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

Paul, a stranger in Africa?

Jeremy Punt
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 4 | a8371 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i4.8371 | © 2023 Jeremy Punt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2022 | Published: 03 April 2023

About the author(s)

Jeremy Punt, Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa


Scholars in the past have signalled the almost complete absence of Paul – as a cypher for the Pauline letters and tradition(s) – in Africa. The apparent lack of use or deliberate ignoring of Paul in Black, African and Liberation Theologies on the continent in all its pluralist variety and richness is generally taken as testimony to the perceived strangeness of the apostle in Africa. However, even if Paul’s strangeness does not equate with his absence, at least not altogether, Paul’s profiles in Africa include dimensions such as Paul as a stranger, as an unwelcome guest, as a conquering traveller and as a victim of tradition. I argue that Paul’s absence from as well as strangeness in Africa may be more apparent than real, and that hermeneutical patterns and practices more than epistolary content may have played a stronger role in the construal of Paul in Africa.

Contribution: Evaluating a range of entrenched interpretive profiles of Paul in Africa exposed certain hermeneutical tendencies that offer the potential for reinterpretation and reassessment of the use of Pauline materials on the continent and elsewhere.


New Testament; interpretative tradition; hermeneutics; Paul in Africa; reception.

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