Original Research - Special Collection: Reception of Biblical Discourse in Africa

The Bible of the poor in the context of poverty, COVID-19 and vaccine nationalism: Hermeneutics of liberation from the perspective of the poor

Olehile A. Buffel
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 1 | a6920 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i1.6920 | © 2021 Olehile A. Buffel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 June 2021 | Published: 30 November 2021

About the author(s)

Olehile A. Buffel, Department of Philosophy, Practical Theology and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

To the poor, the Bible is a particularly important book which is read and reflected upon in the context of their struggles and their lived experiences. To the critics of Black theology, it may look like ‘liberation theologies’ have nothing to do with the Bible and faith. On the contrary, the Bible is very central to the spiritual journey of the poor in the light of their struggles in the context of poverty and COVID-19. This is the case as the poor struggle against poverty, which is exacerbated by COVID-19 and as they are then pushed aside in the struggle to access vaccinations amidst vaccine nationalism. The poor draw inspiration from the Bible and its themes that focus on God, Jesus, the poor and oppressed, the sick, the marginalised and all people who are suffering. To the poor, God is a caring person who is the parent and advocate of the poor, the oppressed and all the people who are suffering. The poor rely on the hermeneutics of liberation as they make sense of their horrendous conditions and their lived experiences amidst poverty and COVID-19 and as they are denied access to resources that are monopolised by the rich and the powerful nations. Using a theological-liberative hermeneutics, the article argues that the Bible is central in the struggles and lived experiences of the poor in the context of poverty and COVID-19.

Contribution: The article contributes to academic discourse that perpetuates misconceptions regarding liberation theologies. An erroneous impression is created that the Bible is not important to the poor in their spiritual journeys. The article contributes to discourse about the centrality of the Bible in the context of their pain and suffering. This is the context in which poverty is exacerbated by COVID-19 and vaccine nationalism as poor countries and communities struggle to access vaccines.


Keywords

the poor; the oppressed; context; black theology; liberation theology; Bible; liberative hermeneutics; COVID-19

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