Repository logo

Social transformation from a biblical perspective: a contextual reading and interpretation of Luke 18:35-19:10 in rural Tanzania with reference to Mbinga Catholic Diocese.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This work is an attempt to read Luke 18:35-19:10 in the context of a poor rural community in Mbinga Catholic Diocese in Tanzania. For its theoretical grounding, the study uses both liberation hermeneutics and African contextual approaches to guide and inspire a critical reading of the selected biblical text. Lk 18:35-19:10 consists of two short episodes that mirror two social extremes in most human communities: the poor, represented by a nameless blind beggar (18:35-43), and the affluent, as represented by Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (19:1-10). The aim of reading these stories in the Contextual Bible Study (CBS) with poor rural people was to invite them to begin considering biblical texts as a lens through which their socio-cultural and economic realities could be examined, reflected upon and, perhaps, addressed at a spiritual and practical level. When interacting with the poor, one notices that they are endowed with wisdom, knowledge and a perspective unique to them. However, for years in Biblical Scholarship, especially in the Catholic tradition, ‘knowledge from the underside of history’ (in the words of Gutiérrez), was not given an opportunity to express itself. In response to this oversight, the CBS, as propagated by Gerald West, provides ordinary readers with the space they need to examine and articulate, from their own perspective, their concerns and insights in the light of faith and the Word of God. The role of a trained reader remains that of facilitating the CBS process, and of enabling ordinary people to become flesh and blood readers. As the poor closely read Lk 18:35-19:10, they try, to the best of their ability, to retrieve and pay attention to components that focus on their own liberation from oppressive socio-cultural and economic structures. The story of the blind beggar functions as a metaphor for individuals (or nations) who think that they cannot make ends meet without receiving alms or foreign aid. A change of mindset is recommended in order to begin looking for solutions from within. Blindness also serves as a metaphor in the Zacchaeus episode for unethical leaders, whose reason is clouded by dishonesty and an unhealthy attachment to material wealth that ultimately blinds them to the demands of social justice. The thesis’ main concern, therefore, has been that of seeking to engage the ordinary readers in the struggle against rural poverty.


Doctoral degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.