Original Research

Down memory lane to a better future

Jakobus (Koos) M. Vorster
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a297 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.297 | © 2009 Jakobus (Koos) M. Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2009 | Published: 22 September 2009

About the author(s)

Jakobus (Koos) M. Vorster, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa

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In the body of research on an ethics of forgiveness, scholars differ about the place of remembrance in the act of forgiveness. One line of thought follows the argument of the philosopher Nietzsche, who maintained that people cannot live in the present when they are prisoners of the past. Without forgetting, the human species would have to relive the past continuously, and would never live in the present moment. Without forgetting, there can be no future. An opposite opinion follows the argument of Wiesel, who said that he discovered that only memory could help him to reclaim his humanity after the inhumanity of the Holocaust. What is therefore the relation between forgiveness and forgetfulness? This article deals with this question from a Christian ethical perspective. With a biblical-theological hermeneutical model as angle of approach, the investigation focuses on the evidence provided, in this regard, by the institution and meaning of the relevant feasts in the biblical history. These are the Passover, the Feast of the Huts, the Feast of Purim and the Lord’s Supper. The study reaches the conclusion that remembrance is an essential part of forgiveness, and should be a core ingredient in socio-political transition.


forgiveness; reconciliation; forgetfulness; remembrance; transitional justice


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