Original Research - Special Collection: New Testament landscape in Zimbabwe

Re-reading John 3:26–27: A comparative analysis of the politics of intolerance in Zimbabwe

Dzikamai Mundenda
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 4 | a9009 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i4.9009 | © 2023 Dzikamai Mundenda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2023 | Published: 22 December 2023

About the author(s)

Dzikamai Mundenda, Anglican Diocese of Harare, Harare, Zimbabwe; and Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

The Gospel of John seems to show different thematic emphases that reveal socio-historical cultural tensions and a stressed community. The tensions between Jesus, the Pharisees and Jewish authorities, John and religious authorities, and John’s and Jesus’ disciples stressed the unsettled community. A disagreement existed on the divinity, identity and legitimacy of Jesus. The tensions bore character assassinations, name calling, denigration, crucifixion and tensions among followers. John 3:26–27 is an archetype of the friction. In the same vein, the independent and post-independent Zimbabwe exhibited political tensions, hate speech, denigration and violence since 1980. The tensions eroded confidence, unity and decision-making of the electorate. The violence and human rights abuses left visible trails of suffering and humiliations. The societal and political tension triggered unbecoming behaviours causing economic and ethical meltdown. This research seeks to unravel the mindset that aggravates violence to provide a reprieve theologically. The socio-historical reading juxtaposed with comparative analysis points to averting hate speech and songs that fuelled intolerance. According to this research, parochialism originates from citizens uniting behind promised futures and peace, a product of leaders participating in promoting peace. This unity helps propel tolerance, accountability and responsibility.

Contribution: The study observes that citizens rally behind the promised future where leaders and ordinary citizens exhibit tolerance, accountability and responsibility. The leaders and the ordinary citizens can participate in amplifying intolerance, hate speech or character assassination. Vice versa, they can participate in controlling tensions and fights.


Keywords

intolerance; violence; Zimbabwe; politics; ethnical politics; Gospel of John; comparative analysis; socio-historical reading

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