Kinyua, Johnson Kiriaku (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Recognising the paradigm shift in African biblical studies where the image of a “decontextualized and non-ideological” scientific Bible reader is slowly being replaced with one of a “contextualized and ideological” reader, this research seeks to explore and understand the role of the “ordinary readers” in the development of biblical interpretation in colonial Kenya. It seeks to understand whether the semi-illiterate and illiterate can engage the Bible as capable hermeneuts. The study uses postcolonial criticism to recover and reconstruct the historical encounters of the Agĩkũyũ with the Bible. It reveals that ordinary African readers actively and creatively engaged biblical texts in the moment of colonial transformation using several reading strategies and reading resources. Despite the colonial hegemonic positioning, these Africans hybridised readings from the Bible through retrieval and incorporation of the defunct pre-colonial past; creating interstices that became sites for assimilation, questioning and resistance. The study proposes an African hermeneutic theory that accepts both scholarly readers and the ordinary readers with respect to biblical interpretation as constitutive of a community of readers positioned in a particular sociocultural milieu. It invites the socially engaged scholars to commit to: reading the Bible from the experienced reality of societal margins; reading communally with each other; and to read critically. The metaphor Sokoni (at the marketplace) is proposed as the starting point in which both the “ordinary” readers and scholarly readers can engage the Bible through the language of the African theatre and storytelling.
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