Christianity in Africa is deeply shaped by the Bible. In many cases the Bible was the first book translated into local languages and one of the few printed books available to pastors, evangelists and catechists. The reading and interpretation of the Scriptures in local communities has been one of the major factors in the development of local theologies. These local readings were not only meant as applications of the message of the Scriptures to new situations. The readers often believed that they (re-)discovered aspects of the Scriptural message that had gone unperceived when these texts were read in different cultural contexts, academic settings, or social situations removed from the questions at the grassroots. Readers believed that they heard the voice of the Spirit in a new way in their contexts. Their interpretations should not only be studied as examples of local readings, but also in relation to their claim to provide new insights into the Scriptures that have meaning for the church worldwide and for academic exegesis. In sub-Saharan Africa, academic exegesis and grassroots readings of the Scriptures have not been separated in the same way as has been the case in the modern Western university and this may well be one of its enduring contributions to the church worldwide.
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