The study of supernatural powers is fraught with vexing hermeneutical challenges, which aggravate further in the African context. While on the one hand Western anthropology tends to discount the idea of supernatural powers by attempting to 'explain them away', on the other Western biblical scholarship has mainly worked from the premise of 'demythologizing' them. But none of these approaches make tangible sense to African scholars for whom supernatural powers constitute an integral component of their spiritual psyche.
The Pauline Concept of Supernatural Powers, based on an examination of over a thousand documentary sources (both classic and modern), attempts to address the issue of interpreting supernatural powers from an African worldview. The author analyzes, identifies, and critiques major hermeneutical errors and offers a 'bridging hermeneutic' using the method of reader-response criticism.
This book tackles an extremely important topic for African Christianity. Bringing Paul into relation with African religion requires considerable skill in hermeneutics, and Dr. Gatumu's success in this task is admirable. His discussion of the Pauline language of "powers" and of the problems in "demythologizing" is among the best I have seen.
-John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham, UK
I expect Dr. Gatumu's book to attract a good deal of attention from those who are seriously engaged in cross-cultural communication. And I hope and pray that it will achieve its goal of facilitating the sound words of 2,000 years ago to speak with clearer and better effect to the challenges and concerns of the present.
-James D.G. Dunn is Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham, UK, from the Foreword
This book explores the Pauline conception of supernatural powers from an African perspective. It draws parallels between the African context and that of Paul's original audiencetwo contexts which share common beliefs about the existence of supernatural powers and of how such powers hold sway over human lives. This clear, concise and engaging volume powerfully recasts a subject that has largely been ignored in our post-Enlightenment world. The contribution of Gatumu's excellent work is to suggest cultural hermeneutics as a fruitful way of interpreting the Bible for modern day readers. He finds, in this regard, "indigenous socio-political and religio-cultural context" and effective heuristic key into the world of the Bible. I commend this important book as one of the best resources available on the subject.
-Joseph D. Galgalo is a Professor and Dean, Faculty of Theology, St. Paul's University, Limuru, Kenya
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