Original Research - Special Collection: Festschrift

Anagnorisis (processing forgiveness): The mystical praxis-space of diaconal reaching out to the Other/others (the hopeful case of Joseph and his brothers)

Daniël J. Louw
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 2 | a2651 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i2.2651 | © 2021 Daniël J. Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 June 2020 | Published: 31 March 2021

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Daniël J. Louw, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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The following question is at stake: What entails forgiveness and reconciliation within processes of healing regarding schisms in a very diverse and polarised society? Despite the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission the burning question that still prevails: What is meant by a praxis of forgiveness and a spirituality of reconciliation within a post-apartheid dispensation? It is argued that forgiving and reconciling are not instant or merely ‘handsome pardoning’. Both are embedded in processes of reaching out to the pain and hurt of the other. As a process, forgiveness starts with self-acknowledgement and should manifest in modes of compassionate being-with and diaconal acts of reaching out, creating spaces of ‘mystical encounters’. In this regard, the notion of anagnorisis, as captured by narrating the encounter between Joseph and his brothers, should be read as an exemplification of reconciliation, directed by the missio Dei, promissio Dei and passio Dei. Within a Christian paradigm, Ernst Bloch’s notion of docta spes, very aptly captures the core of pastoral, reconciliatory care: Hope care to the human soul (nēphēsh) – the search for life and meaning. ‘Dum spiro – spero’ [While I Breathe, I Hope].

Contribution: It is often the case that reconciliation is viewed as an instant event. The case of Joseph and his brothers illustrates the fact that reconciliation is in fact a mode of life, embedded over many years. In this way, reconciliation could be rendered as part of one’s life story; as a mode of journeying through life, exemplifying the how of authentic human encounters. Reconciliation then becomes an ontic feature of relational integrity and indication of the quality of the human soul: Habitus as feeling from the hurt being of the other.


forgiveness; reconciliation; anagnorisis; self-acknowledgment; narrative of Joseph and his brothers; process God; reconciling and forgiving as process categories.


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