Telling women to be like men? Some theoretical aspects regarding the interpretation of the Bible on gender issues


Afrikaner Civil Religion
Ethics Of Reading
Gereformeerde Kerke In South Africa
Position Of Women


The RCSA is in desperate need of a new way of approaching the Bible. The hermeneutical principles that gave birth to a theological legitimation of apartheid are still active in the theological legitimation of a patriarchal order in the RCSA (Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika). It is as if the RCSA suffers from a theological schizophrenia which bars a critical approach from taking root. The article explores some hermeneutical impediments within the RCSA, illustrated by the 2000 Synod and a declaration published for the advent of Reformation Day in October 2000. Those impediments can be traced back to a seminal article of the 1980s, written by J.C. Coetzee, B.J. de Klerk and L. Floor (“Die hermeneuse van die Skrif met die oog op hedendaagse kerklik-etiese vraagstukke”), and to the influence of Afrikaner civil religion in the reading of the Bible. In the light of these three aspects, the article surveys the problem of imitating the text in terms of its values or characters, since the discussion of the role of women in the church is based on what is said about women in the Bible as a male text. The article concludes with a tentative proposal for an ethics of reading, with regard to the theoretical aspects when discussing gender issues in the Bible.