© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/157254309X449737 Exchange 38 (2009) 271-291 brill.nl/exch ‘Th e Name of God in Africa’ and Related Contemporary Th eological, Development and Linguistic Concerns Jim Harries Kima International School of Th eology, PO Box 75, Maseno, Kenya firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract Recent discoveries in linguistics here summarised reveal problems in the choice of an African name for God, especially when theological debate is in English, as it results in the ignoring of important diﬀ erences in how God is understood. Translating the Luo term ‘ Nyasaye ’ as ‘God’ ignores his Luo character as ‘bestowing force’. Similarly translating ‘God’ by ‘ Nyasaye ’ falsely assumes a carrying over of native-English theological presuppositions. Th ese diﬀ erences are shown to be consequential and, if disregarded, serious. Th e use of African languages rooted in African culture in debate is found to be essential for the future health of Christianity, and socio- economic development in Africa. Keywords theology, Africa, linguistics, epistemology, African languages, assumptions, culture 1. Introduction I recently asked an elder in a local church which we were visiting in Western Kenya how his people’s understanding of God today had changed from what it was 100
Exchange – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
Keywords: AFRICA; LINGUISTICS; ASSUMPTIONS; CULTURE; AFRICAN LANGUAGES; EPISTEMOLOGY; THEOLOGY
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