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Text and context : the ministry of the word in selected African indigenous churches.

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The dissertation focuses on preaching in the context of selected African indigenous churches. The aim of the study was to explore sermon texts as a genre of oral communication. The gathering of data was guided by the hypothesis that the sermons that are preached in the African indigenous churches are composed orally and communicated orally. Three church groups were identified for the purposes of this study. Although the intention, at the planning stage of the study, was to study a mixture of Ethiopian, Zionist and Messianic-type churches, practical considerations and also because of socio-political factors, the study was limited to church groups of the Zionist and Messianic types. The research was carried out through the method of participant observation of services of worship, extended interviews with church leaders, preachers and congregants and also through the use of audio cassette recordings during nine months of field work in Edendale in Pietermaritzburg, Port Durnford near Mtunzimi and Ndabayakhe near Empangeni. A central finding of the study is that in the African indigenous churches a sermon is prepared and has a form (structure). The structure of the sermon is that of an oral text. The oral texture of the sermon is influenced by the following contexts: an oral tradition; the Bible which is a written source with a repertoire of texts' church tradition which is orally transmitted; and the life setting and experience of the congregants. It was also found that the sermon text is presented as a 'performance' involving both the preacher and a live, active, close audience. The study concludes that the communication of the sermon is influenced by the structural form of the sermon text, the ability of the preacher to use literary products and visual resources, and also by the participation of the audience.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1992.


Sermons, Zulu., Oral tradition--KwaZulu-Natal., Oral communication., Preaching--KwaZulu-Natal., Zionist churches (Africa)--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--Orality-literacy studies.