Sun | Jun 4, 2023

Contextualising history

Published:Tuesday | April 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

Two very inspiring history lessons were published last Thursday. The first was from Devon Dick entitled 'Woman time now'. He addressed our varied denominational cultures in Christianity that have not been able "to determine whether what we read in the Old Testament was meant to be descriptive or prescriptive".

I concur with this and add that in all the cases that I have dealt with, the prescriptive Bible has stood in the way of biblical historicity. In such situations, biblical history and culture is, and will continue to be, immaterial to many Christian adherents, the gnat that remains difficult for many to swallow. In fact, I find acceptance of the historical approach to theology very difficult among fundamentalists.

Notwithstanding the problems the Church has on this issue, I welcome this connotative call to rethink how we approach biblical history and culture in our theologies, for we must contextualise some difficult sections of scripture for them to make sense.

The second article is 'Bacchanal is not carnival' by Keith Noel. I spent almost six years in Trinidad and never knew the facts and origins of carnival, kaiso/calypso and the rest of that bit of history. Indeed, history is enlightening, and even more so if told by somebody who knows.

Appeal to history

Both writers appeal to history as essential for a changed perspective. I advance their thinking to suggest that history is essential in planning the correct forward movement of our people. In the first lesson, we note that history should determine how we do theology. In the second, history will inform our culture. In both situations history becomes a vehicle for reformation, a tool that must aid how we, as a social collective, overcome the quagmire in which we find ourselves.

The first lesson appeals to those who are inclined to learn via the pulpit. The second emphasises the value of knowledge. But both sets of truths, in a philosophical way, speak to our application of know-ledge. Only when we apply knowledge properly will we be counted as wise, and history will be our judge.

Finally, the lessons from both sets of truths transcend everything affecting Jamaica today - industry, economics, politics, education, culture, crime control, theology, everything. Knowledge of our history will allow us to contextualise our present and chart the correct future. We ignore this truism at our own peril.

I am, etc.,