Original Research - Special Collection: Religious studies

Mimesis in Bible Didactics – an outline in the context of religious education

Mirjam Zimmermann, Ruben Zimmermann
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 1 | a2785 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i1.2785 | © 2015 Mirjam Zimmermann, Ruben Zimmermann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2014 | Published: 23 October 2015

About the author(s)

Mirjam Zimmermann, Faculty of Theology, University of Siegen, Germany; Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Ruben Zimmermann, Faculty of Theology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany; Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, South Africa


‘Mimesis’ is a concept explored in Antiquity as well as in cultural history. It also plays an important role in the Bible. In this article we argue for ‘mimesis’ as a role model for Bible teaching in religious education. In the first part we give some insights into the concept of mimesis, drawing on ancient philosophers (Aristotle, Plato). ‘Mimesis’ does not denote a copy of a prescribed object; instead, the type of depiction and reference brings it into the present in an intensive, creative and productive way. In the second part we want to give some examples for how ‘mimesis’ is used in the Bible itself. Biblical tradition can be described as a ‘mimetic process’. Furthermore, authors like Paul explicitly use the concept of ‘mimesis’, for example in his ethical admonition. Thus, the use of ‘mimesis’ in the Bible inspires directly our teaching on biblical genres, motifs and ways of thinking. The third part gives a draft of how the ‘mimetic didactic’ works, drawing on parables, Gospel writing, Johannine theology and coping with painful fate like Job. Mimetic hermeneutics transforms tradition in applying it into the contemporary situation. This can prove stimulating for contemporary contexts: mimesis is closely connected to tradition, but simultaneously encourages its transmission into the present day with astonishing variability and freedom.




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