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Text and performance in an African church: The Book, "live and direct".

By Matthew Engelke

Abstract

In this article I examine textual authority and religious language in an African Christian church. Known as the Masowe weChishanu, members of this church refer to themselves as "the Christians who don't read the Bible." I focus on how religious language in Masowe ritual highlights the performative nature of religious authority. In particular, I show how prophets in the church denigrate the role of religious text by working to create a "live and direct" connection to God through their sermons. Drawing on the ethnography of reading and ritual, and contributing to the newly emerging interest in an anthropology of Christianity, I show how Masowe recast the authority of the text as a political and religious object by making it unnecessary. The Bible becomes significant in its absence, challenging an understanding of scriptural religion as objectified in texts

Topics: BR Christianity, GN Anthropology
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1525/ae.2004.31.1.76
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:15551
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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