Woman is a Parable

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study is a contribution to the New Testament hermeneutics. It is a reinterpretation of the Parable of the "Ten Maidens" from an African Womanist Perspective consonant with an Epideictic Rhetoric approach. Through this perspective the social position of women in parables based on an androcentric world is explored. However, this position is challenged by a womanist perspective. Because it is challenged, the process of conscientization has begun and the struggle for the lack of self-worth follows. With African womanist epideictic perspective the intended effect is to respond to the needs of particular individuals or communities, and to persuade the readers to bring about a change of attitude and behaviour in their situation. This thesis opens with an exploration of the socio-historical experience of women revealed in literature of the first century Greco-Roman world; the Jewish world as well as ancient African world. A search in the literature betrays that women's experiences from different societies are generally based on a patriarchal ideology - that of women's supposed position in society. Women's view of the world was therefore along these patriarchal standards. An African womanist epideictic approach, therefore is employed as a liberative tool in dealing with this problem. The second chapter presents women's portrayal in parables, especially those found in African literature and in the synoptic gospels. Luke, in particular, deals with women in parables very positively bringing up the whole question of relationality, that is, practising good relations with one another. This is explored further in the concluding section. In African parables there are two sets of women behaviour. Firstly, there are those who are very much inclined with the socialization of the obedience and loyalty to males in an African cultural tradition. Secondly, there are also those who try to pull out of the patriarchal normative instructions. The behaviour of these two sets is similar to the behaviour of women found in Matthean parables. These behavioural tendencies become so significant for an African womanist that the "Parable of the Ten Maidens" in Matthew is further explored in chapter three. The concluding chapter includes an overview of the thesis and a discussion of the ethical considerations raised when one reads the parables, especially of the "Ten Maidens" from an African womanist epideictic perspective.

Includes bibliography.