Dynamics in the process of contextualization facilitated by a West-European researcher: contextualizing the OT notion of ‘sin’ in the cultural context of the Kongo people in Brazzaville

Müri, Sabine (2016) Dynamics in the process of contextualization facilitated by a West-European researcher: contextualizing the OT notion of ‘sin’ in the cultural context of the Kongo people in Brazzaville. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

In order to be relevant, all theology must relate to context. This study is an example of the complexities encountered in the actual practice of contextualization. I apply and evaluate theoretical tools, and give explicit account of the practicalities and tensions arising in the process that I initiated as a cultural outsider. The research is conducted with reflexivity by which I uncover hidden assumptions that influenced the contextualization process and my interpretation of the collected data. I examine the notion of ‘sin’ in the Kongo culture and evaluate it through the lens of the OT understanding of ‘sin’. The project was undertaken with participation groups in Brazzaville and revealed that in the Kongo context, the place of the kanda (community) was a key element, while Nzambi (God) was strikingly absent from the discussion of ‘sin’. The main conclusions I draw from this practical theology research are twofold. 1) Regarding contextualization: In academic research theological and social studies are often divided into two different fields. The project reveals that the theological and the social disciplines are intrinsically connected which requires contextualization to be an interdisciplinary undertaking. Critical self-reflexivity regarding the cultural background of the researcher and the role she takes in the process is equally important as giving the cultural insiders a voice; contextualization is most fruitful when it is done by cultural insiders and outsiders together. 2) Regarding the understanding of ‘sin’: In the Kongo context, ‘sin’ is understood as any act that breaks the harmony of the community, allowing any kind of evil to enter it. This understanding needs to be transformed by the biblical view of ‘sin’ as always being committed before God, the creator of the world and the one to whom all human beings owe their life. The rich imagery for ‘sin’ in the OT cannot be captured by the one Kongo word disumu; a wider vocabulary must be developed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Item ID: 21638
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2017 15:01
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2018 16:56
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/21638

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