Original Research

Perichoresis and Ubuntu within the African Christian context

Jele S. Manganyi, Johan Buitendag
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 3 | a4372 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4372 | © 2017 Jele S. Manganyi, Johan Buitendag | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 November 2016 | Published: 31 August 2017

About the author(s)

Jele S. Manganyi, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Johan Buitendag, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This article is about the juxtaposition of the notion of perichoresis in the work and theology of the Cappadocian Fathers and the notion of Ubuntu in the African Traditional Religion (ATR). Perichoresis was a result of an attempt to understand and to resolve the relationships within the Trinity. The issue at hand was how to make sense between the one and the many at the same time. The Cappadocian Fathers understood the oneness of God as unity in plurality, not a singularity. One Ousia and three hypostases were based on the understanding of the relationships within the trinity. The question of three yet one God (the church in Jerusalem continued worship of God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit), the apostles according to the information we have never question nor try to resolve the position and status of Jesus within the oneness. It appears as though they celebrated the tension rather than resolving it. They heard from Jesus, who said to them ‘you believe in God believe also in me’ and ‘if you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him … whoever has seen me has seen the Father’. They also heard him when he said ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’. The article is going to investigate and analyse the two notions, Perichoresis and Ubuntu, within the African Christian context. Yet there is a tension between Jesus and the ancestors. Can this tension be resolved? The notion of Ubuntu is based upon the understanding that a person becomes fully a person in the presence of other persons. It is a notion that deals with the relationships from an individual to the community and from physical to spiritual perspectives. The article shall also attempt to analyse any categories of thinking that are within the ATR that may better explain the relationship within the Trinity.


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