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The Human Condition - Christian Perspectives through African Eyes

Author: Joe M Kapolyo
Published By: IVP (Leicester)
Pages: 175
Price: £5.99
ISBN: 1 84474 064 1

Reviewed by Barry Goodwin.

Jo Kapolyo’s book is published as part of The Global Christian Library, in association with Langham Partnership International. It is a timely publication for those who minister in places with a significant African population. As an African Christian and lecturer in theological colleges here and in Zambia, Kapolyo brings a fresh perspective to how we read the biblical texts concerned with human identity.

The book begins with a summary of the various concepts of humankind, including a particularly useful overview of human nature (ubunto) from an African viewpoint. This is followed by two sections on the biblical texts concerned with ‘the human condition’ and ‘the descent of man’, which provide a good overview of the texts and their interpretations, albeit from a quite conservative stance. The book comes alive and is most valuable when Kapolyo brings his African perspective to these texts. Particularly enlightening is his own African view of human nature in the penultimate section. The final section draws the argument together when he considers the human condition in the light of the gospel and provides insights how culture and cultural identity shape our reading of the texts and our understanding of the Gospel.

This book is a good introduction or refresher for anyone who ministers in areas where the church relates to Africans, whether in or outside the church. It whets the appetite for anyone who wants to look further at emerging African theological perspectives which will certainly need to be considered as the church relates to global, national and local social issues. To quote an African proverb from the book, “umuntu ekala na buntu: uwikala ne nama, akaliwa” (a human being lives with people or in the company of other people: he who lives with animals will be eaten).

Barry Goodwin

Social Responsibility (Parish Development) Adviser, Diocese of Southwark

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You are reading Issue 36 of Ministry Today, published in March 2006.

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