How do missiologists describe the cosmologies of those that Christianity encounters around the world? Our descriptions often end up filtered through our own Western religious categories. Furthermore, indigenous Christians adopt these Western religious categories. This presents the problem of local Christianities, described by Kwame Bediako as those that “have not known how to relate to their traditional culture in terms other than those of denunciation or of separateness.” Kevin Lines’s phenomenological study of local religious specialists in Turkana, Kenya, not only challenges our Western categories by revealing a more authentic complexity of the issues for local Christians and Western missionaries, but also provides a model for continued use of phenomenology as a valued research method in larger missiological studies. Additionally, this study points to the ways that local Christians and traditional religious practitioners interpret Western missionaries through local religious categories. Clearly, missionaries, missiologists, anthropologists, and religious studies scholars need to do a much more careful job of studying and describing the contextually specific phenomena of traditional religious specialists before relying on meta-categories that come out of our Western theology or older overly simplified ethnographies. The research from this current study of Turkana religious specialists begins that process in the Turkana context and offers a model for future studies in contexts where traditional religion and Christianity intersect.
This book explores the idea of religious and theological interculturation from a Christian perspective as an approach to evangelisation. It explores aspects of culture and pluralism as these have been interpreted in post-Vatican II approaches to mission and evaluates interculturation from a number of perspectives, including language, symbol and metaphor. It draws insight from two New Testament encounters of Jesus with women, in Samaria (John) and in Tyre (Matthew and Mark), and goes on to explore some historical sources of interculturation in the missionary endeavours of the Jesuit Matteo Ricci. A particular case study is made of the contemporary experience of an African people (the Turkana of Kenya).
Publisher: Gatineau, Québec : Canadian Museum of Civilization
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the beadwork of eastern and southern Africa is attracting growing attention from scholars and the general public alike. Long considered a craft without much authenticity, it has recently come to be considered an art form in its own right. This illustrated book examines the origins of beadwork in eastern and southern Africa and analyzes its aesthetics, its social meanings, and its historical context, through pieces drawn exclusively from public and private Canadian collections.
This volume comprises case studies of five centuries of European encounters with and imaginations of Africa encompassing her triple religious heritage: African Traditional Religions, Christianity and Islam. The introductory chapters outline the challenges and present overviews; some of them also analyze the early accounts of European travelers and missionaries. The following contributions examine the lasting legacy of the European Enlightenment in employing an ambivalent language of human equality and universalism, while in actual fact consigning Africa to an inferior position. It has been difficult for western scholars to divorce themselves wholly from the perceptions thus established. However, there have been quite different approaches. This is indicated in the papers discussing the role and impact of influential European academics (scholars of religion, theologians, historians and social scientists) during the colonial and postcolonial period. Other contributions examine specific institutional centers of African religious studies in Europe. The concluding chapters critically assess European approaches and their use for the study of religion in Africa from an African perspective.
This is the fascinating and important story of how God’s Word came to East Africa. Beginning with the pioneering efforts of Krapf and Rebmann, Aloo Osotsi Mojola traces the history of Bible translation in the region from 1844 to the present. He incorporates four decades of personal conversations and interviews, along with extensive research, to provide the first comprehensive account of the translations undertaken in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The maps and tables included assist the reader, as does a history of the Swahili language – its standardization, role as lingua franca, and impact on the work of translation. Mojola’s writing is a tribute to those who sacrificed much in their quest to see the word of God accessible to all people, in all places – and the many who continue to sacrifice for the peoples of East Africa. This book is a key contribution to the important and ongoing narrative of how God has met us, and continues to meet us, in our own contexts and our own languages.
In this volume, Gerrit J. Dimmendaal discusses the interaction between language, cognition, and culture in an African context with special focus on the cultural construction of meaning through language.
A research focus on hazards, risk perception and risk minimizing strategies is relatively new in the social and environmental sciences. This volume by a prominent scholar of East African societies is a powerful example of this growing interest. Earlier theory and research tended to describe social and economic systems in some form of equilibrium. However recent thinking in human ecology, evolutionary biology, not to mention in economic and political theory has come to assign to "risk" a prominent role in predictive modeling of behavior. It turns out that risk minimalization is central to the understanding of individual strategies and numerous social institutions. It is not simply a peripheral and transient moment in a group’s history. Anthropologists interested in forager societies have emphasized risk management strategies as a major force shaping hunting and gathering routines and structuring institutions of food sharing and territorial behavior. This book builds on some of these developments but through the analysis of quite complex pastoral and farming peoples and in populations with substantial known histories. The method of analysis depends heavily on the controlled comparisons of different populations sharing some cultural characteristics but differing in exposure to certain risks or hazards. The central questions guiding this approach are: 1) How are hazards generated through environmental variation and degradation, through increasing internal stratification, violent conflicts and marginalization? 2) How do these hazards result in damages to single households or to individual actors and how do these costs vary within one society? 3) How are hazards perceived by the people affected? 4) How do actors of different wealth, social status, age and gender try to minimize risks by delimiting the effect of damages during an on-going crisis and what kind of institutionalized measures do they design to insure themselves against hazards, preventing their occurrence or limiting their effects? 5) How is risk minimization affected by cultural innovation and how can the importance of the quest for enhanced security as a driving force of cultural evolution be estimated?
This attractively illustrated volume is the first comprehensive work for general readers on the origins of humankind's religious nature. By examining the footprints along the course of humanity's religious journey, Julien Ries is able to effectively counter attempts to root the origins of religion in evolutionary, ethnological, and sociological causes. His study uncovers the presence of a religious sense in humankind from our very first appearance on earth and shows that an inner religious structure is in fact an essential characteristic of our being human: homo religiosus. The Origins of Religions opens with a look at prehistoric man's first steps on the planet, then moves on to examine the cultic rituals, artistic expression, and expanding mythology that developed throughout the Paleolithic and Neolithic epochs. In these simple yet immensely meaningful religious practices we find the precursors to the development of systematic religion in the cultures of Sumero-Babylonia, pharaonic Egypt, China, Indo-Europe, and India, which in turn culminates in the birth of the three great monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
How is masculinity formed and transmitted between generations among the Pokot people in Kenya, and what are the most important male values? The author, Kjartan Jonsson lived and worked among the Pokot people for more than 11 years as a pastor and researched their life and religion, especially the rituals men go through from birth to death. The initiation rituals are the most important, particularly circumcision, as the initiates stay in special circumcision camps for up to three and a half months with mature men who teach them how men should live and the values of the Pokot male society. Rituals often reflect the importance of cattle in the life of the Pokot people, as cattle are the chief form of wealth and also serve as ritual sacrifices. A rich man can afford to have many wives and children, who serve as an important labour force tending to the man's wealth. All this gives him power and respect in society. Pokot men finally have one goal: to prolong their lives as ancestral spirits, which is only possible if they have sons who provide them with progeny, for which they become guardian spirits. The author's material on the Pokot people is put into the context of African traditional religion and theories of anthropology and science of religions about rituals.
Understanding Greek Religion is one of the first attempts to fully examine any religion from a cognitivist perspective, applying methods and findings from the cognitive science of religion to the ancient Greek world. In this book, Jennifer Larson shows that many of the fundamentals of Greek religion, such as anthropomorphic gods, divinatory procedures, purity beliefs, reciprocity, and sympathetic magic arise naturally as by-products of normal human cognition. Drawing on evidence from across the ancient Greek world, Larson provides detailed coverage of Greek theology and local pantheons, rituals including processions, animal sacrifice and choral dance, and afterlife beliefs as they were expressed through hero worship and mystery cults. Eighteen in-depth essays illustrate the theoretical discussion with primary sources and include case studies of key cult inscriptions from Kyrene, Kos, and Miletos. This volume features maps, tables, and over twenty images to support and expand on the text, and will provide conceptual tools for understanding the actions and beliefs that constitute a religion. Additionally, Larson offers the first detailed discussion of cognition and memory in the transmission of Greek religious beliefs and rituals, as well as a glossary of terms and a bibliographical essay on the cognitive science of religion. Understanding Greek Religion is an essential resource for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of Greek culture and ancient Mediterranean religions.
Attempts to understand the origins of humanity have raised fundamental questions about the complex relationship between cognition and culture. Central to the debates on origins is the role of religion, religious ritual and religious experience. What came first: individual religious (ecstatic) experiences, collective observances of transition situations, fear of death, ritual competence, magical coercion; mirror neurons or temporal lobe religiosity? Cognitive scientists are now providing us with important insights on phylogenetic and ontogenetic processes. Together with insights from the humanities and social sciences on the origins, development and maintenance of complex semiotic, social and cultural systems, a general picture of what is particularly human about humans could emerge. Reflections on the preconditions for symbolic and linguistic competence and practice are now within our grasp. Origins of Religion, Cognition and Culture puts culture centre stage in the cognitive science of religion.