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Title: Wilfred Cantwell Smith's theory of scripture related to the use of the Bible in African Anglicanism
Author: James, Robert William
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis uses the theories of Wilfred Cantwell Smith about religion in general and scripture in particular. It attempts to link them more closely than Smith himself did. Building on Smith, the thesis argues that the designation of a text as scripture influences the way religious followers approach it. They bring their deepest convictions and pressing concerns to it as presuppositions, but also use the text as a window onto the transcendent, a means of grappling with ultimate reality, leading to a use of the scripture (a concept larger than the words on the page) in ordering the world as they think it should be. The thesis applies these insights to the Anglican Communion. It considers the approach to the Bible taken by formative Anglican thinkers, and declarations about the Bible from the Lambeth Conferences. It then considers the approach to the Bible in Africa, on the part of both academic theologians (many of whom are Anglicans) and of African Anglican church leaders. It focuses on Anglican biblical approaches to the issue of homosexuality, currently splitting the Communion. Both parties to this debate claim to base their position on the Bible. However, in Smith's terms, each position relies less on interpreting a text than on bringing deep convictions to scripture and working on it to establish what is thought to be the will of God and thus to order the world as it should be. The thesis argues that Smith's insights shed considerable light on the underlying dynamics of this debate, and that recognition of these dynamics would make the debate far more tractable and fruitful.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral