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Reception of the Bible in African prophecy : with special reference to Isaiah Shembe.

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African encounter with the Bible is different from their encounter with Christianity. This thesis looks at different stages of African reception and appropriation of the Bible in African prophecy. The appropriation of the Bible by Africans is important to look at because it allows them to use their own thought pattern in order to understand the Word of God. Isaiah Shembe (1870-1935) is one of the AlC's prophets who sought to revitalize his Zulu community after the dispossession of their cultural identity in the name of Christianity. He did .. this through his different hermeneutical interpretation of imibhalo eNgcwele (Holy Scriptures) and through his maintenance and revival of social customs. When missionaries came with the Bible in Africa there also came with them colonialists and it is evident that the two went together. Africans did not only see the Bible as a tool for western colonialism but also as a book of numinous powers. However, it was not long before Africans realized that there was nothing wrong about the "Book" because when they could read it for themselves they realized that the Book portrays a life that is similar to theirs. The researcher sought to separate the Bible from Christianity in order to understand different stages of the reception of the Bible in Africa. This thesis, then looks at the appropriation of the Bible in African prophecy. It argues that in African prophecy the Bible is used to renew African society. This is done by examining and contrasting the material of two Zulu prophets Isaiah Shembe and George Khambule. These two prophets who emerge in the time of the destruction of the Zulu society have a religious experience that sought to restore and renew Zulu community. This is seen in the way they interpreted and enacted the promise of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation among their communities.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2006.


Shembe, Isaiah, d. 1935., Church of the Nazarites., Christianity--Africa--20th century., Zulu (African people)--Religion., Bible--Hermeneutics., Bible--Africa--History.