Theology hosts international multidisciplinary congress on land

Posted on October 05, 2016

The Faculty of Theology, in partnership with the faculties of Law and Humanities, promoted multidisciplinary conversation on a number of aspects concerning land when it hosted a conference, themed ‘Land: Texts, Narratives and Practices’, on 31 August and 1 September 2016.

Conflicts over land ownership, its use and preservation exist in many countries. However, in South Africa the land issue has special features, as land has been taken away from millions of South Africans over the course of history. More than providing all South Africans with land on a fair basis, it is crucial to heal the wounds inflicted in the past.

This interfaculty, inter- and transdisciplinary conference on a relevant social and academic theme attracted a number of national and international Old Testament scholars, who engaged with and interpreted land in biblical texts. Prof Wim Beuken (Leuven, Belgium) delivered a paper entitled “What can be learned about ‘the land’ from provocative language (Hos 1:2)? The book of Hosea in head-on collision with the book of Ezekiel”, while Prof Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher (Linz, Austria) spoke of “The king and the land: the role of King Solomon in spatial constructions of the land (especially Ps 72).

Prof Maria Häusl (Dresden, Germany) contributed to the debate with a paper on “The Land and its Inhabitants in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah”, and Prof Christian Frevel (Bochum, Germany) discussed “The Detour of Edom and the Concept of Land in the Book of Numbers”. Prof Ulrich Berges (Bonn, Germany) delivered a paper entitled “Instead of shame a double portion of land (Isaiah 61:7). A social program in the Book of Isaiah”, while Dr Federick Ikyaan (Nigeria) focuses on “Invading the Invader: Ethical Reflections on the Fulani invasion of Tiv land and its impact on Land use in Tiv”. Prof Nancy L. Declaisse-Walford (James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, USA) deliberated the importance of place in Book V of the Psalter.

Representing UP, Prof Dirk Human’s paper gave perspectives on land from the Book of Psalms, and Dr Johanna Erzberger ventured into the topic of ““Promised Land – Purchased Land (Jer 32)”. Dr Tanya van Wyk explored the political theological landscape with the help of Denise Ackermann, Jürgen Habermas and Jürgen Moltmann, while Dr Irma du Plessis focused on the making and shaping of the Jan Hofmeyr council housing scheme for ‘poor whites’ in Johannesburg. Prof Alphonso Groenewald concluded with “The trauma of the Isaianic landscapes of chaos (Isaiah 1-12)”.

The conference was the initiative of the departments of Old Testament Studies (Theology) and Jurisprudence (Law). This was the second of three conferences on the theme of ‘land’ in 2016. The conference coincided with the conferral of an honorary doctoral degree in Theology on the world-renowned scholar, Prof Wim Beuken of the University of Lovain, Belgium.

- Author Petronel Fourie
Published by Petronel Fourie

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