By Matthew Engelke
Situating the Masowe case inside a extensive comparative framework, Engelke exhibits how their rejection of textual authority poses an issue of presencewhich is to assert, how the spiritual topic defines, and claims to build, a courting with the religious international throughout the semiotic potentials of language, activities, and items. Written in a full of life and available type, an issue of Presence makes vital contributions to the anthropology of Christianity, the historical past of religions in Africa, semiotics, and fabric tradition studies.
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Additional info for A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church
Generally, however, Christians in these conservative churches “are committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and they resist, often passionately, any theology that departs in their eyes from the teachings of Scripture” (Crapanzano 2000, 34). The fundamentalists take Luther’s idea of sola scriptura to its most radical conclusion: in their vision of faith the Bible oﬀers “internal aﬃrmation of its own authority” (Crapanzano 2000, 59). It is interesting to note that conservative Protestants often stress the materiality of the Bible.
They see themselves as taking up the enthusiasm of the earliest converts and reclaiming the direct dialogue with God. Of course, Christianity did not remain an “oral faith” (Stock 1990, 3), or, as it is often characterized, a religion of the downtrodden (Merdinger 1997, 3–27). By the late fourth century, the time of Saint Augustine’s conversion, Christianity had become the oﬃcial religion of the Roman Empire, the Church was ﬁrmly established, and the canonical texts of the New Testament were coming into place.
Gather together the People, the men, the women and the children and the stranger within your gates, in order that they hear and in order that they learn and they fear the Lord your God and watch to perform all of the words of this Torah” (quoted in Boyarin 1993, 13; Boyarin’s emphasis). In this and in other examples Boyarin argues that “the usage indicates an oral act, an act of the speaking of language” (1993, 13). Moses wrote down the Law (the Torah), but it had to be brought to life; its authority was instantiated through the spoken word.