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The sustaining power of the Bible to the martyrs during the persecution in Madagascar from 1828-1861 : historical and hermeneutical analysis.

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This thesis comprises six chapters. Chapter one consists of the statement of the research problem. It covers the outlin of the dissertation and the background of and motivation for the research. It also includes the research problem and the theoretical framework. The last section of the introduction will be the limitations and the assessment of the main resources used in this study. The aim of chapter two is to give the background information of the people of Madagascar in general, and the Merina in particular. It gives a general understanding of their world. It includes a brief description of the island and its population, the location of the Merina and their origin, also their traditional beliefs and religion, the attempts of the early Catholic missionaries to evangelise the Island and Radama's contract with Great Britain. Chapter three deals with the first encounters between the Bible and Merina Christians around the capital of Antananarivo. It highlights the arrival of the first LMS missionaries and their mission in and around the city of Antananarivo, the presence of the Bible in the highlands and the use of it as a text book in schools. From that moment the Merina population sensed that the Bible had power; as a result their interest to get copies of it grew throughout the capital and the surrounding villages. Chapter four provides information about the uncertainty of Christianity in Madagascar. It was uncertain because of the death of Radama, friend of the missionaries, and the accession of Ranavalona I, an anti-Christian queen, to the throne as his successor. It continues with the dusk: a period of confirming the church, then the queen's edicts against the converts. It ends up with the edition of the Bible, translated into the Malagasy language. The focus of chapter five is the sustaining power of the Bible during persecutions. First of all it considers the causes of the persecutions, then the role of the Bible in the Malagasy language in the hands of Christians. After that it speaks of the use of the Bible by the indigenous Christians and the power they gained from it during times of persecution. It also speaks about the edict of the queen to collect all the Bibles and burn them, and how the Christians managed to save some and hide them. Then it concentrates on the three waves of martyrdom, in 1837-1842, 1849 and 1857. Lastly it highlights the courage of these martyrs until death with the Bible in their hands and the contribution of the Bible to the growth of Christianity in Imerina during the persecution. Chapter six will be the conclusion of the thesis. It underlines three aspects of the Bible and its encounters with the martyr church. It considers, in the first aspect, the effects of the translation of the Bible into the Malagasy language. The second aspect deals with the interaction of the Bible with the Malagasy culture and context; and the last is about the power of the Bible itself. The very last paragraph will try to prompt a further research on the Bible and its impact in Madagascar after Ranavalona's death.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2005.


Theses--Theology., Martyrs--Madagascar., Madagascar--Church history--19th century.