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Abraham Our Father

Paul and the Ancestors in Postcolonial Africa

by Israel Kamudzandu

Publication Year: 2013

"Father Abraham had many sons . . ." So goes the chorus that the Shona people learned from European missionaries as part of the broader experience of colonization that they share with other African peoples. Urged to abandon their ancestors and embrace Christianity, the Shona instead engaged in a complex and ambiguous negotiation of ancestral myths, culture, and power.

Israel Kamudzandu explores this legacy, showing how the Shona found in the figure of Abraham himself a potent resource for cultural resistance, and makes intriguing comparisons with the ways the apostle Paul used the same figure in his interaction with the ancestry of Aeneas in imperial myths of the destiny of the Roman people. The result is a groundbreaking study that combines the best tradition-historical insights with postcolonial-critical acumen. Kamudzandu offers at last a model of multi-cultural Christianity forged in the experience of postcolonial Zimbabwe.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

Other Books in the Series

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

...I would like to thank the following people who assisted and took part in the production process of this book. First and foremost, I want to thank my colleague, mentor, and friend Professor Harold Washington, who encouraged me to continue doing research on postcolonial readings of the Bible, especially Pauline literature. His comments during our conversations greatly motivated me and set me on an adventure that resulted in this book...

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pp. xi-xiv

...This book is about ancestry, spirituality, and culture among African Christians in colonial and postcolonial Zimbabwe—and about the surprising role the figure of the apostle Paul played in the colonial and postcolonial periods. The experiences of the colonized, the processes they reinvented or coped with, and how they identified themselves in relation to colonial forces are first on the agenda of postcolonial biblical interpretation...

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pp. 1-6

...This book seeks to comprehend Paul’s theology in the contexts of other cultures, more specifically a particular culture: postcolonial Christianity in Zimbabwe. This Christianity is not a stand-alone religion but a synthesis of Western and African cultures...

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1. Empire, Gospel, and Culture

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pp. 7-22

...To understand a nation, one must look at its history, culture, and religion, as well as the forces that shaped and transformed it. The following brief description of the history and identity of the Shona people of Zimbabwe and their traditional culture is intended to assist readers in understanding the foundations and developments of the Shona people and how they were transformed and shaped first by colonialism...

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2. Zimbabwe’s Religious Cultural Configurations

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pp. 23-44

...The period of colonial expansion and missionary education saw the transformation of Shona religion, culture, identity, and social structures. From the beginning, the educational process of both Africans and whites was the responsibility of colonial administrators and missionaries. When Western Christian missionaries came to Zimbabwe, their two main objectives were to supplant African traditional religion with...

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3. Postcolonial Shona Christianity

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pp. 45-64

...The subject of ancestry and descent from a powerful ancestor or founder holds a central place in politics, religion, and social life. The Romans and Greeks of the Augustan era (fourth century bce) claimed a powerful pedigree from Aeneas. The apostle Paul, who represented the religious-social world of Palestine...

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4. Aeneas—A Constructed Ancestor

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pp. 65-82

...In the overarching story of the last three chapters, I have discussed issues of power, ancestry, and religious identity during and after colonial domination. Focusing on the power of ancestors, this chapter will consider the construction and reinvention of Aeneas as an ancestor of both Greeks and Romans of the Augustan era. Chapter 5 will then focus on the juxtaposition of Aeneas and Abraham and how this comparison is useful in the exegesis and theology of Paul in colonial and postcolonial African contexts...

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5. Aeneas and Abraham Paradigms

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pp. 83-96

...I have argued that Paul, as well as his communities of Jews, Greeks, and Romans, were aware of ancestor traditions, especially the Augustan allegiance to founding figures. I have argued and will continue to emphasize that Pauline exegesis must begin to take into account the conditions of people’s context when reading biblical texts...

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6. Conclusion and Implications

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pp. 97-104

...The argument of this work has been to describe how Paul’s construction of Abraham in Romans assisted Africans to appreciate Christianity, not as a foreign religion, but as one that was in alignment with African traditional religion. The Aeneas-Abraham paradigm is new, and it fits the experience of African Christianity. This comparison is powerful because Paul did what Christians do...


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pp. 105-114

Index of Names

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pp. 115-116

Index of Passages

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pp. 117-120

E-ISBN-13: 9781451426298
E-ISBN-10: 1451426291
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698171
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698177

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013