Original Research

How should we then live? A missiological reading of Genesis 34: A redemptive historical approach

Barend Wielenga
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2983 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2983 | © 2023 Barend Wielenga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2023 | Published: 15 September 2023

About the author(s)

Barend Wielenga, Unit for Reformed Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

The narrative of Dinah’s rape in Genesis 34 has attracted the attention of Jews and Christians throughout the ages and has been the source of many scholarly papers all around the world. What have the readers in the different communities of faith over the ages heard in this shameful story? This article wanted to convey what this researcher has heard. An attempt has been made to read Genesis 34 in a missiological way in the redemptive historical context of Genesis 12–36. This article wants to demonstrate that the communicative intention of the author of Genesis 34 was to teach his readers how they, as descendants of Abraham, should live in the promised land in order to accomplish the task God had charged them with: To be a blessing to the nations (Gn 12:3). Hence, in Genesis 34, the author reminded his readers how their ancestors failed in this divine mandate and that they should not be followed: Dinah’s brothers murdered the rapist of their sister and turned it into a curse to the nation of the Hivites. Their negative behaviour should open the eyes for what God positively wanted from his people throughout the ages. This reading formed the basis for a missiological understanding of the significance of this narrative in the Christian community of faith. The missiological significance of Genesis 34 has been discussed from three angles: The importance of worship for missions; the integrity of the missionary praxis; and the in-between time in which missions take place.

Contribution: This research wants to answer the question why the author of Genesis 34 included in his composition this shameful episode in the patriarchal history narrating the rape of Leah’s daughter, Dinah, and the consequent criminal honour killings by her brothers. The purpose of this investigation is to show the missiological significance of this narrative for the present Christian community of faith for whom the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.


Keywords

redemptive history; communicative intention of Genesis 34; peaceful co-existence with the Canaanites; abuse of circumcision; Dinah’s rape; the murder of the Shechemites; worship and missions.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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