As I approach this essay containing some thoughts on why I participate in African biblical interpretation, I am filled with a mixture of fear and excitement. After my first visit to South Africa during July-August of 1996 to give a series of lectures over a six-week period, some colleagues asked me to publish some reflections on biblical interpretation in this region of the world. I felt completely incompetent to do so. My fear did not cause me to go away without saying anything to anyone, like the women in Mark 16:8. I talked to many people with excitement about my experiences, but I was afraid to publish anything about them, because I felt that my information was so limited.
Leftwich states in his essay entitled "Politics: people,
resources and power" from his book "What is Politics?"
"...politics compromises all the activities of co-operation and
conflict, within and between societies, whereby the human species goes
about organising the use, production and distribution of human, natural
and other resources in the production and reproduction of its biological
and social life." (Leftwich, 1984, p.64-65)
Politics therefore may be defined a means to resolving this conflict
through various means, which will be tackled later in this essay.
Second, Professor Mouton�s paper views reconciliation in the NT in terms of the miracle of "the power of God�s healing love and compassion" (p. 12). The undergirding topoi of NT miracle discourse focuses on the relation of God�s power to the individual body of a believer. James 5:13-18 shows how the gathered community is to focus with prayer and anointing of oil on individual believers who are sick. An underlying issue in NT miracle discourse is what God can and cannot do, and the conditions in which God will work with extraordinary power. Professor Mouton refers to "processes of personal, communal, societal, and cosmic healing" (p. 12). At this point, I would like to reflect on an experience some of us had at the Hammanskraal Conference in 1999. Two of the papers of African biblical interpreters, as I recall, explored the healing activities of members of African Independent Churches. Among all the papers, it seemed to me that these two brought forth some of the most severe concerns and objections. Miracle discourse, the members of the audience perceived, was a negative phenomenon, rather than in any way positive. Christian people who participate in miraculous healing rituals, it was asserted, regularly are informed not to go to health clinics, and the result is incredible suffering, unnecessary spread of disease, and unfortunate death. The presenters of the papers emphasized that dynamic, miraculous healing is a central part of religious belief, practice, and ritual. The amazing thing is that this kind of dynamic experience was so dominant in early Christianity that its discourse is strong in all four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Scholarly interpretation of the NT has much work to do to understand the deep commitment to miracle discourse in the center of early Christian story. Deeply grounded in social, cultural, and psychological healing, miracle discourse provides a second mode of reconciliation in Christian thought and action.