Theology master’s student receives scholarship to further his research in Amsterdam

Posted on March 07, 2017


Mr Tshepiso Mashele, a master's student in Old Testament Studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria (UP), was awarded a prestigious scholarship to further his studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

This is the fourth year in a row that a UP student has been selected by VU for this programme. Prof Johan Buitendag, Dean of UP's Faculty of Theology, notes that the Faculty is highly regarded for the quality and diversity each crop of new students brings to the programme.

Every year, VU offers the Bridging Gaps programme, which gives students from its partner institutions in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe the opportunity to study at its Faculty of Theology for three months. The main focus of Bridging Gaps is to offer these students the opportunity to further their theological studies in the Netherlands.

Mr Mashele's research is focused on prophetic literature, combined with trauma theory. The title of his current research project is ‘Understanding Biblical texts that are injurious: Nahum 3 as a case study. A portrayal of God as sexual predator, from the perspective of trauma studies'.

Mr Mashele chose this topic because he has a passion for helping people understand the biblical texts. ‘It should be understood by people in the congregation that there is a huge gap between us and the biblical world; therefore, critical methods should be employed when reading the bible.'

This scholarship will enable him to work under the supervision of Prof Klaas Spronk, a specialist in this field who wrote a commentary on the book of Nahum. The scholarship covers travel and living expenses and provides for supervision by professors. The students are also exposed to Dutch ecclesiastical and social reality. Although academic work has priority during their stay in Amsterdam, all students also participate in church activities and – through lectures and preaching – share stories about their life back home.

Contextual theology is the basis of the Bridging Gaps project and the research of all students has to be relevant to their own context. According to the programme's organisers, this meeting of minds of theologians from diverse backgrounds has produced some fascinating discussions. They testify that the importance of looking beyond local boundaries and local theology has been shown time and again.

Since 1980, VU's Faculty of Theology of has maintained valuable contacts with many theological institutions throughout the southern hemisphere and Europe. What started as a dialogue with liberation theologians and an exchange of students has evolved into the Centre for Contextual Bible Reading. Bridging Gaps is one of the activities of this centre.

View the Bridging Gaps' brochure for more information.



- Author Petronel Fourie

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