The use of the Bible by African commuter-train worshippers in the Johannesburg area.
Although the Bible was brought to Africa by missionaries as part of the Western European colonial package deat Africans have claimed the book as their ownand have appropriated it from the perspective of their culture, world-view and life experience. It is as though Africans are asking, with the attendants in Jerusalem on Pentecost, "How is it that each of us hears [the wonders of God] in his own native language?" (Acts 2:8ff). In the midst of the stresses caused by poor working conditions, low wages and high cost of living, the African commuter-train worshipper has found the Bible to be an indispensable source of hope, and a source of life itself. In the morning, on the way to work, and in the evening on the way back home, the African commuter can still afford a smile as the Bible promises him/her solutions to all problems. When the problems seem insurmountable, the commuter finds solace in the Biblical beatitude "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20b). The commuter hears blessings pronounced on the hungry and the weeping in the Bible, and he is convinced that these blessings are pronounced on him too. The Bible is an indispensable tool in the hands of the African commuter-train worshipper, who interprets it and appropriates its message in a liberating manner, which the western mind sometimes cannot make sense of. The Bible remains the one book that gives dignity to all the commuter-train worshippers who live in squatter camps and sprawling townships, as it banishes all social inequalities. This study is about the way in which the African commuter-train worshippers read and interpret the Bible. The commuter's use of the Bible is placed within the context of the conventional African Biblical hermeneutical field. The commuter is recognized as an ordinary (untrained) reader whose contribution is highly valued by this author. This piece of work is a modest attempt at bringing to light the emerging phenomenon of commuter reading of the Bible, with the hope that Biblical scholars will take note of this rising phenomenon and give it the attention it deserves.