Reading the Bible in post-apartheid South Africa


Naïve realism
historical criticism
narrative criticism
reader-response criticism
hermeneutic of vulnerability
ethics of Bible reading
Christian religion

How to Cite

Spangenberg, I. J. (2023). Reading the Bible in post-apartheid South Africa: The contribution of Gerrie Snyman. Old Testament Essays, 36(1), 14–40. Retrieved from


Modern historical criticism came to South Africa in the third decade of the twentieth century. However, analysing biblical books like human documents was not acceptable to church authorities. The historical-critical study of the Bible thus suffered a blow. It took four decades before some reformed biblical scholars felt at ease to reintroduce historical criticism. However, during the seventh decade of the twentieth century, overseas biblical scholars were already experimenting with the research tools of modern literary studies. Some South African biblical scholars followed suit, and soon narrative criticism and reader-response criticism were part of the package of methods for reading and studying the Bible. Gerrie Snyman was one of them, and reader-response criticism assisted him in reflecting on how he as a white Afrikaans speaking male, can continue doing biblical research in the post-apartheid era. He developed a hermeneutic of vulnerability and argued that readers should take responsibility for their readings of biblical texts.



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