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

Harries, James Osmar (2007). Pragmatic theory applied to Christian mission in Africa: with special reference to Luo responses to ‘bad’ in Gem, Kenya. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Historical Studies
School or Department: Theology
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Andover Baptist Church, Church of God
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania


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