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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.24 n.2 Pretoria  2011


The role of historical-critical methodology in African Old Testament studies1



Knut Holter

MHS School of Mission and Theology, Norway





Based on the observation that the historical-critical methodology used in mainstream biblical studies reflects 188th to 20th century western epistemology and hermeneutics, the article addresses the role of this methodology in African Old Testament studies as it has developed since 1960. African Old Testament studies - in relation to historical-critical methodology - is then approached in three steps: first its context, with a focus on institutional and methodological perspectives; then its content, with a focus on its preference for comparative perspectives; and finally a critical perspective, with a focus on the potential of historical-critical methodology - at least when consciously used - to express critical concerns vis-à-vis the challenge that faces Old Testament interpretative communities not only in contemporary Africa, but at all times and places, namely to be more than just a mirror of current religious, cultural and political power structures.



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Knut Holter
Department of Biblical Studies
MHS School of Mission and Theology
Misjonsmarka 12, N-4024 Stavanger, Norway



1 The essay is a revised version of a guest lecture presented as a Visiting Professor within the Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, on September 23, 2010. My sincere thanks go to Professor Madipoane Masenya (ngwana' Mphahlele), the chair of the Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, for inviting me to spend some time at Unisa.

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