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A contemporary African Jungian perspective on the verbal interaction between Jesus and Peter in the gospel of John.


The expression “the Christian Faith in Africa is a mile long but an inch deep” has been borne out in my ministry in the Anglican Church for over twenty –five years. I have, frequently, observed some clergy and congregations attempting to enhance personal spiritual maturity by employing a myriad of programs most of which require a lot of proof-texting thus encouraging a disingenuous use of the biblical text. Such attempts often prove counter-productive and fail to achieve the purposes they were designed for. This dissertation will advance three maturation processes which, when they are explored together, may produce an alternative way of producing the kind of spiritual maturity which has proved to be a mirage of most spiritual growth programs. The first of these maturation processes is Jung’s individuation process which was advanced by Jung in the 1940s. We will explore particularly the five stages of individuation to get to know the challenges a person may face on a journey to maturation. The second maturation process is the traditional Zulu rites of passage which, incidentally, also have five stages of maturation. The third process of maturation is the example of Peter as found in John’s gospel, Jung’s maturation process as well as the traditional rites of passage will be used to interpret Peter’s journey of maturation in John. The individuation process according to Jung has a strong individual maturation aspects which ultimately benefits the community one finds oneself in, whilst the African rites of passage are symbolized by a strong communal maturation aspect which have an immense bearing on the individual. John’s Gospel has indications for both the individual and communal maturation aspects and thus provides an appropriate convergence of the maturation process in the individuation process according to Jung as well as the maturation processes as symbolically depicted in the African rites of passage. In that way each person’s trajectory of spiritual maturation would have a more lasting duration as each person reads and rereads the John’s Gospel in the African context seeing more deeply into the links within the gospel. This could be a metaphor also for reading our lives holistically and in the light of our continuing personal and communal spiritual growth.


M. Th. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2016.


Jesus Christ., Bible. 1 Peter--Criticism, interpretation, etc., Jungian psychology--Religious aspects., Maturation (Psychology)--Religious aspects., Theses--Theology.