Original Research - Special Collection: African Women and Pandemics and Religion

Biblical interpretation during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic: Perspectives from Africa

Daniel N.A. Aryeh, Victor V.S. Molobi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 3 | a8096 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i3.8096 | © 2023 Daniel N.A. Aryeh, Victor V.S. Molobi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 September 2022 | Published: 19 July 2023

About the author(s)

Daniel N.A. Aryeh, Department of Biblical Studies and Church Administration, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Perez University College, Winneba, Ghana; and, Research Institute for Theology and Religion (RITR), College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa
Victor V.S. Molobi, Research Institute for Theology and Religion (RITR), College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Biblical interpretation and/or hermeneutics is largely influenced by context and prevailing events and/or issues. This is attested by many scholars in the field. Previous pandemics have influenced the way biblical hermeneutics is conducted during the period. The situation is not too different from the emergence of COVID-19. The pandemic has been scripturalised to argue that it is the fulfilment of scriptural signs for the second coming of Jesus. Others assert that it is the result of human sins and 5G technology. Amid these propositions, biblical narratives concerning miracles/healing, eschatology, and hope were handled uniquely. This study employs narrative research criticism to analyse various propositions concerning COVID-19 and how biblical texts were engaged to propound an epideictic rhetorical theory of biblical interpretation during the emergence of COVID-19. The main finding is that although there are many assigned eschatological interpretations to the pandemic, there is an epideictic interpretation of miracle narratives of Jesus to minister healing to persons affected and infected by COVID-19.

Contribution: This study emphasises the problem-solving approach to biblical interpretation in the African context. It proposes the application of this approach in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Keywords

Africa; biblical interpretation and/or hermeneutics; COVID-19; epideictic rhetoric; forgiveness; miracles; pandemic; sin.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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