(Scholarly) African Resources for Reading
The discussion so far makes it clear that Africans do not transact with the Bible ‘empty-handed’. Beside their distinctive experiences of reality, both religio-culturally and socio-politically, and the particular questions that such experiences generate, Africans have a range of hermeneutic strategies for transacting with the Bible. Knut Holter has characterized the interpretative strategies of African Old Testament biblical scholarship as consisting predominantly of comparative studies between the African experience and the Old Testament. At a more general level, there is the assumption that there is some common ground between the world-views of traditional Africa and Old Testament Israel, and at a more practical level there are detailed expositions of the religio- cultural affinities between the two. This predilection for comparative studies allows African experience and the Old Testament to ‘encounter and mutually illuminate each other’. By allowing the religio-cultural heritage (‘the myths’) and the socio-political situation (‘the meanings’) of Africa to interface with the Old Testament, Holter argues, African biblical scholars have much to offer their colleagues in the North.
However, and this is an important aside, when Holter examines Northern/First World/Western biblical scholarship he finds that African biblical scholars are marginalized, both in terms of their personal presence at international—that is Western—meetings and in terms of their scholarly production. Holter sees two factors as contributing to this marginalization. First, Northern scholarship has a very narrow conception of what constitutes biblical scholarship, and secondly, African scholars do not have the financial resources to enter the academic biblical studies market place of current literature, data bases, and conferences.
Within the predominantly comparative approach of African biblical scholarship, and Holter's comments concerning African Old Testament scholarship would cover African New Testament scholarship as well, African scholars make use of the full array of critical methods that constitute the tools of the trade of biblical scholarship: historical-critical, sociological, literary, and reader-response methods. But, because most African biblical scholars have been trained in the North in contexts where the historical-critical methods still hold sway and because resources, like books, reflecting more recent developments in biblical scholarship are expensive and therefore inaccessible to Africans, historical-critical tools tend to be the most prevalent.