More Information
ISBN: 9781783687169
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 22
Publication Date: 31/08/2019
Pages: 430
Language: English

Jesus Christ as Ancestor

A Theological Study of Major African Ancestor Christologies in Conversation with the Patristic Christologies of Tertullian and Athanasius


In this critical study, Dr Turbi Luka uses historical-theological methodology to engage in detail with Christologies of key African theologians and conventional theological sources for Christology, including the church fathers Tertullian and Athanasius as well as modern theologians. Turbi argues that existing African Christologies, specifically ancestor Christologies, are inadequate in expressing the person of Christ as Messiah and saviour, the fulfilment of Old Testament prophesies. Providing a new approach, Turbi proposes an African Linguistic Affinity Christology that explicitly portrays Jesus as Christ in a contextually relevant way for Africans in everyday life. This crucial study highlights the need for biblically rooted Christology and for sound theological understanding and naming of Jesus at every level. This book also warns the church in Africa, and elsewhere, to avoid repeating the dangerous christological heresies of the ancient church by remaining faithful to a biblical interpretation and orthodox theology of Christ.

Author Bios


Jesus Christ as Ancestor provides an engaging analysis of different genres of ancestor Christology in African theological discourse. Readers will find fresh insights into the phenomenon of ancestral mediation in African thought and also the varying ways some Christian theologians have appropriated it for their Christian contexts. Though it is tailored for African evangelical communities, Jesus Christ as Ancestor will appeal to theologians interested in African Christian theology.

Victor I. Ezigbo, PhD
Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies,
Bethel University, St Paul, Minnesota, USA

The book is well written, and clearly articulates the issues in contention with deep insight. As a valuable resource for teachers and students of theology, the book provides a useful background to ongoing christological discussion by providing the conversation on the subject in the early church and modern African theological input.

Rev Musa Gaiya, PhD
Professor of Church History,
University of Jos, Nigeria

Dr Reuben Turbi employed a theological method which enabled him to do a historical, biblical and systematic study of all the major players in the ancestor theology discourse. Engaging and critiquing major and primary scholars in a field of study is always very fundamental in serious scholarly discussion. Though a very broad and wide subject, the author subjected all the major proponents of the ancestor Christology models to a historical, biblical, theological, evangelical and well-grounded theological summation. This important section alone sets up and prepares the ground for articulating his important contribution to the field of study.

The major contribution of this highly exciting book is an “African Linguistic Affinity Christology that uses the Greek Yesus to formulate Yesu / Jesu Christology in Africa.” Yesu or Jesu as used in many African languages captures the real essence and meaning of Jesus Christ and is to be preferred to the ancestral Christology. This proposal as Dr Turbi has vigorously and persuasively done will find acceptance not only among grassroots believers, but will provide food for thought in theological and academic discussions. In my mind, Dr Turbi has contributed immensely in providing yet another addition to the search for a contextualized theology that sticks very close to the inspired Scriptures. Congratulations!

Rev Samuel Waje Kunhiyop, PhD
Head, Postgraduate School,
South African Theological Seminary, Bryanston, South Africa
Author, African Christian Ethics and African Christian Theology

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

  1. 1. Introduction
    • Background to the Study
    • Statement of the Research Problem
    • Purpose and Contribution of the Study
    • Research Methodology
    • Summary
  2. 2. Jesus as an Ancestor: A Paradigm Shift in African Christology and Theological Method
    • Introduction
    • Colonial and Missionary Invasion of Africa between the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Setting the Stage for the Emergence of Ancestor Christology
    • African Theology and the Cult of the Ancestors: The Problem of Definition, Terminology, Language and Historical Trends
    • Major African Schools of Thought on Christ’s Ancestorship
      • I. Abbé Marc Ntetem – Christ the Ancestor par Excellence
      • II. Bénézet Bujo – Christ the Proto-Ancestor
      • III. Charles Nyamiti – Christ the Brother and Greatest Ancestor
    • The Problem with the Ancestorship Emblem
    • Summary
  3. 3. Historical and Theological Foundations of Christology: Conversing with the Christologies of Tertullian and Athanasius
    • Introduction
    • Jesus in the Life and Thought of the First-Century Church
    • Apostolic Proclamation of Christ
    • The Issues Inherent in the Apostolic Christology: African Apologists Defending Apostolic Christology
      • I. Tertullian of Carthage: The Ray of God Foretold in Ancient Times in His Birth Became God and Man United
      • II. Athanasius of Alexandria: The Word Prepares a Body in the Virgin as a Temple unto Himself
      • III. Greek Metaphysics and the African Ancestor Realm
      • IV. Biblical and Theological Models of Christ in the Thoughts of Tertullian and Athanasius and the Contemporary African
      • Projection of Christ as an Ancestor: An Apologia
    • Summary
  4. 4. African Ancestor Christological Interpretation and Formulation as Rooted in African Worldview and Traditional Belief: Connecting Christ to Africa’s Pre-Christian Category
    • Introduction
    • Man in African Cosmology
    • Death in African Cosmology: The Journey to Ghi Dhen Derrhe (The Hereafter)
    • The Perceived Role of an Ancestor
    • Factors for Change: From African Ancestors to Christ as Ancestor
    • Connecting the Communion of the Dead Saints in Christian Tradition with Africa’s Ancestral Cult
    • Summary
  5. 5. Theological Sources of African Ancestor Christologies: Exploring Inculturation and Contextualization as Theological Models
    • Introduction
    • Church and Missions in Global Christianity: The Quest for Contextual Theology
    • Motivation from Pre-Vatican II Ecclesial Declarations
      • I. Pius XII – Evangelii Praecones (1951) and Musicae Sacrae Disciplina (1955)
      • II. John XXIII – Allocution to African Writers and Artists (1959)
    • Vatican II and Its Aftermath: A Turning Point in Global Christian Movement – Toward Inculturating Christianity in the Various Cultures of the World
      • I. Paul VI – Africae Terrarium (1967), SECAM, Kampala (1969) and Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975)
      • II. John Paul II – The Gospel and African Culture, Inculturating and Africanizing Evangelization (1980), and Inculturating Christianity in Africa (1982)
      • III. Francis Arinze and M. I. Fitzgerald – Pastoral Attention to African Traditional Religion (1988)
    • Contextualization and Inculturation as Contextual Theological Methods
    • The Theological Framework of Vatican II, Church Magisterium and Inculturation and African Ancestor Christology
      • I. Aggiornamento
      • II. Instrumentum Laboris
      • III. Code of Canon Law
    • African Symbols and Christian Beliefs: Towards Comparing African Pre-Christian Model of Ancestor and Christian Model of Christ
    • Inculturating Christian Faith through the Ancestor Model: Church Magisterium and Vatican II and the Theological Implications of Inculturating Christian Model through the Ancestor Model
    • Summary
  6. 6. Theological and Biblical Interpretations of African Ancestor Christologies: Exploring African Linguistic Affinity Christology
    • Introduction
    • Presuppositions of the Ancestorship of Christ
    • The Significance of Ancestors in African Cosmology
    • Ancestors as the Channel of Interacting with the Supreme Being
      • I. African Traditional Notions about the Potency of Divinities and Spirit Beings
      • II. Ancestor as Powerful Intercessors
      • III. Ancestors as a Way of Understanding the Acts and Powers of Jesus Christ
    • The Cult of the Ancestors as a Theological Meeting Point for Christianity and African Indigenous Religions
      • I. The Cult of Ancestors as the Heart of African Primal Tradition and Culture
      • II. Incarnation as Impetus to Ancestor Christology
    • Ancestors in the Jewish Worldview: An Overview of the Adamic Covenant of Redemption and the Abrahamic Covenant of Promise
      • I. Adam: The Crown of God’s Creation and the Mysterious Figure in the Garden
      • II. The Origin of Ancestors in Jewish Religious Context
    • The Relationship between the Role of Jewish Ancestors and the Role of African Ancestors
      • I. Jewish Ancestorship and African Linguistic Affinity Christology
      • II. African Ancestorship Is Rooted in General Revelation
      • III. Both Jewish and African Ancestors Anticipated the Fulfillment of the Adamic Redemptive Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant of Promise
    • Summary
  7. 7. Towards Yesu/Jesu Christology: Conversing with Ancestor Christology and Some Christological Models in the New Testament
    • Introduction
    • Background and Theological Significance of New Testament Christological Models
      • I. Christ the Promised Messiah
      • II. Christ the Mediator
      • III. Christ the High Priest
    • Relationship between African Pre-Christian Models and New Testament Christological Models: Biblical Mediation and African Primal Traditions
    • God and the African Ancestors: The Theological Significance of the Being and Otherness of God
      • I. God Is Transcendent
      • II. God Is Immanent
      • III. God, the First and Second Commandments and Ancestor Worship
      • God and Theological Language – Anthropomorphism
    • African Ancestors and Biblical Eschatology: Christ and Time and the State of the Dead
    • Exploring The Theological Implications of Ancestor Christology in the Light of Contemporary Voices on the Identity of Jesus Christ
    • Summary
  8. 8. General Summary and Conclusion
  9. Summary of the Study
  10. Pertinent Observations Derived from the Study
  11. Recommendations for Further Research
Index of Names
Index of Subjects

Related Books

Related by Classification