An African Background to the Old Testament

Author: Isaac Boaheng
ISBN 978–9988–3–2359–2
Published:  23rd September, 2021.

When reading the Old Testament it is important to understand the background data against which the events took place and were documented. The world in which the authors lived informed their choice of words, their style of writing and the events they wrote about. One’s knowledge about the Old Testament cultural context, for example, will enhance the ability to understand a given text properly and apply it appropriately. A text cannot mean to the contemporary reader what it did not mean to the original audience. Therefore, understanding a biblical text in its original context is a key step to understanding it in the contemporary context and applying it to a contemporary situation. For this reason, a study of the contexts within which the Bible was written is crucial to biblical scholarship. There are many books on Old Testament backgrounds. However, most of such books are written from a Western perspective such that they fail to connect the African socio-historical context to the biblical context. Consequently, the study of the Old Testament in Africa has been a challenging enterprise for so many years.

Old Testament scholarship is significant in the African academy considering the strong connection between the African and Old Testament worldviews. The nexus between African traditional socio-religious culture and Christianity in Africa is inseparable. For example, the African and Old Testament understanding of such concepts as sin, creation, family, marriage, community, priesthood, and sacrifice are very close. As such, African Old Testament scholars are better equipped to comprehend, appreciate and communicate these concepts better (in the African context) than their Western Old Testament counterparts. Certainly, the optimal maximization of the cooperation between the African and Old Testament worldviews requires adequate exploration of the connection between these two worldviews.

An African Background to the Old Testament is a brief introduction to the geographical, social, economic, political and religious backgrounds of the Old Testament from an African viewpoint. It is written to help (African) Bible students to have access to the right background information required for proper interpretation of Scripture within the African setting. The seven-chapter book, after a thorough examination of the geographical, social, economic, political and religious backgrounds of the Old Testament from an African perspective contends that Old Testament scholarship in Africa must be carried out by those with adequate understanding and experience of the African socio-cultural context and must be done through proper interaction with that context.

The Book is written in a non-technical way to make it accessible to everyone. Every chapter is organized thematically in sub-headings. Each chapter also ends with a recap of the main points discussed and review questions to allow the student to reflect on what has been discussed before proceeding to the next chapter. Universities and Seminaries can use it as a textbook for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Old Testament Studies.

August 2021
Isaac Boaheng (Rev.)
Research Fellow
Department of Biblical and Religion Studies
University of the Free State, South Africa

Isaac Boaheng is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church Ghana, a translator with the Bible Society of Ghana, and a part-time lecturer at the Christian Service University College, Ghana. Boaheng holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Trinity Theological Seminary, Accra, Ghana. He has recently completed a PhD program (awaiting graduation) at the University of the Free State, South Africa, where he also serves as a Research Fellow. Boaheng has over fifty publications in translation studies, systematic theology, biblical studies, Methodist studies, and African Christianity. He is married to Gloria and they have been blessed with Christian, Benedict, Julia and Kalix.

Chapter One
Inspiration, Canonization and Transmission of the Old Testament    1
Chapter Two
Geographical Background     25
Chapter Three
Historico-Political Background      54
Chapter Four
Social Background      69
Chapter Five
Economic Background    86
Chapter Six
Religious Background      99
Chapter Seven
Intertestamental Background     112
Bibliography 135
Index 139

Boaheng, I. An African Background to the Old Testament. (Accra: Noyam Publishers, 2021).