Original Research - Special Collection: New Testament landscape in Zimbabwe

Power and vulnerability: Re-reading Mark 6:14–29 in the light of political violence in Zimbabwe

Conrad Chibango, Henerieta Mgovo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 4 | a8994 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i4.8994 | © 2023 Conrad Chibango, Henerieta Mgovo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2023 | Published: 22 December 2023

About the author(s)

Conrad Chibango, Department of Philosophy of Religion, School of Heritage and Education, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, Zimbabwe; and Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Henerieta Mgovo, Department of Philosophy of Religion, School of Heritage and Education, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, Zimbabwe; and Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

This article examined the story of the beheading of John the Baptist according to the Gospel of Mark (6:14–29) and drew lessons for the situation of politically motivated violence perpetrated by the youth in Zimbabwe. Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe is a well-documented problem that negatively impacts on human rights. The article used the historical-critical method in its re-reading of the text in question and the ‘youth bulge theory’ as theoretical framework. Documentary analysis was employed to solicit data from various reports, documents and the Internet. Results showed that it was mostly the poor and unemployed youth who engaged in acts of politically motivated violence and did so on behalf of political parties and leaders. Based on these findings, it is argued that just as both Herod and Herodias abused their power by manipulating the daughter of Herodias in their plot to eliminate John the Baptist, so did powerful Zimbabwean politicians and leaders manipulate economically and socially vulnerable youth for their own political expediency.

Contribution: Drawing from Mark 6:14–29, this article presents an application of the New Testament text of Mark 6:14–29 to the politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe in order to promote responsible leadership for a peaceful and tolerant Zimbabwean society. It also contributes to the argument that New Testament texts are intrinsically political documents, which scholars should try to unpack.


Keywords

‘Mark 6:14–29’; historical criticism; Youth bulge; political violence; Zimbabwe

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