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Academic Programmes » MTh in African Christianity (Postgraduate Research Degree)

Rationale of the programme

The growth and expansion of the Christian faith on the African Continent in the present century is one of the most remarkable events in the entire history of Christianity. Writing in an article published in 1970, the well-known editor of the World Christian Encyclopaedia (Nairobi: OUP, 1980), David Barett, stated that it was Africa that 'might well tip the scale and transform Christianity, permanently, into a non- Western religion' (Barrett, 'AD 2000 - 350 million Christians in Africa',  International Review of Mission, Vol. LIX, No. 233 (January, 1970), p. 40.

In 1983, the renowned African Christian historian of World Christianity, Prof. Lamin Sanneh of Yale Divinity School, suggested that 'African Christianity may well have entered upon a universal vocation not dissimilar to that of Gentile Christianity in the early Christian centuries'. (Lamin Sanneh, West African Christianity - The Religious Impact (London: C. Hurst, 1983).

Andrew Walls drew out the fullest implications of Barrett's observation by suggesting that "what happens within the African Churches in the next generation will determine the whole shape of church history for centuries to come. What sort of theology is most characteristic of the Christianity of the twenty-first century may well depend on what has happened in the minds of African Christians in the interim." ('Towards an understanding of Africa's place in Christian history' in J. S. Pobee (ed), Religion in a pluralistic society, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976, pp. 180-189.)

This global transformation of the Christian faith poses tremendous challenges for African Christianity. It means that African Christians and African Christian institutions are called upon not only to shoulder a significant portion of the burden of Christian witness in the world, but also to undergird such witness with the appropriate Christian scholarship in the interest of the Church's universal task in our time. The MTh in African Christianity is an African attempt at meeting this need for an African Christian scholarship that will be equal to the task.

The curriculum for the Postgraduate Research Degrees (MTh in African Christianity, MTh in Bible Translation and Interpretation and PhD in Theology) has as its focus the study of the forms and traditions of African Christian life and thought that have emerged as a distinctive strand of Non-Western Christianity with the potential of contributing to world Christianity.

Objectives

1. To provide opportunity for understanding the significance of African Christianity.
2. To enable graduates from African countries undertake an advanced study of Christianity directly related to their own setting.
3. To provide opportunity for graduate Christian workers, lay or ordained, committed to ministry in cross-cultural situations, to examine the historical, religious and cultural context in which they operate and to reflect theologically on their experience.
4. To help prospective candidates of theological research involving cross-cultural or inter-religious study who do not have specialized training in these fields, to bridge the gap between previous academic study and the new material.
5. To provide cultural relevance in exegesis and interpretation.

Requirements

All candidates must possess a good honours degree in Theology or in Religious Studies from a recognized University to be considered for admission to the MTh. For those without a first degree in Theology, the MA in Theology and Mission qualifies them for consideration to be admitted to the MTh.

Structure of programmes

All students take a total of six taught courses in the first year: two core and one elective each semester from the following:

First Semester
Core:
PRDC 01 The roots of African Theology in the 20th century
PRDC 02 Christian faith and primal religions of the world, with special reference to Africa -  historical, phenomenological and theological perspectives
Electives:
PRDC 05  The Bible in African Christianity - aspects of African Biblical Hermeneutics
PRDC 06 Early African Christianity of the first six centuries
PRDC 07 Christian faith and Islam and Christian-Muslim relations in Africa
PRDC11 Theology, Human Need and the Environment

Second Semester
Core:
PRDC 03 World Christian history as mission history
PRDC 04 Gospel and culture - biblical, historical and theological perspectives

Electives:
PRDC 08 Modern African Instituted Churches
PRDC 09 Aspects of the Christian history of Africa
PRDC 10  Patterns of Christian Ministry in Africa

Research Methods (PRDS01)
All MTh students are to participate in a series of lectures on Research Methods in both semesters as part of their course work. This course is not examinable but it is compulsory for all students to attend.

Integrating presentation

An additional assessment of taught course participation will be an integrating presentation made by each student before the Academic Board. A topic designed to assess the student's capacity to integrate elements of different courses in the programme throughout the year will be assigned to each student 24 hours before the presentation.  Students will be expected to read a prepared script and to answer questions from the Board.  The mark awarded for the presentation will count towards the final grade at the end of the programme.

Dissertation

In the second year, MTh students write a dissertation of 30,000 words. A special requirement is that, apart from the regular abstract in English, students also submit a one-page abstract of their dissertation in their mother tongue.