonlike ervaringe en bevindinge van 'n (prakties) teologies-akademiese skrywer word in die artikel onthul. Dié onthulling geskied op 'n intiem-persoonlike wyse aan die hand van 'n outo(biografiese) reis. Meesleurend vanuit 'n aanvanklike en terloopse aanraking van die persoonlike lewensruimte van die praktiese teoloog, word 'n trajek gebied aan die hand waarvan die ontwikkeling van akademiese skryfwerk gekaart kan word. Onverwagse mylpale langs die pad van gedokumenteerde prakties-teologiese navorsing sluit onder meer verbandhoudende aspekte van 'n plaaslike, konkrete en beliggaamde aard in. By elk van dié mylpale, wat 'n steil reliëf en gradiënt op die roete verteenwoordig, word op outobiografiese wyse aangedoen. In 'n persoonlike tuiskoms by dié mylpale word tot die ontdekking gekom dat skrywer en leser inderdaad die mees persoonlike in gemeen het, maar dat dít ook universele betekenis het. In die konstruering van dié reflekterende gedagtes word moontlike coordinate vir die toekomstige neerpen en kartering van persoonlike teologies-akademiese onthullings gebied.
  • A journal for biblical, theological and / or contextual hermeneutics?

    Conradie,Ernst M. (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    This contribution reflects on the current sub-title of the journal Scriptura, namely "Journal for Biblical, Theological andHermeneutics ". It shows that this has been a core interest of the journal over a period of forty years. It also discusses the methodological tensions between these three forms / aspects of hermeneutics - to the point where one may wonder whether the "and" in the subtitle could be understood as "or ". It does not propose a way forward but commends Scriptura for offering the space to explore such tensions further in the South African context.
  • Towards an inclusive and collaborative african biblical hermeneutics of reception and production: a distinctively south african contribution

    West,Gerald O. (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    In a recent article I characterised the biblical hermeneutics of James H. Cone as a hermeneutic of radical reception and the biblical hermeneutics of Itumeleng Mosala as a hermeneutic of radical production. In this article I argue that though a hermeneutic of reception is the distinctive feature of African biblical hermeneutics, a hermeneutic of production is a particular and distinct contribution by South African biblical scholarship to African biblical scholarship. The article then reflects on how these two hermeneutics might intersect through the inclusion ofordinary African readers of the Bible in both the reception process and in a collaborative analysis of the contested sites of the Bible's production.
  • "Sola Scriptura"¹ against the background of the reformation and the recent "Gay Debate" in the dutch reformed church

    Old,Hendrik L Bosman (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    Although "sola Scriptura" was an important doctrine of the Reformation, it was not perceived to be a generic and exclusive principle that Scripture or the Bible had final authority with regards to any conceivable topic. The Reformation, with " sola Scriptura" as rallying cry, played a significant role in the development of critical biblical scholarship, and it was only after the emergence of evangelical fundamentalism in the late nineteenth century that the reinterpretation of " sola Scriptura" created a less accommodating attitude towards critical biblical scholarship. It is against this backdrop that the function of biblical authority in the recent "gay debate" in the Dutch Reformed Church will be discussed. In conclusion it will be asked whether " sola Scriptura" led to the Bible becoming a type of "paper pope" when the Counter-Reformation triggered the Protestant emphasis on the authority of Scripture to counter papal authority.
  • Coming face to face through narratives: evaluating from our evolutionary history the contemporary risk factors and their conceptualisation within a technologised society

    Veldsman,Danie (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    Technological developments represent wide-ranging and multifarious economic and cultural forces worldwide - even in South Africa. As forces, they must be faced and addressed contextually and critically since they have shaping impacts on societies, that is, they imply agency. The vantage point and focus of my critical engagement with technological developments as shaping agencies is the conviction that these developments are in no way neutral. In an explorative manner the article will focus on the most recent publication (Feb 2020) by the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA), namely The IRMSA Risk Report 2019 (5th edition). In the report, a very sophisticated analysis is given of the contextual challenges as risks that the South African society are facing but at the same time, conceptual skills (as tools!) are proposed for the risk manager as futurist to address these (technological) challenges. I subsequently raise and ask the question against the background of brief remarks on the (technological) challenges from the 4th Industrial Revolution whether it is helpful to judge and critically evaluate the proposed conceptual skills from the narratives on our evolutionary history as Homo sapiens. The evaluation of the proposed skills, transversally undertaken as the narratively-shaped face to face encounter of our evolutionary history and the contemporary-contextual conceptualisation of the management of risks within the South African society represents the original contribution of the argument.
  • Still plausible and intelligible? Towards a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology for today

    Vorster,J.M. (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    This article focusses on the question of whether a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology, founded in the classic reformed tradition, can still be regarded as plausible and intelligible for doing theology and applying Christian ethics today. The central theoretical argument of the discussion is that a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology in the abovementioned sense can still be plausible and intelligible under specific conditions. First and foremost: Scripture should be seen as the written revelation (Word) of God, inspired by the Spirit of God, and as more than just an ancient text. This inspiration can be termed "organic inspiration" because the Spirit inspired and used humans, within their cultural and socio-historical contexts, their spiritual experiences, languages and expectations to write the texts. Approaching Scripture from this premise, interpreters shouldfor understanding the text, read the text using the modern tools of lexicography and deal thoroughly with the cultural and socio-historical contexts of the ancient authors and the implications thereof. In this process, interpreters must be aware of the fact that they approach Scripture with various forms of pre-understanding and should deal with these by way of the tools of the hermeneutical circle. Passages in Scripture must be analysed and interpreted in light of the wholeness of Scripture and its congruent biblical theology. Furthermore, a "hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology" can add value to biblical studies and new theological knowledge by considering findings in modern literary theories as long as these do not disregard the belief that Scripture is the inspired authoritative written Word of God. Lastly, a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology must function within the ambit of the Reformed dictum of "semper reformanda" - the quest for continuous revisiting and reevaluation of the findings of biblical interpretation in the course of history.
  • Past the glorious age: old testament scholarship in South Africa-are we moving anywhere close to blackening old testament scholarship?

    Ramantswana,Hulisani (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    Old Testament scholarship in South Africa has deepened, broadened, and evolved over the years; and various trails can be traced within it. The article interrogates whether Old Testament scholarship has passed the glorious age. The following issues are explored: First, the retirement of scholars in recent years as a signal of the coming to an end of the second-generation of Old Testament scholars in South Africa; second, the developments in black Old Testament scholarship as a trail which developed alongside white Old Testament scholarship; and third, the prospects of Old Testament scholarship from a decolonial perspective. This article argues that the future of Old Testament Scholarship in (South) Africa is in a blackening, that is, a redress process through broadening of the scholarship to reflect the continent in which it has to thrive.
  • Ten years (2010 - 2020) of exciting missiology in South Africa: trends and trajectories

    Mangayi,Lukwikilu (Credo); Baron,Eugene (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    Missiology as a theological discipline is dynamic and forever evolving. This dynamism can be observed through trends and trajectories in biblical, theological, and contextual hermeneutics. The authors of this article, by means of literature analysis, scrutinise contributions of some retiring and retired South African missiologists to unearth trends and trajectories in biblical, missiological, and contextual hermeneutics prevalent in South Africa. The authors used the data analysis programme Atlas.ti with a focus on the current four pertinent questions in missiology: What is mission? How should we do mission? What are the goals of mission? What are the contextual issues of mission today and in the near future? The findings reveal interesting trends and trajectories, and points of divergence and similarities, and because of the dynamic nature of missiology, current emerging and established missiologists should continue to shape the future trends and trajectories.
  • Land dispossession as "original sin". Can christian original sin talk be used as diagnostic tool within the public domain?

    Vorster,Nico (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    This contribution considers the descriptive value of original sin talk within the public domain against the background of the South African land reform debate. The first section analyses the employment of "original sin" language within this debate by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the light of the rise of "white privilege" discourse in South Africa. The subsequent section addresses the theological content and logical consistency of Augustine's version of original sin. It pays particular attention to Paul Ricoeur's analysis of the historical development of Augustine's thought on sin in response to Manicheanism and Pelagianism and concludes by identifying possible risks involved in transposing the Augustinian version of original sin talk to the public domain. The third section probes the question: Does Christian sin talk belong in the public domain at all? It examines the disconnections that exist between Christian sin talk and popular public notions of "wrongdoing". The article then considers the possible strengths of a non-literalist, non-biological version of original sin doctrine when applied to the public domain, while the last section illustrates the diagnostic benefits of the proposed version of original sin with reference to the South African land debate.
  • Interaction between ministers and members of the congregations in the DRCA FS (NGKA VS)

    Pali,Khamadi Joseph (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2020-01-01)
    Recent studies on the DRCA FS indicate that there is a decrease in the positive interaction between ministers and the members of their congregations. This is manifested in the way in which the ministers describe the members of their congregations or the way in which congregation members describe the leadership of their ministers. This decrease in interaction between ministers and the members of their congregations is reflected in the increase in conflict situations characterised by disagreements, litigations and violence. This article raises the following research question: What are the dynamics of the interaction between ministers and members of the congregations in the DRCA FS? This article aims to analyse the interaction between ministers and members of the congregations in the DRCA FS.
  • The restoration of the "dry bones" in Ezekiel 37:1-14: an exegetical and theological analysis

    Biwul,Joel Kamsen Tihitshak (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2019-01-01)
    The visionary presentation of "Dry Bones" in Ezekiel 37 presupposes the possibility of the restoration of Yahweh's covenant people to their ancestral land in ancient Palestine. What, therefore, is the underpinning theological significance? Using an exegetical and theological analysis, this article argues that the Babylonian captivity had a divine retributive and punitive purpose for a dissident covenant people, and, ultimately, achieved the recognition of the prophetic formula in Ezekiel. It concludes that only Yahweh, acting in his divine economy, and through his divine method, reserved the prerogative to reverse the unfortunate exilic condition of Israel. Bewildered and pessimistic readers should therefore acknowledge the display of this unitary divine sovereignty.
  • Die gelykenis van die verlore seun: eerste-eeuse ekonomie en die hoorders van Jesus

    Schoeman,WJ; van Eck,Ernest (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2019-01-01)
    Jesus preached the kingdom of God, with the principle of general reciprocity as a cardinal aspect. For Jesus, this kingdom was an alternative social world to the oppressive and exploitative social system of the Greco-Roman world. This article seeks to analyse the parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32), focusing on Luke 15:11-13, against the socio-economic background of first century Palestine. Special attention is given to the youngest son's decision to leave the house and his possible motive for doing so. The view is that texts are the products of the specific social systems in which they originated, and therefore the social scientific approach is used to analyse this text. The conclusion reached is that the political and tax systems of the Greco-Roman world were extremely exploitative, while the kingdom of God, as an alternative social order, advocated the principle of general reciprocity and the sharing of resources.
  • The essence and content of the work Of the Diakonos according to the New Testament

    Breed,Gert (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2019-01-01)
    The word διάκονος is used for a large variety ofpersons in the New Testament. The question can be asked why this specific word was also used for some of the leaders (deacons) in congregations. The first step to answer this question, is to determine the essence and content of the work of a διάκονος (not as leader) according to the New Testament. The aim of the article is a close study of the meaning of the διάκον words in five New Testament texts to determine the essence and content of the task of the διάκονος. The conclusion is that the results of this study cannot on their own determine the essence and content of the work of the deacon, but they lay the foundation for further study about the leader διάκονος (deacon). In further study it will be important to also look at the texts where the διάκονος functions in a position of leadership.
  • The water of life: Three explorations into water imagery in revelation and the Fourth Gospel

    Wilson,Mark (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2019-01-01)
    This article is comprised of three separate yet related explorations regarding the image of water in Revelation and the Fourth Gospel. It first explores the attempt to tabulate examples of water terminology in the New Testament and how that tabulation has proven incomplete. A fresh assessment is provided that includes an expanded lexical domain for water and notes its high frequency of usage in Revelation and John when compared to the rest of the New Testament. The next section examines four pericopae in Revelation and in the Fourth Gospel where water imagery is prevalent. Old Testament backgrounds for language are examined along with the intertextual relationship between texts in Revelation and John. A theological understanding of water imagery for Revelation and the gospel is proposed. In the final section, the Asian cultic practice of using water-the hydrophoros in the Artemis cult-is presented. While a Jewish background is commonly posited as the background for understanding water imagery in Revelation and the Fourth Gospel, the Greco-Roman polytheistic cults are posited as the primary religious background for Gentile believers in the Asian congregations.
  • The role of the church in the land debate

    Resane,Dr Kelebogile Thomas (Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2019-01-01)
    The issue of land is emotive and controversial. The colonisers allotted themselves land ignoring the African emotional and religious attachment to land. Churches ended up owning tracts of land from which original inhabitants had been mercilessly removed. Landlessness has become a mark of various population settlement patterns. The church is called on to be prophetic by partnering with victims for land re-allocation. The paper suggests four decisive steps that the church should take. These are firstly to advocate strategies to clarify, and secondly to entrench rights for the victims - bilateral agreements - with which the church is conversant with current policies regarding land in order to assist the dispossessed. Thirdly, to reach degrees of consensus which may contribute to amicable settlement of disputes that satisfy both parties and where majority decisions are respected. Finally, the church should promote dialogue, where dissenting parties should synergise towards a unified action to address the situation; or clarify any misunderstanding.

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