Culture and Contextualisation

A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars
Published by: Zondervan, 2006

The Africa Bible Commentary is the first one-volume Bible commentary produced in Africa by African theologians to meet the needs of African pastors, students, and lay leaders. Interpreting and applying the Bible in the light of African culture and realities, it furnishes powerful and relevant insights into the biblical text that transcend Africa in their significance.

Also available in French, entitled Commentaire Biblique Contemporain.  [more...]

Authors: Karl Grebe, Wilfred Fon

We soon found that even the most experienced Christian leaders were not always sure how to relate the cultural phenomena to the biblical picture. On the whole, the church had bypassed the task of interpreting the cultural picture from the biblical perspective, leaving Christians to determine for themselves how to relate to the various traditions of their culture.

This 58-page booklet, available for download in both English and French, describes the key elements of an African Traditional Religion (ATR) worldview and interprets them in relation to Scripture:

  1. The Worldview of African Traditional Religion
  2. Christianity and the African Worldview
  3. The Biblical View of Spiritual Realities
  4. Interpreting ATR in View of Scripture

The authors conclude with implications for Christian communication and counseling in such contexts.  [more...]

Choosing Illustrations for Translated Scripture
Author: Michelle Petersen (2016)

Choosing to illustrate interesting events in the text may help build audience interest in the story of Scripture, and this interest may be more foundational to audiences’ relationship with God than knowledge of details about what objects and places looked like.

Illustrations often serve motivational functions for readers, especially reluctant readers, increasing their enjoyment of a text and the amount of time they give it. Various audiences require different kinds of Scripture visuals to care about the message and understand it well. Just as translators need to carefully check the words of Scripture, it is important that they also check Scripture illustrations with members of the intended audience, and if needed, change their choices based on this interview feedback. This paper encourages translation teams to check visual elements of Scripture with members of the intended audience, and helps prepare consultants to check illustrations based on local visual vocabulary, grammar and rhetoric.

This is an edited version of a paper presented at the Bible Translation Conference in October 2015, Dallas, Texas.  [more...]

Como tornar a Bíblia relevante para todas as línguas e culturas
Authors: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill
Published by: Vida Nova (2010)

This is the Brazilian Portuguese version of the book Translating the Bible into Action by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill.

A tried and tested resource that encourages meaningful Bible use in multi-lingual contexts through both written and oral media. Includes activities, assignments, further reading resources and links to useful websites.

This version has two extra chapters in addition to those found in the English version - "Addressing human concerns: Alcohol abuse", and "Sharing your faith with animists".  [more...]

Authors: Amy West, Jo Shetler

"Tensions naturally are high in a crisis, but when a person becomes a follower of Christ, some of those practices clash with Scripture, creating new and sometimes intense tensions."

This workshop focused on equipping believers to resist those pressures toward practices that conflict with their allegiance to God, and to overcome the internal tensions created so they might respond in ways that are scripturally grounded while still being culturally meaningful.  [more...]

Historical and hermeneutical study of ordinary "readers" transactions with the Bible.
Author: Mote Paulo Magomba
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg - MTh thesis (2004)

Abstract:
This study falls within the area of the Bible in African Christianity, particularly ordinary readers' appropriation of and interpretation of the Bible. It seeks to explore, firstly, the processes of the encounter between the Bible and the indigenous people of Tanzania, specifically the Gogo in central region. Secondly, this thesis seeks to identify some interpretative resources and emerging interpretative practices that have continued into the present of ordinary readers of the Bible.

This exploration is done by tracing the mission activities of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Tanzania, which began in 1844. The work of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) is also examined, particularly the role it has played in making the Book "open" to the indigenous, through translation.

Although there is continuity between past and present readings, this thesis demonstrates that ordinary readings are not static, they are dynamic; and over the years neo-indigenous interpretative moves have emerged which are a combination of both missionary and indigenous interpretative resources and methods. This reality is evident in the contemporary phenomenon of women and youths' songs in central Tanzania. These songs are creative interpretations of the Bible from an ordinary readers' perspective.  [more...]

A case study from the Paez of Columbia
Author: Marianna Slocum

We have found that these three factors—the credibility factor, the comprehension factor, and the prestige factor—are all-important components in promoting the use of a newly introduced vernacular translation in a newly written language.

This case history of the Paez, a minority language group in the Andean highlands of Colombia, South America, shows how the credibility and comprehension of the mother-tongue Scriptures and the prestige of the mother tongue affect the acceptance of the Scriptures. It considers how these factors can be addressed, noting the importance of using translators that are respected by the community, the production of high quality linguistic materials (e.g. dictionary and grammar books) and the value of producing a diglot glossary of key terms.  [more...]

Marriage and culture in West Africa in the light of the Scriptures
Author: Michael Jemphrey, 2015

Michael Jemphrey describes a recent Gospel and Marriage workshop held in West Africa. It brought together the domains of Scripture engagement and anthropology, demonstrating the relevance of the translated Scriptures in addressing local cultural issues.

The workshop included:

  • Discussion of contextualisation and syncretism in the Bible and church history.
  • Overview of marriage in the Old and New Testaments.
  • Presentation of anthropological research methods.
  • Case studies of marriage challenges from different countries in West Africa.
  • Study of several problematic areas of marriage in West Africa in the light of the Scriptures (polygamy, levirate marriage, divorce and remarriage, bride price and the cost of weddings).
  • Research in groups of six delicate questions in the realm of marriage and proposals for contextualised local practices.
  • Production of radio programmes to present each challenge and proposal to the local populations.

Download the workshop description as a PDF document.  [more...]