legal hermeneutics

Thomas G. Kirsch 2009. Constitutionally Divine: Legal Hermeneutics in African Pente-costal Christianity. In: Permutations of Order: Religion and Law as Contested Sovereign-ties, edited by Kirsch, Thomas G. & Bertram Turner. London: Routledge.

“One day during my research in rural Zambia, a clergyman of a small Pentecostal-charismatic church invited me to his homestead so that we could talk about the laws of his church. After exchanging some gossip, he solemnly placed the constitution of his church on the tabletop. I was curious. This was the first time I was to see the church constitution of which I had heard so much during the previous months. In front of me lay a yellowed, crinkled and creased copy of a typewritten document whose pages had been loosely fastened with a metal clip. Going through it, I first realized with surprise that its pages were not following the conventional or-der; when reading a clause which ran over two pages, one had to leaf back and forth in order to find the page with the second part. Then I discovered that there were two different church names mentioned in the constitution – each of them being employed as if it were the actual name of the church. My bewilderment must have been obvious. After a while, the clergyman, himself a prophet, gently touched my arm and removed the constitution from my hands. He said: ‘Don’t worry. You cannot understand. You do not have the Holy Spirit’.”