Verbum et Ecclesia is a theological research journal that challenges traditional discourses within and between the fields of biblical, religious, social and human sciences as well as the constructive engagement with the natural sciences. It is an instrument of engagement between theological disciplines, on the one hand, and theology and other disciplines, on the other. This periodical is juridically connected to the Centre for Ministerial Development (Excelsus), located at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria. English, Afrikaans and Sepedi are the languages of publication which makes the journal unique.


The library contains articles of Verbum et Ecclesia as of vol. 2(1981) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • New paradigms of pneumatological ecclesiology brought about by new prophetic churches within South African Pentecostalism

    Mookgo S. Kgatle (AOSIS, 2020-06-01)
    Pneumatological ecclesiology has caught the interest of many Pentecostal theologians, especially in the three main sub-traditions of Pentecostalism, that is, classical Pentecostalism (later CP), Pentecostal African Independent Churches (later PAIC) and charismatics. There is however a research gap in studying pneumatological ecclesiology in the new prophetic churches (later NPCs). Therefore, the study of pneumatological ecclesiology in light of the NPCs in South Africa is pivotal, groundbreaking and cutting-edge. The challenge of course to such a study is the existence of many ecclesiologies within the sub-traditions of Pentecostalism stated above. To avoid this challenge, a summary of pneumatological ecclesiology in other sub-traditions shall be given but with a special focus on new paradigms in NPCs. The argument is that the pneumatological ecclesiology amongst NPCs in South Africa is very much different in praxis from the ecclesiology of the three main sub-traditions of Pentecostalism. The aim of this article was to demonstrate the existence of the lived ecclesiology, highlight the challenges and propose a balanced pneumatological ecclesiology amongst NPCs in South Africa. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is an interdisciplinary study between missiology and practical theology. It studies the practical theological theme of ecclesiology within the streams of a missiological trend of Pentecostalism in order to highlight the new paradigms of pneumatological ecclesiology.
  • The relevance and necessity of contextualising theological education and ministerial formation in South Africa

    Jonathan M. Womack; Graham Duncan; Jerry Pillay (AOSIS, 2020-04-01)
    Theology is never performed in a vacuum. One’s context impacts on theology and life. Local peculiarities have a huge impact on the needs and expectations of individuals and society at large. Ignoring the local context can have a detrimental impact on the development of ministerial formation. Church history practised in the 21st century can no longer afford to be ‘Eurocentric’ and cut off from wider socio-economic development. This article analysed some of the key challenges ministerial formation in contemporary South Africa faces. Its primary focus is ministerial formation. Through this focus, the disciplines of history of Christianity, church polity, missiology and systematic theology are implicitly referred to. This article challenged the current discourse on ministerial formation to be aware of contextual dynamics and to avoid oversimplification of the matter. This task was achieved through a comparative methodology through a narrative analysis of aspects of society considered to relate directly to ministerial formation. These phenomena were grouped into those that are ‘new’ to democratic South Africa and those that have remained since the dawn of democracy. Although current discourses have tended to focus on aspects of change or continuation, this article concluded by highlighting how both change and continuation need to be taken into consideration. This research showed that South Africa presents a dynamic context in which ministerial formation is to take place. Only when the dynamic context of contemporary South Africa is truly taken into consideration can effective development to ministerial formation occur. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This work, focussing on contemporary South Africa, identifies the necessity of including a contextual awareness in ministerial formation. It involves the disciplines of history of Christianity, church polity, missiology and systematic theology. It challenges the current discourse on its awareness of contextual dynamics and to avoid oversimplification of the matter.
  • ‘Deliver us from patriarchy’: A gendered perspective of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa and implications for pastoral care

    Sinenhlanhla S. Chisale (AOSIS, 2020-03-01)
    The church is a fertile ground for nurturing and protecting patriarchy. Within the Christian church, gender equality remains a theoretical notion, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA) is no exception in this regard. Written from the perspective of African women’s theology, this article critically reflects on and interprets gender issues in ELCSA leadership structures by exploring the gender biases involved in the running of the church and the implications of these biases for gender questions about reformation and pastoral care in ELCSA congregations. Findings indicate that the gender gap in ELCSA structures is neither biblical nor constitutional but is protected by the presence of wives of bishops, deans and pastors who are placed strategically in women’s leagues, particularly the Prayer Women’s League (PWL). In addition, qualifying the bishops, deans and pastors as ex-officio members of these groups constitutes an obstacle to achieving gender equality in the Church’s leadership structures and has implications for pastoral care in the ELCSA. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article is written from a Christian-anthropological perspective. By reviewing literature from social sciences, practical and systematic theology, it integrates sociological and African traditional assumptions of gender and religion that hinder the African church’s reformation praxis, thereby affecting pastoral care.
  • Postcolonial religious hope as stratagem to achieve political enslavement in Zimbabwe: A decoloniality approach towards an uncaptured theology of hope

    Bekithemba Dube (AOSIS, 2020-02-01)
    In this article, the author has shown how postcolonial religious praxis has contributed to political oppression in Zimbabwe. This is done by analysing prophetic messages of hope in the face of economic trajectories and argued that prophetic discourses have, covertly and overtly, become a stratagem for political oppression. To this end, religious leaders play a leading role in the zombification of people to accept oppression and marginalisation, thereby relegating citizens to the periphery. To develop this article, the author has analysed incidents associated with Prophets Walter Magaya and Emmanuel Makandiwa, and the Mapostori movement in Zimbabwe. The author has used decoloniality as a lens to challenge postcolonial prophetic hope that contributes to oppression. He is guided by two questions: (1) How have Magaya, Makandiwa and the Mapostori contributed to sustained political oppression whilst acting on the pretext of giving people hope? (2) What could be done for Christians to free themselves from a captured theology of hope? The author argues that religion that is premised on political ambivalence with the aim of oppressing and sustaining oppression does not deserve a place in democratic society; thus, there is a need to confront religious narratives, enact uncaptured theology and move towards the criticalisation of religious curriculum in Zimbabwe. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is interdisciplinary in the sense that it touches issues such as politics, religion, sociology and education. In this article, the author has shown how all these disciplines come into play and that malfunction of religion can contribute to oppression and underdevelopment in a society.
  • Horseshoes, angels and other UFOs: Rethinking faith in light of present-day superstitions

    Cornel W. du Toit (AOSIS, 2011-03-01)
    The monotheistic religions see God as the author of human faith. Faith comes �from above� and as such is unnatural or supernatural. The faith of pagans, by contrast, is regarded as superstition and hence natural (Rm 1). One can make a case for the �natural� universal incidence of both religion and superstition and their fulfilment of similar needs. In addition both are characterised by the pattern-finding operation of the human brain. The (causal) connections we make and the patterns we impose on reality have always helped people to comprehend and manipulate the world. Historical circumstances led to the development of �official� religions as institutions wielding political power, whereas superstition has remained a para-religious phenomenon to this day.<p>But how should religion and superstition be viewed in a postmetaphysical, technoscientific environment? How can the supernatural aspects of religion and superstition be accommodated in such an environment? The role of affect and belief (placebo effect) in religion and superstition is also scrutinised. Viewed differently, both religion and superstition are considered natural and are proposed as a form of immanent transcendence, in which the �supernatural� is not posited as a metaphysical model but is worked out �from below� in terms of the human constitution.</p>
  • The African traditional religious landscape: An examination of the role of traditional leaders in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Chipinge, Zimbabwe

    Joel Marashe (AOSIS, 2014-01-01)
    <span>This study examines the role of traditional leaders, as custodians of culture, in the fight against infection with the HI virus and the AIDS pandemic in the Chipinge District of Zimbabwe. The research aims to assess traditional leaders� knowledge of HIV and AIDS and its causes. It also examines some traditional practices to determine whether they expose people to HIV and AIDS, and it evaluates the traditional leaders� roles in curbing the pandemic. From a phenomenological standpoint � and grounded in the African traditional religious landscape � the study uses a survey research design. A convenient sample of 18 participants for the study consisted of 3 chiefs and 5 headmen who completed a questionnaire as well as 5 village heads and 5 elders who were interviewed and involved in four focus-group discussions (FGDs) that provided a variety of insightful information. The study identifies promiscuity as a major cause of HIV infection in communities. The results show that traditional leaders discourage </span><em>barika</em><span> and </span><em>kuputsa</em><span> as being harmful traditional marriage practices. Furthermore, the study indicates that traditional leaders encourage behavioural change amongst the youth and adults alike to curb the spread of HIV and that the pandemic could possibly be contained if government fully empowered the traditional leaders. The research has value in attempting to minimise the spread of HIV if communities discontinue harmful cultural practices. Therefore, donor agencies involved in intervention projects concerning the HIV and AIDS pandemic and government should work closely with traditional leaders who wield considerable power in areas under their jurisdiction to arrest the spread of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in the Chipinge district in Zimbabwe.</span>
  • Deconstructing the body: Body theology, embodied pastoral anthropology and body mapping

    Jacob Meiring; Julian C. M�ller (AOSIS, 2010-03-01)
    This article is an effort to deconstruct narratives regarding the body. Body theology as developed by James B. Nelson forms the basis for a literature study as well as an exploration of an embodied pastoral anthropology, within the context of a postfoundationalist practical theology and an openness to interdisciplinary dialogue. Qualitative interviews and the body-mapping process were used within the context of narrative research to narrate people�s stories regarding their bodies in relation to their spiritual journey as well as to increase an awareness of a holistic, embodied spirituality.
  • When equal becomes the same. The spirituality of sex: Have we lost it?

    Annelise Erasmus; Christo J.S. Lombaard (AOSIS, 2017-01-01)
    <p>In this contribution, spirituality and sexuality are brought together as part of a quest for authenticity. In conversation with Hegel and Nietzsche, the confusion between sameness and difference as it plays out in the confusion between the public and private spheres is analysed, en route to proposing life-affirming sexual identities, including non-mainstream sexualities.</p><p><strong>Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications:</strong> Aspects of philosophy, spirituality and human sexuality are brought in conversation with one another.</p>
  • �Visionaries � psychiatric wards are full of them�: Religious terms in management literature

    Volker Kessler (AOSIS, 2017-01-01)
    <p>Contemporary management literature often makes use of strong religious vocabulary. This article will provide a critical analysis of this practice. It especially analyses the usage of three religious terms in management circles: �vision� � a term omnipresent in leadership literature, �metanoic organisations� � a notion found in books about change management, and �evangelists� � a job title mentioned in job advertisements by companies such as Apple and Microsoft. This phenomenon goes hand in hand with the megatrend �workplace spirituality�, which started in the 1990s. In addition, it can be observed that religious vocabulary has found its way into ordinary current management literature, even if this literature does not show any overt link to spirituality. The article lists some negative side effects of this use, such as confusion of terms, manipulation of people and inappropriate pathos.</p><p><strong>Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: </strong>It is important for both Theology and Management Theory to be critical of the use of religious terms in non-religious contexts.</p>
  • Spirituality for democracy: Spiritual resources for democratic participation in the 21st century

    Roderick R. Hewitt (AOSIS, 2014-08-01)
    The topic invites us to explore spirituality for democracy and to identify and critique the spiritual resources that are needed for democratic participation in the 21st century. The statement specifically focused on <em>for</em> and not <em>of</em> democracy. Modern expressions of democracy are in crisis. Every context is teething with challenges and conflicts between government sand their citizens concerning how much influence through participation should be allowed in the decision-making process of governance. This topic is of extreme importance for academic discourse because the malaise that has crept into contemporary forms of democratic governance calls for urgent attention. Democratic forms of governance are not set in stone. Rather, they are formed as a result of human deliberation and praxis and cultural developments and must therefore remain open for further reformation. It is this intrinsic capacity for renewal that opens democracy to converse with spirituality. This article begins with identifying the key terms that constitute the academic building blocks of this study. The inherent contradictions in the use of these terms are noted in order to arrive at a theoretical construct to converse with the key concepts of spirituality, democracy, spiritual resources and democratic participation.Through the use of the post colonial lenses of Rastafari hermeneutics, a theoretical framework will be employed to map a life-giving path for contemporary expressions of spirituality for democracy and to identify the resources needed for democratic participation.
  • Plato’s Apology of Socrates and Sapientia Salomonis on atheism

    Evangelia G. Dafni (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    The article examines the perception of atheism in Plato’s Apology of Socrates (4th century BC) in comparison to the book of Sapientia Salomonis (about 1st century BC or 1st century AD) from a cultural critical perspective. Special attention is paid to linguistic, ideological and theological aspects referring to the righteous and the godless in the face of God. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The perception of atheism in Plato’s Apology of Socrates in comparison to the book of Sapientia Salomonis is examined from the fields of Cultural Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy and Theology.
  • The connections of the Torah-Psalm 119 to the fifth Psalter of David (Ps 138–145)

    Frank-Lothar Hossfeld (AOSIS, 2019-12-01)
    The following exposition goes back to my lecture, ‘The Ways of YHWH and the Ways of the supplicant in the fifth and last Psalter of David’, at the convention, ‘The Torah in the psalms and the prophecy’, held at Munich on 13–14 July 2007. The first part of the lecture, which dealt with the composition of the fifth Psalter of David, has appeared in an excursus (on the concept of the fifth Psalter of David) in the psalm commentary by Erich Zenger and me (Author). It was for this reason that the second part, which dealt with the Way-motif in Psalm 119 in the fifth Psalter of David, was extended to the current subject of the article. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The psalms and the Torah belong to two different parts of the Hebrew canon. This means that the intertextual relations between them rest on the interdisciplinary relationship between the two corpuses. The connections between Psalm 119 and David’s fifth Psalter relate with the autonomous theologies of the fifth Psalter of David (Ps 138–145) and the final Hallel (Ps 146–150). Psalm 119 had both groups of psalms in front of it, and it respected the graduated psalm endings or rather the final redactions in both instances. The implication for the redaction study of the psalms is that Psalm 119 was specifically placed in its present position within the Psalter in its totality.
  • The Book of Jeremiah: Realisation of threats of the Torah – and also of promises?

    Georg Fischer SJ (AOSIS, 2019-12-01)
    The relationship between the Torah and the Prophets has been a matter of dispute. This article discusses the links of the Book of Jeremiah especially with the warnings in Leviticus 26 and the curses in Deuteronomy 28, but then goes on to show that it also picks up promises from the Torah and thus indicates a way to salvation. In doing so, it comes close to the Book of Isaiah. The intertextual comparison between these two prophetic books reveals that the entire Book of Isaiah may be the source for similar announcements in the Book of Jeremiah, yet also for taking a more nuanced stance. Intra-disciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The literary relationship between the Torah and Prophets as well as between the Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah is seen anew from an Old Testament perspective with its dogmatic implication for a portrayal of God.
  • Eckart Otto’s contributions to Pentateuchal research

    Thomas C. Römer (AOSIS, 2019-12-01)
    In order to highlight and appreciate Eckart Otto’s contributions to a better scientific understanding of the Pentateuch, I will not enumerate and comment on all the books and papers that he has written in this regard because of space constraints in this article. I will proceed in a different way and start by summarising of what has happened in Pentateuchal research in Europe in the last 40 years. At the same time, I will try to show that Otto played a major role in these changes. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article gives an overview of Pentateuchal research in Europe over the last 40 years, with specific emphasis on the role that the German Old Testament scholar Eckart Otto played in these developments.
  • Being church in the era of ‘homo digitalis’

    Wim A. Dreyer (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    This article discusses practical ecclesiology, which reflects on the church of the 21st century from historical, empirical, hermeneutical and strategic perspectives. We live in the era of digital revolutions and ‘homo digitalis’. Virtual reality has radically altered the way we work, play, shop, study, keep in touch with friends and family, meet new people and express ourselves. For many, it is the only reality. This new reality raises many questions: Will it accelerate the ecclesial crisis of our time? Does it create opportunities to speak of God? How does it impact on our understanding of the church? A relevant, contemporary ecclesiology needs to address these questions. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Since the 15th century, a number of scientific discoveries and technological inventions have challenged all preconceived ideas of God and the universe. The impact of technology and the relation between faith (church) and reason (science) have often been discussed. It is no different at the beginning of the 21st century. The digital evolution is challenging churches all around the world to reflect on the human condition, faith as well as the nature and calling of the church within a radically new context. This contribution reflects on the interface between technology and theology in the era of ‘homo digitalis’.
  • The importance of lament in pastoral ministry: Biblical basis and some applications

    June F. Dickie (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    Lament is little understood or practised in most contemporary church communities. However, in today’s world of increasing trauma, this means of grace is much needed. In this article, after providing a biblical basis for lament, focus is given to practical applications of lament in various communities. The studies included refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi living in Cape Town, ‘discipleship groups’ in two townships of Cape Town and an AIDS-support group near Pietermaritzburg. The empirical studies use biblical literature (mainly psalms of lament) either to provide a voice for those who battle to express their pain or to provide a model for sufferers to compose their own laments. Results show that biblical lament can help the individual find healing (social, physiological and spiritual), promote a more socially aware community and help church members gain a better understanding of the nature of the Christian life and the character of God. Consequently, it is highly recommended that those who seek to help trauma-sufferers consider the importance of lament in their ministries. As they then put the theory into practice, those who for so long have felt isolated or misunderstood in the Church will find solace and find healing for their pain. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study challenges current practices in the Church and provides practical applications of the notion of lament, which over the last 20 years has gained much traction in practical theology and biblical studies. Proven empirical studies show how lament can help individuals and the community to find healing.
  • Response of public theology to the voices of the voiceless in pluralistic South Africa

    Kelebogile T. Resane (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    This article identifies public theology as reflective endeavours and tasks of the Christian community seeking to address the societal ills and concerns. The aim of public theology is to bring hope to the culture that is increasingly cynical about common human future. The historical sketch of South Africa since 1994 as a secular state helps to understand the impact of pluralistic ideology in formulating the laws of the land. In many cases, these laws are at loggerhead with the needs of the masses who become unheard and unseen. The current status quo in hierarchies of societies had become a concern to be addressed from theological perspectives. Realpolitik had become elevated and vox populi become relegated. It is herein argued that the Christian faith in South Africa is silenced by the powers of secularism and majoritarianism within the civil structures. The role of public theology is explored and expanded to include uniqueness, prophetic role, critical role and public initiatives that lift up the dignity of humanity in the face of pluralistic influences. The call is made for theology to enter the journey of transition from stoical passiveness towards communal, formative, critical and public activism as demonstration of the love of Christ incarnate. Parochialism and defeatism are not the ideal options for the public theology. As an epistemological discipline, an appeal is made for theology to become significantly and visibly public in civil matters despite the pluralistic penchants and predilections. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article challenges public theology to take a lead in addressing human misery in pluralistic society of South Africa.
  • Die Paasfeesviering van die Henogitiese Quartadecimane in die eerste drie eeue van die Christendom

    Wilhelm Pretorius; Johan M. Van der Merwe (AOSIS, 2019-09-01)
    The celebration of the Passover of the Enoochite Quatradecimans during the first three centuries of Christianity. Development concerning the determination of Passover or Pascha’s annual date took place during the first three centuries of Christianity. This led to a controversy in the mid-second century AD which became known as the Quartadecima Controversy. The date and duration of the Passover were the main issues. During the controversy two main streams emerged, namely the Quartadecimans and Anti-Quartadecimans. The Quartadecimans celebrated the 14th of the first month annually as the commencement date of the Passover. The Anti-Quartadecimans set the first or second weekend after the 14th of the first month annually as the Passover celebration date. In spite of the two main streams, commonly accepted by modern-day researchers, various variations developed within these two main streams. These variations have not been discerned and analysed in modern-day research. One of these variations, namely the Enochite Quatradecimans is the subject of this article. They are being portrayed as a unique and discernable variation within the Quartadeciman main stream. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article connects the research fields of New Testament and Church History in trying to understand how and when the Passover was celebrated during the first three centuries of Christianity.
  • Reading 1 Corinthians 7:10–11 in the context of intimate partner violence in Nigeria

    Solomon O. Ademiluka (AOSIS, 2019-09-01)
    In Nigeria, most of the mainline churches forbid divorce and remarriage, and one of the passages most popularly quoted in support of this doctrine is 1 Corinthians 7:10–11. The traditional interpretation teaches that marriage is ‘for better, for worse’ and should be between one man and one woman for life. In view of the fact that this mode of interpretation is capable of enhancing the already high rate of domestic violence, this work examines the text in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Nigeria. Applying the analytical and exegetical methods, the essay investigates the possible correlation between the doctrine of no divorce and IPV. The research found that when understood against its specific context, 1 Corinthians 7:10–11 permits divorce and remarriage on grounds of adultery, and allows a deserted Christian spouse to remarry. It can also be deduced from the chapter that when IPV poses threat to life, divorce may be the appropriate response, and the affected spouses are free to remarry. In this way, a proper understanding of the passage can go a long way to reducing the rate of domestic violence in Nigeria. It is noteworthy, however, that the overall intent of the text is to protect marriage as a permanent institution, hence even when divorce has taken place, the church and concerned couples should still seek reconciliation. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The work employs the analytical approach for the investigation of the correlation between the doctrine of no divorce and IPV, and the exegetical method to the study of 1 Corinthians 7:10–11 and other related texts.
  • The semper reformanda principle under scrutiny in a South African context: A case study of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa

    Graham A. Duncan (AOSIS, 2019-10-01)
    The semper reformanda [always reforming] principle has been fundamentally ignored by the Reforming tradition since it was conceptualised. The growing cadre of those who support a fundamentalist disposition believes in the durability (perdurance) of the tradition in the form in which they promote it, although little of this is traceable to the Reformations or its promoters. They, unlike their 16th-century Reforming predecessors, are stuck in a literalistic mode of thinking which seeks to preserve and promote a static timeless faith which is applicable in all contexts for all time. Their literalism enables them to evade and avoid in-depth study of the text, the context and the contemporary context. This form of interpretation has taken root in Africa. It is challenged by the dynamic processes of contextualisation and inculturation whereby the gospel is incarnated in each context it encounters as it has done from the beginning of the Christian church. This article engages with primary sources of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) and the Fellowship of Concerned Christians in the broader contexts of the human sexuality debate and theological education as it investigates the ahistorical/static and dynamic/fluid theological views that inform contemporary thinking. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is interdisciplinary in the sense that it transcends the theological disciplines of Church History, Church Polity, Dogmatics, Practical Theology, African Theology and Missiology. The topic indicates the relevance of an inter-disciplinary approach in order to produce an inclusive, integrated and well-rounded approach within the broad field of hermeneutics.

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