structural sin. As the Third World document The Road to Damascus argues/0 following Jesus requires structural repentance and conversion.
The commandments in verse 19 also took on a new meaning in the light of this reading. The man thought that he had kept the commandments, but he was thinking only on an individual level. While he himself might not have murdered anyone, or committed adultery, or stolen, or given false testimony, or defrauded, or dishonoured his parents, he was a part of and perpetuated a system that did all of these things. The ordinary readers in the workshops, most of whom were black, gave countless examples of how the apartheid system had resulted in murder, adultery, theft, legal injustice, unjust wages, and the destruction of black family life. For example, an inadequate health system for black people, impoverished 'homelands' and townships, and biased and brutal security forces murdered black people every day. The migrant labour system, pass laws, the group areas act, and single-sex hostels all generated adultery and destroyed family life. Forced removals, no minimum wage, and education for inferiority were forms of theft and fraud. The discriminatory legal system and the state-controlled media constantly disseminated false and biased testimony.
The challenge of Mark 10.17-22 was clear to us. The man, and those who are like him today, must repent and make restitution before they/we could be reconciled to God. This text (and Jesus) seemed to say that there could be no reconciliation with God, and no membership in the community of Jesus, without repentance and restitution. So while we must be constantly alert to wealth as an idolatrous danger, we must also be constantly critical of our social location in sinful structures and systems,
A further example might also be useful, particularly as it demonstrates the growing awareness in our work that critical resources are already present in poor and marginalised communities. The Institute for the Study of the Bible (ISB) was invited by a women's group in Umtata, a rural town in South Africa, to facilitate a workshop on 'liberating ways of reading the Bible as women'. The group consists of a majority of black women, most of whom are from Umtata, with a few from rural areas, and a few white women from Umtata.
Although the theme of the workshop was determined by the Umtata women's group, as well as the programme, the ISB was asked to suggest some texts for Bible study- Mark 5,21-6.1 was one of the texts used. The text was chosen because two of the main characters are women. Besides this, there was no clear sense of where the Bible study group might go with the text. No exegesis was done in preparation, and only three questions were used to facilitate the Bible study process.
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