Faculty of Theology
Department of Old Testament Studies
Selected Highlights from Research Findings
Of the different approaches to Bible translation, the literal and dynamic equivalent methods have been most influential in the Afrikaans community. At times, some of the various approaches have been presented as 'the best', which overlooks the reality that each translation method chooses to recount only something about a single aspect of the original text, such as the structure of the source language or a particular facet of the meaning of a pericope. This is illustrated with reference to Proverbs 1:7. The author has for theological reasons a preference for literal translations, which invites the reader to explore more of what has been revealed, whereas freer translations allows for only one option, which in the case of Bible translations is often culturally accommodating and hence personally unchallenging renderings of the source text. Yet, this does create grounds for judging the quality of different translations. The value of translations can only be measured relative to other translations following the same method and relative to the intentions with the translation.
Contact person: Ds CJS Lombaard.
To provide theological guidelines for modern leadership, an investigation was launched into Psalm 72 that deals with the wise king and royal mediation of God's universal reign. Psalm 72 propounds illuminating theological perspectives on leadership. The central figure in the psalm is the king. Throughout the Ancient Near East the king played a distinctive role, not only in contemporary politics, but also in religious life. Despite several differences from the other nations, kingship in Israel was rooted in the worldview of the ancient East. Similarities between the psalm and a Neo-Assyrian coronation hymn (7th BC) also reveal striking evidence. Yahweh, like other gods, commissioned the king for his tasks. The wise king in Israel, who alludes in Psalm 72 to the figure of Solomon, is obliged to rule with justice in order to maintain peace and prosperity in society. Wise leadership of the king will lead to the well-being of society. Theological principle is to be applied to modern leadership.
Contact person: Prof DJ Human.
In the debate on the historical Jesus Andries Van Aarde's book Fatherless in Galilee was evaluated as an important contribution to the historical Jesus study in South Africa. Van Aarde depicted Jesus as someone who grew up fatherless. For Jesus this meant a lifelong struggle against slander and the exclusion from the temple and the presence of God. Jesus nevertheless trusted God who filled Jesus' emptiness. Jesus was baptized and then started a ministry, focusing on the outcasts of society. He preached that the kingdom of God has come and that the people of this kingdom can experience God, as well as forgiveness of sins. Jesus died but arose in the kerygma. The article also refers to the struggle of the authors of the New Testament writings to understand and express the Jesus event.
Contact person: Prof JH le Roux.
In a time when the notion of canon is being drastically revised an investigation was launched in the process of canonisation during the second century BCE. In this study it was indicated that the books Ben Sira, Daniel and Ethiopian Enoch all originate from the beginning of the second century BCE. They did not end up in the same canonical collections. Daniel became part of the Protestant Old Testament Collection. Ben Sira was accepted in Roman Catholic circles as canonical. Enoch is a so-called pseudepigraphic book only found in the scriptures of the Ethiopian Christian Church. This observation leads to a revised view of canonicity. The process of canonisation is proposed to be working on different levels, characterised by dialogue. As final collection of books, showing literary layers, created by different movements in Judaism, canons are formed in a process of dialogue. Ben Sira, Daniel and 1 Enoch are all depicted as literature which displays this inherent dialogical character of canonisation.
Contact person: Prof PM Venter.
A literary critical investigation of Joshua 10:12-14 within the context of the pericope of Joshua 10 showed that the oldest version of the pericope probably was a heroic saga of Joshua's campaign, with the miraculous intervention of YHWH having been 'written into' the narrative at a later stage. During the latter process a poetic fragment, the original of which is lost to us, was interpreted literally, thus creating a miracle account. This miracle account serves the main focus of the pericope: YHWH alone makes possible the impossible for his people.
Contact person: Prof APB Breytenbach.