Breaking words : towards a malagasy oral theology of homiletics.
This study uncovers the underpinnings of a Malagasy Lutheran oral theology of homiletics. Using original sermons collected in the field from a cross section of Lutheran preachers and places in Madagascar this study is anchored in contextual materials. To the close readings of these materials the author brings anthropological, textual and Biblical exegetical methodologies for their analysis. Making the distinction between oral and literate composition and cultures, using the theories of Werner Kelber, Walter Ong, Eric Havelock, et al., the author demonstrates the oral structure of the socio-intellectual milieu of Malagasy society. In order to display this mindset in Malagasy theological thinking, this study sets the Malagasy exegesis of the Longer Ending of Mark’s Gospel against the horizon of Kebler’s theory regarding the written gospel as a “parable of absence” in the main body of the Gospel of Mark. This study makes manifest the Malagasy theology of presence, an oral theology. Framing his research with the Fifohazana (Revival) movement, the author briefly surveys the history of Christian missions in Madagascar. This history serves to demonstrate Western missionary literate culture and theology entering into dialogue with the oral culture of Madagascar and the subsequent indigenization of Christianity in the Fifohazana movement. This Fifohazana serves as a paradigm of the Malagasy homiletic and oral theology. Key leading figures of this movement, Rainisoalambo and Volahavana Germaine (Nenilava) are discussed. Extensive appendices of original Malgasy material, while not forming part of the body of the thesis, are provided for reference.