by Beth Langstaff
Here is Tübingen, the winter semester is almost at an end. In the New Testament Colloquium, we have had a very good series of speakers and papers. In December, Prof James Aitken from the University of Cambridge, on a return visit to Tübingen and to the Colloquium, read a paper on "Rewriting Homer in the Greek version of Sirach". Among other topics, the discussion took up the intriguing question: to what extent does a translator also function as an author? The book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, is part of the Apocrypha; in content, it is similar to the book of Proverbs, and it was known and used in early Christian circles.
In the Theological English class, we have been reading texts by theologians from the Global South, from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Some years ago, renowned Kenyan theologian and Anglican priest, John Mbiti, issued a challenge to Christians in the West: “Theologians from the new (or younger) churches have made their pilgrimages to the theological learning of the older churches. We had no alternative. We have eaten theology with you; we have drunk theology with you; we have dreamed theology with you. But it has all been one-sided; it has all been, in a sense, your theology...We know you theologically. The question is, do you know us theologically? Would you like to know us theologically?” It has been exciting and often uncomfortable, even convicting, to read theological texts written by Christian men and women in different parts of the world: in South Korea, Peru, Ghana, Brazil, China, Nigeria, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea. This week, we are reading the "Kairos Document", a theological critique of the apartheid system in South Africa, written in the midst of crisis in 1985.