Old Testament Studies convenes international specialists at seminar

Posted on September 06, 2018

The Department of Old Testament Studies in UP’s Faculty of Theology and Religion hosted the ProPsalms and ProProphets Seminar 2018 on 30 and 31 August. This seminar aims to convene international Old Testament specialists. European and Western-oriented theological paradigms, as well as African voices and paradigms, are given a platform.

The Faculty initiated a project to internationalise and contextualise the study of the Psalms by means of a seminar in 2003. In view of various international cooperation relationships between the University of Pretoria and other international theological institutions, this project was seen as a means to contribute to the local and international theological debate. Another aim of the seminar is to develop the debate into discussions between Old Testament and various other disciplines of theology and religion.


The ProPsalms Seminars grew in stature and number during the past few years, with a stronger international and national presence every year. Students were also allowed to attend as silent participants.

Prof Itumuleng Mosala, a research associate at UP, delivered a paper about the land question. Prof Mosala is one of South Africa’s foremost academic intellectuals and a principal advisor on matters relating to government, politics and business. His paper revisited Leviticus 25: 8-55 and opened it up as a possible source of a critical hermeneutics of freedom for the land repossession discourse in South Africa and elsewhere today.


He noted that the Leviticus 25 text has a revolutionary ring to it. “The public and parliamentary hearings of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government also sound revolutionary and certainly scare elites and privileged classes far and near – if the sound of Donald Trump’s pants is something to go by. Yet, like in the ancient Biblical times, the policies of our ruling elites and each generation of aspiring elites are motivated to promulgate their own version of debt (land) easement, because each generation of peasants and urban underclasses is forced into poverty and debt by the structures of society. Only the fundamental transformation of those societal structures can address the root problem.”

He concluded that the modus operandi of the fundamental problem is present in the text by its absence: It is simple but swamped by the voices of the elite spokespersons. It is about the return of the land, and the economics of it is there also, as it is in African traditional economics based on the principles of Mafisa and Matimela practices.

- Author Petronel Fourie
Published by Petronel Fourie

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