Read e-book online A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church PDF

By Matthew Engelke

ISBN-10: 0520249038

ISBN-13: 9780520249035

The Friday Masowe apostolics of Zimbabwe check with themselves as “the Christians who don’t learn the Bible.” They declare they don't desire the Bible simply because they obtain the observe of God “live and direct” from the Holy Spirit. during this insightful and delicate old ethnography, Matthew Engelke records how this rejection of scripture speaks to longstanding issues inside Christianity over mediation and authority. The Bible, in fact, has been a key medium by which Christians have famous God’s presence. however the apostolics understand scripture as an pointless, even harmful, mediator. For them, the materiality of the Bible marks a distance from the divine and prohibits the belief of a dwell and direct faith.

Situating the Masowe case inside of a huge comparative framework, Engelke exhibits how their rejection of textual authority poses an issue of presence—which is to claim, how the non secular topic defines, and claims to build, a courting with the religious international throughout the semiotic potentials of language, activities, and gadgets. Written in a full of life and available sort, an issue of Presence makes vital contributions to the anthropology of Christianity, the heritage of religions in Africa, semiotics, and fabric tradition studies.

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Extra info for A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church

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Or, at least, they ought to be so. backg round of the s tud y Having finished the initial consideration of the theoretical currents that shape my analyses of the Masowe apostolics, I want to make some brief remarks on the contexts of my fieldwork. My research was carried out in Zimbabwe over eighteen months during a seven-year period (February– May 1993, June–August 1996, January–December 1999). Most of it was conducted in Harare and Chitungwiza, although it involved a number of lengthy trips to other parts of the country, especially to those areas where the Friday apostolics have had a long presence.

The Maranke apostolics, for example, viewed their Masowe brethren condescendingly, secure in their book knowledge where the Friday apostolics were not. And a highranking official in a Pentecostal church told me that the idea of claiming to be Christian and then berating someone who brought a Bible to a church service was unthinkable. “What madness,” he said. However, the Friday apostolics are not the first Christians to question the importance and qualities of writing. Their arguments allow us to highlight a long-standing precedent of the spoken word as a privileged channel of communication with God.

In liberal theology the materiality of the Bible became recognition of its historicity, which signals both its human crafting and, in this era of suspicion, the limits of human understanding. For “conservative” theologians, on the other hand, the Bible often became not only a guide but also the destination. The Bible is the unshakable bedrock of faith and something that, as the Word, cannot be separated from God. In the most stringent of these faiths, the materiality of the Bible became presence of the divine—not representation, but presence; not sign, but actuality.

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A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church by Matthew Engelke


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