Africanization of biblical studies

School of Mission and Theology (now part of VID Specialized University) hosted a research project on “Africanization of biblical studies” from 2002 till 2006. The project was funded by NUFU: Norwegian Programme for Development, Research and Education, and it included three PhD scholarships and some research also from the supervising teams. The project was a collaboration between the School of Mission and Theology and the University of South Africa (Unisa), and the candidates got their degrees from Unisa. Professor Knut Holter directed the project and was co-supervisor for all three PhD projects, but each of them also had a main supervisor from Unisa: Professors Magdel LeRoux, Madipoane Masenya, and Willie van Heerden.


Georges Andrianoelina Razafindrakoto
(Lutheran Graduate School of Theology, Antananarivo, Madagascar)

…did a PhD entitled “Old Testament texts in Malagasy contexts: An analysis of the use of the Old Testament in three religious contexts in Madagascar.” Full text is available here.

Lechion Peter Kimilike
(Tumaini University Makumira, Usa River, Tanzania)

…did a PhD entitled “An African perspective on poverty proverbs in the Book of proverbs: An analysis for transformational possibilities.” Full text is available here.

Philip Lokel
(Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda)

…did a PhD entitled “The importance and challenges of finding Africa in the Old Testament: The case of the Cush texts.” Full text is available here.


  • Knut Holter: “Let my people stay! Introduction to a research project on Africanization of Old Testament studies,”Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 377-392.

  • Madipoane Masenya(ngwana’ Mphahlele): “Challenging poverty through proverbs: An African transformational hermeneutic,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 393-404

  • Lechion Peter Kimilike: “Using African proverbial folklore to understand the holistic poverty eradication framework in the Book of Proverbs,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 405-417.

  • Lechion Peter Kimilike: “The poor are not us! An exploration into the transforming possibilities of Old Testament and African proverbs on poverty,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 418-428.

  • Willie van Heerden: “It’s on the old mat that one weaves the new one: The dialogue between African proverbs and biblical texts,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 429-440.

  • Magdel Le Roux: “Using the Old Testament to interpret Africa: The Malagasy religious context,” Old Testament Essays19 (2006) 441-454.

  • Georges Razafindrakoto: “The Malagasy famadihana ritual and the Old Testament,» Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 455-472

  • Georges Razafindrakoto: “The Old Testament outside the realm of the church: A case from Madagascar,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 473-485.

  • Madipoane Masenya(ngwana’ Mphahlele): “Killed by Aids and buried by religion: African female bodies in crisis,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 486-499.

  • Willie van Heerden: “Finding Africa in the Old Testament: Some hermeneutical and methodological considerations,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 500-524.

  • Philip Lokel: “Previously unstoried lives: The case of Old Testament Cush and its relevance to Africa,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 525-537.

  • Philip Lokel: “Moses and his Cushite wife: Reading Numbers 12:1 with undergraduate students of Makerere University,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 538-547.

  • Magdel Le Roux: “The Lemba: The ‘People of the Book’ in Southern Africa,” Old Testament Essays 19 (2006) 548-557.

The main publication of the project as a whole was a special issue of Old Testament Essays in 2006, with these 13 articles by the PhD candidates and supervisors of the project.

The 13 articles were also published in an anthology: Knut Holter (ed.): Let My People Stay! Researching the Old Testament in Africa: Report from a Research Project on Africanization of Old Testament Studies. Nairobi: Acton Publishers, 2006.

In addition, Lechion Peter Kimilike published a revised version of his PhD thesis as Poverty in the Book of Proverbs: An African Transformational Hermeneutic of Proverbs on Poverty. New York: Peter Lang, 2008 (Bible and Theology in Africa, 7).

Also, two of the Unisa participants and supervisors in the project, Professors Willie van Heerden and Magdel LeRoux published a study of the experiences of supervising through teamwork that was made throughout this project, cf. their “Postgraduate supervision as teamwork: ‘The Africanisation of Biblical Studies’ project – a case study,” Scriptura 101 (2009) 259-273. Full text is available here.