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Primal worldview and the Bible : an African Christian contribution to a hermeneutical method from the perspective of the primal worldview, with particular reference to the Gikuyu of Kenya.

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The cross-cultural transmission of the Christian faith sustains its growth and expansion. Indeed the reception of the Christian faith is from one cultural framework to another different cultural framework. However, this largely depends on the translation and the interpretation of the Bible, which has certainly been in agreement to the way the recipient cultures conceive reality. From the time Christianity came into existence, the introduction of biblical concepts on which Christianity stands in terms agreeable to the way the recipients conceive reality continues to offer a clear understanding of the same. Indeed, this has been from the perspective of the primal worldview. However, this was not the case in Africa, where the primal worldview was demonised, degraded and anathematised by the missionary enterprises. This indeed denied the Africa converts a chance to engage with the Bible in ways they would call their own, for they conceive reality in terms shaped by their primal worldview. This study has the Glkilyfi primal worldview as its particular reference, to whom the missionaries transmitted the biblical knowledge selectively with the hermeneutical method they used. Now there is indisputable evidence that Christianity is growing fast in places where people conceive reality from the perspective of the primal worldview. To sustain and maintain this growth, the Bible ought to be interpreted and translated from the perspective of the primal worldview. This is necessary because the growth of Christianity depends on the right understanding of biblical concepts. Yet they are incomprehensible unless they receive an interpretation that is compatible to the way people conceive reality. In that case, there is need to investigate whether the former methods of interpreting and translating the Bible have adequately communicated the Gospel to African Christians. It is also necessary to investigate whether there is need for a hermeneutical method shaped by the primal worldview. This study contends that the former hermeneutical methods have not adequately communicated the complete Gospel to the African Christians. In that case, there is need for a hermeneutical method shaped by the primal worldview. Evidence that leads to the quest of a hermeneutical method generated by the primal worldview is from the history of the expansion of Christianity and from the phenomenology of religion. The primal worldview has tools on which hermeneutics can depend on, hence gaining valid operating principles. On the other hand, there is evidence from the Scripture that the interpretation of the new from the perspective of the old is possible. In that case, the old facilitates and enables the understanding of the new. The Epistle to the Hebrews is a perfect example, showing that the interpretation and translation of Scripture from the perspective of the primal worldview are possible. This will safeguard spirituality and the spiritual view of life, which hermeneutics need, and which the former hermeneutical methods seem to have jettisoned. However, the former hermeneutical methods are not all useless in the hermeneutical discourse. The hermeneutical method generated by the primal worldview can use them as servants but not as masters. Besides, the hermeneutical method generated by the primal worldview ought to have a future and significance, without which it can sink to oblivion. Two complementary aspects guarantee its future and significance. Firstly, it is its engagement with the ordinary readers of the Bible in their context. Secondly, it is in the use of the mother tongue, so that hermeneutics can be appreciable to both the ordinary and trained readers of the Bible. This is the hermeneutical method, which African Christianity must turn to with urgency to ascertain its growth.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2000.


Kikuyu (African People)--Religious llfe and customs., Christianity and culture--Kenya., Bible--Criticism, interpretation, etc.--Africa., Bible--Hermeneutics., Theses--Theology.