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Pragmatic theory applied to Christian mission in Africa: with special reference to Luo responses to ‘bad’ in Gem, Kenya

Harries, James Osmar (2007)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Linguistic research showing dependence on context in deriving language meaning discloses the integral linking of the Luo language with their departed ancestors and the upholding of customary laws. Meaning and impact being transformed in the process of translation from one context to another explains the severe limitations found in previous attempts at cross-cultural understanding between Western and Luo (African) peoples. Studying Luo people’s understanding of ‘bad’ in the light of the above reveals much that often remains invisible to Westerners. ‘Bad’ arises from the activities of ghosts acting through people’s hearts often as a result of breaking taboos. Cleansing, especially of ghosts, through prayer, keeping customary laws and salvation are used to counteract such ‘bad’. Conventional Biblical and mission hermeneutics are, in failing to account for pragmatic linguistics, found seriously wanting. Forces and powers being spiritually based in a monistic worldview amongst the Luo render clear cross-cultural communication with a rationalist and monotheist West impossible. Theological education based on African languages is advocated as the way to engage the challenges of Christianity with Luo ways of life in a way that will result in a deeply rooted African church, and a moral, vibrant, intellectually and economically active African society.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Anderson, Allan
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Historical Studies
Keywords:Theology, missiology, anthropology, linguistics, pragmatics, Africa, Luo, Gem, Kenya, Development, traditional religion, theological education, extension, translation, vulnerable mission, mission, bad, evil, hermeneutics, customary law, millennium development project, ancestors, cross cultural communication, ghosts, taboos, salvation, spiritual powers
Subjects:BL Religion
PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:15
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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