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"Am I really part and owner of this story?" : Musa W. Dube's Postcolonial and Feminist Hermeneutics of the Bible

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Title: "Am I really part and owner of this story?" : Musa W. Dube's Postcolonial and Feminist Hermeneutics of the Bible
Author(s): Gammelin, Lotta
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology, Department of Systematic Theology
Discipline: Systematic theology
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2011
Abstract:
The aim of this study in to analyze Musa Dube’s (b.1964) hermeneutics of the Bible by defining how she uses her theological frameworks, postcolonialism and feminism. Also theological implications of Dube’s work are discussed especially those concerning Christology, mission, and theology of religios. Sources of this study contain Dube’s dissertation and several articles written between 1996-2007. In order to understand Dube’s biblical interpretation it is essential to find out how Dube defines postcolonialism and feminism. Dube is from Botswana and her view of colonialism and postcolonial condition are strongly influences by her personal experiences in Southern Africa. Dube views colonialism as multifaceted phenomenon that has an impact on a range of things from geographical control and vulture to identities of the people involved. Most of all, she views imperialism and colonialism as ideological practices that result in the colonization of mind. Nowadays imperialism is manifested in globalization. Postcolonialism means struggle for alleviating the consequences of oppression. Feminism, according to Dube, is a liberation movement. Women in colonized zones are doubly oppressed, as they are at once under gender oppression in their own society and experience colonial subjugation. Postcolonialism and feminism are intertwined in her work, although postcolonialism seems to have stronger theoretical focus. The aim of Dube’s biblical hermeneutics is to bring about change. Reading must be in service of life and equality. Because the Bible was born in various contexts of colonial rule, it has imperialist ideology rooted in it. For instance the events of Exodus and book of Joshua reveal how God was used in order to legitimate the conquest of the land of Canaan. Canaanites were depicted as idolatrous and covenant with them was prohibited. They were constructed as inferior. IN the Gospels the imperial ideology is present escpecially in mission texts. According to Dube, the person of Jesus as textualized in in the Gospels reflects the colonial context of the Palestine of his time. In order to cope with the rule of the Roman empire, the Jews adopted imperial ideology. This is seen in the mission theology of the Gospels. The Bible aided the Western colonialism in Africa in various ways. It offered motivation to colonialists and missionaries. It also became a text that displaced indigenous stories, and thus alienated people from their own cultural and religious narratives. Also, translations to the indigenous languages were corroding since they were impregnated by colonial ideology. Dube’s reading methods suggest mote democratic ways of interpretation. She highlights the importance of ordinary readers and communities of faith. Her reading with –method involves cooperation between faith community and the scholar. Dube also employs various methods of story-telling in order to interpret the Bible : Dramatic telling and retelling biblical passages with other stories, such as African folk stories and scenes from her own life. Dube brings other stories alongside the Bible in order to dissolve the dominance of the Biblical narrative and to highlight that other stories of meaning and truth exist and have a right to be told. Dube does not read the Bible from the point of view of Christian dogma. Nevertheless, her interpretations have theological implications. Dube’s image of Jesus is ambivalent, since he is both a colonialist who claims all authority for himself, and in some of the sources, a liberator. Dube argues that the biblical mission texts echo unequal relationships . Disciples are sent to teach nations without a mutual need to be taught. Mission is repressive if it claims to a universal answer. Dube opposes the impression of Christianity as the only valid religion. All sacred stories have the right to exist and are equally valid. The value of Dube's hermeneutics does not lie in the area of truth claims but rather in facilitating the reclaim of identity that has been violated by colonial and patriarchal oppression.


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