Internal and external imperial dynamics in Habakkuk : a contextual study of the Book of Habakkuk from a Malawian socio-economic and political viewpoint.
This study is an economic reading of the book of Habakkuk from Malawian socio-economic and political viewpoint. It is a good example of scholarly study of Scripture not done as „art for art‟s sake,‟ but undertaken because of the recognition that the Bible has something essential to say to a critical human situation. Designed as a dialogue between an ancient biblical text of Habakkuk and a modern context of Malawi, the study examines the internal and the external imperial dynamics in effort to better appreciate the shared relevance of these two chronologically disparate contexts. The two contexts share the common reality that both are socially, economically and politically shaped by the challenges of devastating imperialism. The dialogue is facilitated through a contextual biblical studies framework – using the tri-polar model or the African contextual biblical hermeneutics model – that recognizes the importance of our contexts in the interpretation of the biblical text. Since we cannot measure the people‟s well-being through the eyes of the elite but of those who suffer and struggle in life, this study deliberately chose the context of the poor and marginalized to be the subject of interpretation. To truly understand the Bible is to read it through the eyes of the oppressed, since the God who speaks in the Bible is the God of the oppressed (Fiorenza, 1981:100). The study will use liberation and postcolonial biblical hermeneutics belonging to the wider context of biblical interpretation in theology of liberation as sub-theoretical frameworks. The two frameworks are ideo-theological orientations where potential lines of connection between the biblical text with its contexts and today‟s readers and their contexts are drawn. This study is concerned with why Malawi is still rated among the ten poorest countries in the world with over half of its populace still living below the poverty line despite having been independent for fifty-one years? Malawi continues to face many socio-economic and political problems, which are caused by economies of extraction – a particular form of capitalism that African states inherited upon gaining independence from colonial masters. It is exploitive as it involves those who do not labour gaining from those who labour. In this study, economies of extraction are a useful link between economic dimensions of Habakkuk and those of Malawi. The study therefore aims at exploring what is contained in both Habakkuk and Malawi that assists us to understand and value both contexts. Such an interpretation within the context of a critical situation, theology of liberation offers a message that has as its aim emancipatory effects on the poor and marginalized (Fiorenza, 1981:109).