reading Transforming Mission

February 25, 2009

Arthur asked whether I’d create a space where Transforming Mission, te well-known book by David Bosch, can be discussed, and starting in a few weeks, this will happen. The group will be joined by myself, and maybe one or two other young pastors from our denomination, some friends from TGIF, some friends from Nieucomminuties, and Annemie Bosch, the wife of David Bosch.

Hopefully we’ll start in the week of 9-13 March, although we still need to find a day that would fit everyone, and then get together every second or third week. I’ll be blogging on this as the discussion go on, and invite all who cannot physically join us, to join us in blogging about Transforming Mission. I’ll blog about some updates on what we’ll be reading, and sometimes some info that might be important when reading as well. So here is the first mail I sent out last night:

OK, so now that everyone is back in SA, it might be time to get digging into Transforming Mission.

I suggest we get together during the day, morning or afternoon, rather than evenings. Let me suggest Wednesday mornings, starting on March 11. Let me know if this won’t work for you. I’m happy with doing a weekly thing if everybody is up for it, but maybe getting together every second or third week might be better for those who are already highly committed at other places (which is everyone).

Lesslie Newbigin described Transforming Mission as a Summa Missiologica.

“It has been said that “any missiology can only be done as a footnote to the work of David Bosch” (Bevans & Schroeder 2005:69), making it analogous to the words of Albert the Great which were spoken at the funeral of Thomas Aquinas, that theology after Aquinas will be only a footnote to his work After the death of Bosch, König (1993) described him as probably the greatest theologian ever to come out of South Africa, particularly where scientific theology is concerned.”

I believe that at least three academic fields/qualities come together within Transforming Mission. Bosch as historian, Biblical scholar, and missiologist. It was the combination of these three (at least) that made the writing of this work possible.

For the first discussion, read the Introduction and Chapter 1. The significance of starting in this way shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s not neccesarily obvious. Looking at Jesus and the early church before describing three different “missiologies” from within the New Testament open some windows into the approach Bosch used at other times as well. Of special significance in understanding Bosch (although you might well differ from me in my highlighting of this one aspect above the rest) might be the long quote from Schweizer on page 47. His own words after this quote was: “In all our discussions about Jesus’ mission we should keep this perspective in mind”. Read the chapter, let’s discuss the significance of this.

To attempt and get a grip on the work, I’d suggest you take a look at the three short chapters: Five, Eleven and Thirteen.

The subtitle of the book “Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission”, might have more than one meaning, but one of them would be the fact that Bosch works with paradigm theory, consider a paradigm shift to be under way, and attempts to point a way forward for mission within this emerging paradigm (used long before the emerging church got it’s name). Chapters 5 and 11 comes before and after the description of the different paradigms from the time of Jesus onwards. And would give a picture of underlies the writing of the book.

Proffesor Piet Meiring always talk about chapter 13 as “vintage Bosch”. The student of Bosch become almost frustrated at times, because you struggle to find the voice of Bosch within Transforming Mission. This summary of mission up to the end of the 80’s, foundation for the 90’s onwards, sometimes seem to hide the voice of the author. Chapter 13 provides the reader with a glimpse into Bosch’s vision of what this might mean, captured in only a few pages.

I pray that the reading of this would be much more than a mere intellectual exercise, but that it would be a spiritual journey of discovering the life with Christ which calls us to be part of the mission of God and the church within this world.

Some questions you might consider is to try and see the tensions and similarities between Transforming Mission and your own tradition and thoughts.
The implication for the church of what we are reading.
How this relate to our current context in South Africa.
And make notes where something seem unclear. This is not the easiest book you will ever read.

Looking forward to reading this with you.


So, if you want to blog on the Introduction and Chapter 1 within the next few weeks, that will be a great way of taking part in the conversation. If you do, let me know, and I’ll link to all the posts as we go along.


5 Responses to “reading Transforming Mission”

  1. Steve Says:

    Sounds interesting — are you going to use your Bosch wiki for this?

  2. Cobus Says:

    Doubt it, maybe rather do a type of synchroblog with those who attended and anyone else who want to blog about the given chapter(s) of the day. Might use the wiki to keep constant links to discussions on different chapters of the book.

  3. Steve Says:

    Pity. I think it might be a more interesting medium than a synchroblog for that kind of thing, a kind of bacterial culture of Bosch’s thought, that expands and expands…

  4. cobus Says:

    Well, I’ll suggest the thought, maybe there would be interest in this. It definitely is a medium we still need to discover.

  5. […] can find info on today’s reading here. I will be blogging in this later, and some others have indicated that they might blog this as […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: