Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies

Prof MJ Masenya

College of Human Sciences
School of Humanities
Department: Biblical and Ancient Studies
Tel: 012 429 4863


  • BA
  • BA (Hons)
  • HED
  • MA
  • DLitt et Phil

NRF Rating


Fields of academic interests

  • Biblical Studies/Old Testament Studies/Hebrew Bible
  • Old Testament Wisdom Literature (Book of Proverbs)
  • African Biblical Hermeneutics

Field of Specialisation

  • African Biblical Hermeneutics
  • The Bible and Gender
  • HIV and AIDS Conscious Biblical Hermeneutics


Book chapters:

  • 2017. 'Limping, yet made to climb a mountain!’  Re-reading the Vashti character in the HIV and AIDS South African Context in Y. Sherwood (ed.). The Bible and Feminism: Remapping the Field, 534-547. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2017. Stuck between the Waiting Room and the Reconfigured Levirate Entity? Reading Ruth in Marriage-Obsessed African Christian Contexts in L. J. Claassens, C. Sharp (eds). Feminist Frameworks and the Bible: Power, Ambiguity and Intersectionality, 163-176. London: Bloomsbury.
  • 2016. Masenya(ngwan’a Mphahlele), M. "Foreign" on Own Home Front? Ruminations from an African-South African Pentecostal Biblical Scholar” in V. Synana, A. Yong and J. K. Asamoah-Gyadu (eds.). Global Renewal Christianity: Spirit-Empowered Movements: Past, Present and Future.
  • 2014. Genesis 25-33: Leah and the Challenges of Women in Polygynous Partnership in M. Roncace and J. Weaver (eds.), Global Perspectives on the Bible, 41-44. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
  • 2014. An African-South African Woman’s Perspective on Job 3 in M. Roncace and J. Weaver (eds.), Global Perspectives on the Bible, 168-169. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
  • 2013. The Future Role of the Church in Development Cooperation in Ed (K. Mtata). Religion: Help or Hindrance to Development? 169-183, Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt.
  • 2013. Biblical studies in South(ern) Africa: An Overview, in IA Phiri and D. Werner (eds.), Handbook of Theological Education in Africa, 454-465, Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications.
  • 2013. Proverbs, Job and Qoheleth in Feminist Perspectives, in S. Scholtz (eds.), Feminist Perspectives. London: Phoenix Press.
  • 2013. The Role of the Bible for the Emancipation of Women in Africa in Adewoye (Ed).
  • 2012. Her Appropriation of Job’s Lament? Her-Lament of Job 3, from an African Story-Telling Perspective, in MW Dube, AM Mbuvi and D Mbuwayesango (eds.). Postcolonial Perspectives in African Biblical Interpretations, 283-297. Atlanta: SBL
  • 2011. The Woman of Worth in Proverbs 31:10-31. Rereading through a Bosadi
  • 2011. (Womanhood) Lens in Theologie im context von Biographie und weltbild, Tobias Faix Francke-Buchhandlung.
  • 2010.  One of the 8 Associate Editors of The AfricanaBibleReading Israel’s Scriptures from
  • 2010. Scriptures and the African Diaspora, Page, H et al, Augsburg-Fortress Press, Minneapolis.
  • 2010. A Commentary on “Jeremiah” in The AfricanaBibleReading Israel’s Scriptures from
  • 2010. Scriptures and the African Diaspora, Page, H et al, Augsburg-Fortress Press, Minneapolis. USA, 2010: 147-156.
  • 2010. Co-author with  Sadler, RS “The Ketuvim: A Rationale” in Job in The Africana Bible, Page, H et al, Minneapolis, Augsburg-Fortress Press, USA, 2010: 237-243
  • 2010. Co-author with  Sadler, RS “The Ketuvim: A Rationale” in The Africana Bible, Page, H et al, Minneapolis, Augsburg-Fortress Press, USA, 2010: 217-219.
  • 2010. “Women, Africana Reality and the Bible” in The Africana Bible.., Page, H et al, Minneapolis, Augsburg-Fortress Press, USA, 2010: 33-38
  • 2010. Feminist Theology/Theologies in Africa in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, Patte, D (general editor).
  • 2010. Women’s Christian Practices and Theologies in the African Independent Churches and the Newly formed Charismatic Churches in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity Patte, D (general editor).
  • 2009.   Impoverished on Harvesting Ground? Re-reading Ruth 3 in an HIV/Aids Positive South Africa in Another World is Possible:  Spiritualities and Religions of Global Darker Peoples, Hopkins, D & Lewis, M (eds.). The Cross Cultural Theologies of Equinox Publishing. 
  • 2009. The Use of the Bible Regarding Poverty in African-South African Pentecostal Settings:  A Bosadi (Womanhood) Approach in Religion and Poverty: Pan African Perspectives, Paris, Peter (ed.), Duke University Press, North Carolina, USA.
  • 2008. An African-Conscious Female’s Reading of Steve Biko in The Legacy of Stephen Bantu Biko: Theological Challenges, Research Institute for Religion and Theology, du Toit, C (ed.). University of South Africa, Pretoria, 114-155
  • 2007.  Killed by AIDS and buried by religion:  African female bodies in crisis, in Interpreting classical religious texts in Contemporary Africa, Holter, K (ed.). Nairobi:  Acton Publishers.  165-180.
  • 2007. Challenging poverty through proverbs:  An African transformational hermeneutic in LET MY PEOPLE STAY! Researching the Old Testament in Africa ,  Holter, K (ed.), Nairobi:  Acton Publishers, 21-34
  • 2005.  Theirs Hermeneutics was Strange! Ours is a Necessity! Reading Vashti in Esther1 as African Women in South Africa in “Her Master’s Tools?  Feminist Challenges to Historical-Critical Interpretations:  Global Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship”. Van der Stichele, C & Penner,T (eds.). SBL:  Atlanta, 179-194.
  • 2005. The “Sword” that Heals: The Bible and Women in African/South African Pentecostal Churches in  “On Being Church:  African Women’s Voices and Visions”.  Phiri, I A & Nadar, S (eds.).  WCC: Geneva, 47-59.
  • 2005. Gevangen zwischen zwei Traditionen:  afrikanisch-südafrikanische Christinnen in den Zeiten von AIDS in Gott vertauen?  AIDS und Theologie im südlichen Afrika, Heidemanns, K & Moerschbacher, M (eds).  Freiburg/Basel/Wien: Herder, 58-71.
  • 2004.  A Commentary on the Book of Ruth in “Global Bible Commentary”, Patte, D et al (eds.). Abingdon Nashville. 86-91.
  • 2003.  Mapping Out Theology at Unisa, in “A Book on the Conference Proceedings of the Meeting of African Roman Catholic Scholars in Kumasi, Ghana”, Moerschbacher M (ed.)..
  • 2003. Trapped Between Two Canons: African- South African Christian Women in the HIV/AIDS Era in “HIV/AIDS, African Women and Faith Communities”. Phiri, I et al (eds.). Cluster: Pietermaritzburg. 113-127.
  • 2003. Prophecy as a Method of Speaking about the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Southern Africa in “HIV/AIDS and the Curriculum:  Methods of Integrating HIV/AIDS in Theological Programmes”. Dube, M W (ed.).  WCC: Geneva.  35-42.
  • 2001.  Wisdom and Wisdom Converge: Selected Old Testament and Northern Sotho Proverbs, in “Interpreting the Old Testament in Africa: Papers from the International Symposium on Africa and the Old Testament in Nairobi”, Getui, M N, Holter, K & Zinkutatire, V (eds.). Acton: Nairobi. 133-145.
  • 2001. Esther and Northern Sotho Stories: An African-South African Woman’s Commentary in “Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible”, Dube M W (ed.).SBL: Atlanta. 27-49.
  • 2001. A Bosadi (Womanhood) Reading of Proverbs 31:10-31 in “Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible”, Dube M W (ed.). SBL: Atlanta. 145-157.
  • 2001. Polluting your Ground?  Woman as Pollutant in Yehud:  A Reading from a Globalised Africa in “Towards an Agenda for Contextual Theology:  Essays in Honour of Albert Nolan”, Speckman, M T & Kaufmann, L T (eds.). Pietermaritzburg:  Cluster. 185-202.
  • 2001. An Eco(bosadi) Reading of Psalm 127 in “The Earth Stories in the Psalms and the Prophets”, Habel, N (ed.). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 109-122.
  • 1999.  In Search of Peace:  A South African Context in “Holy Land- Hollow Jubilee: God, Justice and the Palestinians”, Ateek, N A & Prior M (eds). Melisende: London, 271- 278.

Journal articles

  • 2017. Towards an MIT-Conscious Biblical Studies in South Africa? Glimpsing the Stories of Absent Husbands and Waiting Wives. OTE 30/2, 384-402.
  • 2017. Reading Proverbs 7 in the Context of Female ‘Blessers’ and Sugar Mamas in South Africa, Scriptura 116/2, 120-132.
  • 2016. Brief Notes: Searching for Affirming Notions of (African) Manhood in the Paean in Praise of the ‘Eshet Hayil? One African Woman’s Response to Joel K.T. Biwul’s Article, “What is he doing at the Gate”?, OTE29/2, 360-369.
  • 2016. Ruminating on Justin Ukpong’s inculturation hermeneutics and its implications for the study of African Biblical Hermeneutics today, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 72(1), a3343.
  • 2016. Amidst tongues tearing apart and lying lips, God of and for the oppressed: Casting an African gaze at Psalm 12, Stellenbosch Theological Journal 2 (2), 365-380.
  • 2016. Who calls the shots in Naomi’s Life? Reading the Naomi-Ruth Story within the African Religio-cultural context, Acta Theologica Supplementum 24, 84-96.
  • 2016. Masenya(ngwan’a Mphahlele) and Mtshiselwa V.N.N, Dangling between death and hope: An HIV and AIDS gender-sensitive re-reading of Psalm 6, Verbum et Ecclesia 37(2), a1579., 1-8.
  • 2016. Mtshiselwa,V.N.N.and Masenya(ngwan’a Mphahlele), M, Verbum et Ecclesia 37(2), Gender and Sexualities in African Contexts and Circle Theologies, Gender...VE 37(2), a1662.
  • 2016. Mtshiselwa V.N.N. and Masenya(ngwan’a Mphahlele), M.South African Female Presidential Leadership and the inevitability of a dongs as final destination? Reading the Deuteronomistic Athaliah the bosadi way, Verbum et Ecclesia (37)2.
  • 2015. Who is Who between the Proverbial Sage and Qoheleth? Casting a Wisdom Gaze at South Africa, Post-Independence, JTSA 153, 94-111.
  • 2015. In the Ant’s School of Wisdom: A Holistic African-South African Reading of Proverbs6:6-11. OTE 28/2, 421-432.
  • 2015. Co-authored with Ramantswana, H. Lupfumu lu Mavuni (Wealth is in the land): In Search of the Promised Land (cf. Exod 3-4) in the Post-Colonial, Post-Apartheid South Africa, JTSA, March 2015, 96-116.
  • 2015. Co-Authored with Ramantswana, H. African Biblical Hermeneutics: Engaging the Metaphor of the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of the Word.  Accepted for publication in Verbum et Ecclesia.
  • 2014.   For Ever Trapped? An African Voice on Insider/Outsider Dynamics within South African Old Testament Gender-Sensitive Frameworks, OTE 21(1), 189-204.
  • 2014.   Female and Royal Humanity? One African Woman’s Meditation on Psalm 8, OTE 27/2, 489-501.
  • Black (Humanity) is Beautiful! Reading Biko and Meditating on Psalm 8, Theologia Viatorum 38/1, 1-13.
  • 2013. The Dissolution of the Monarchy, the Collapse of the temple and the “elevation” of Women in the Post-Exilic Period: Any Relevance for African Women’s Theologies?  OTE 26(1), 137-153.
  • 2013. Engaging with the Book of Ruth as single African Christian Women: One African Christian Woman’s Reflection, Verbum et Ecclesia, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2013), 9 pages, doi: 10,4102/ ve.v34:1.771, 30 Sept. 2013.
  • 2012. Eating the Louse and its Larva: Poverty as reflected in Selected African and Old  Testament Proverbs, Scriptura III (3) 452-459.
  • 2012. Anything New under the sun of Old Testament scholarship? African Qoheleths’ review of OTE 1994-2010, Old Testament Essays 25 (3), 598-637 (co-authored with H. Ramantswana).
  • 2012. Without a voice, with a violated body: Re-reading Judges 19 to challenge gender violence in sacred texts, Missionalia  40 (3), 20-31.
  • 2012. Rebecca Alpert’s Lesbian Reading of the Book of Ruth within  the Metsoalle Context of Lesotho, Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa, June 2012.
  • 2012. Dripping Nails, Desire and Polygynous Partnerships: Navigating Women’s Stories in Gen 29-30 through African Love Song(s), Theologia Viatorium 36(1).
  • 2011.   Co-author with Bookholane, L. Towards an Ethical Reading of the Hebrew Bible in the Fight against HIV and AIDS in Old Testament Essays 24(1), 94-117.
  • 2010.  Parental Instruction in Differing Contexts:  A Hermeneutical Phenomenology of Prov. 1:8-9 in Old Testament Essays 23 (3),728-751.
  • 2010. Is Ruth the Ēšet Hayil for Real?  Womanhood Between African Proverbs and the Threshing Floor( Ruth1:1-13) in Studia Historiae Ecclesiaticae, Vol. XXXVI, 253-  272.
  • 2010. All from the Same Source?  Deconstructing a (male) Anthropocentric Reading of Job(3) through an Eco-bosadi Lens in Journal of Theology in Southern Africa 137, 46-60.
  • 2010. Wa re o bona e hlotša, wa e nametša thaba! Beibele(Mangwalo a Makgethwa), basadi      baMaafrika baAfrika-Borwa le HIV/AIDS in Verbum et Ecclesia, November, E-journal.
  • 2009. Bible-Inspired Songs Hijacked into Political Music:  A gaze at the Post-Apartheid Religious Landscape in Theologia Viatorium 33 (1), 53-76.
  • 2009. “For Better, For Worse? : The (Christian) Bible, Women and Africana Reality in  Old Testament Essays  22(1), 126-150.
  • 2009. Her-Appropriation of His-Lament?  Her-Lament of Job 3, from an African Story-Telling Approach. An African Story-Telling Reading of Job 3 in Theologia Viatorium 33(3), 385-408.
  • 2007. Seeking Security through Marriage:  Ruth1:6-18 Placed Under an African Woman’s HIV and AIDS Lens in Journal of Constructive Theology, November, 13(2), 43-56.
  • 2006. “Invisible Exiles? An African-South African Woman’s Reconfiguration of Exile in Jeremiah 21:1-10” in Old Testament Essays 20 (3), 756-771.
  • 2006.   Killed by Aids and Buried by Religion:  African Female Bodies in Crisis, Old Testament Essays 19(2), 486-499.
  • 2006. Challenging Poverty Through Proverbs:  An African Transformational Hermeneutic in Old Testament  Essays 19(2), 393-404.
  • 2005.  The Bible and Prophecy in African-South African Pentecostal Churches in Missionalia 33 (1), 20-34.
  • 2005. The Optimism of the Wise in Africa and in Israel:  How Helpful in the Time of HIV/AIDS? in Old Testament Essays18 (2), 296-308.
  • 2005. The Bible, HIV/AIDS and African/South African Women:  A Bosadi Approach in Studia Historiae Ecclesiaticae, Vol XXXI (1), 187-201.
  • 2005. An African Methodology for South African Biblical Sciences: Revisiting the Bosadi (Womanhood) Approach in  Old Testament Essays 18(3), 741-751. 
  • 2004. The “Sword” that Heals: The Bible and Women in African/South African Pentecostal Churches, in Journal of Constructive Theology 10(1), 29-40.
  • 2004. Struggling with Poverty/Emptiness:  Rereading the Naomi-Ruth Story in African-South Africa, in Journal of Theology in Southern Africa 120, 46-59.
  • 2004. Teaching Western-Oriented Old Testament Studies to African Students:  An Exercise in Wisdom or in Folly? in Old Testament Essays, Vol 17, No. 3, 455-469.   .
  • 2003.  A Small Herb Increases Itself (Impact) by a Strong Odour:  Reimagining Vashti in Esther 1 in an African-South African Context in Old Testament Essays, Vol 16, No. 2, 332-342.
  • 2003. Sacrificing Female Bodies at the Altar of Male Privilege: A Bosadi Reading of Judges 19, Theologia Viatorium, Vol 27, No.1, 98-122.
  • 2002.  “...but you shall let every girl live”: Reading Exodus1:1-2:10 the Bosadi (Womanhood) Way in Old Testament Essays (15)1, 99-112.
  • 2001.   Between Unjust Suffering and the “Silent” God:  Job and HIV/AIDS Sufferers in South Africa in Missionalia (29)2, 186-199.
  • 2001. What Differences do African Contexts Make for English Bible Translations? in Old Testament Essays (14) 2, 281-296.
  • 1999.   Biblical Authority and the Authority of Women’s Experiences: Whither Way? in Scriptura 70, Vol 3,229-240.
  • 1998.   A Bosadi (Womanhood) Reading of Genesis16 in Old Testament Essays, Vol 11, No. 2, 271-287.
  • 1997.  Proverbs 31:10-31 in a South African Context: A Reading for the Liberation of African (Northern Sotho) Women in Semeia 78, 55-68.
  • 1997. Redefining Ourselves: A Bosadi (Womanhood) Approach in Old Testament Essays, Vol. 10, No. 3, 439-448.
  • 1995.  The Bible and Women: Black Feminist Hermeneutics in Scriptura 54, May, 189-201.
  • 1995. Freedom in Bondage: Black Feminist Hermeneutics in Ned. Geref. Teologiese Tydskrif, no 1, March, 115-123.
  • 1994.  Wisdom meets Wisdom: Selected Old Testament Proverbs Contextualised in a Northern Sotho Setting in  Ned. Geref. Teologiese Tydskrif, no 1, March, 15-23.
  • 1994. A Feminist Perspective on Theology  with Particular Reference to Black Feminist Theology in Scriptura 49, May, 64-74.
  • 1990.  In the School of Wisdom: An Interpretation of Some Old Testament Proverbs in a Northern Sotho Context, in Old Testament Essays, 1990. Vol 2 (1), 171-191.

Articles Published in Other Journals

  • 2016.  Navigating a Gender-Unconscious Biblical Studies Academic Context: One African Woman’s Reflection, 1661-3317), LDiff.
  • 2005.  HIV/AIDS and African Biblical Hermeneutics:  Focus on Southern African Women in Chakana 3 (2005), 21-35.
  • 2005. Struggling to find “Africa” in South Africa:  A Bosadi (Womanhood) approach to biblical texts in SBL Forum (Online Journal), June.
  • 2003. Liberation with Us? Re-reading the Book of Exodus in a Post-Apartheid South Africa in African Journal of Biblical Studies, Vol XIX, No.2, 2003, 51-69.
  • 2002.  The State of Theological Education in Southern Africa:  Issues and Concerns, in Ministerial Formation July/October, 2002.  Co-editor with P Gundani, T Maluleke, I Phiri 67-75.
  • 2002. Is White South African Old Testament Scholarship African? in Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa (12), 3-8.
  • 2002. Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa (13). A Response to Himbaza and Holter, 9-12.
  • 2000. Making the Context of African-South African Women a Hermeneutical Focus in             Theological Education in National Initiative for the Contextualisation of Theological           Education, 20-26.
  • 1999.  A Mosadi Reading of Prov. 31:10-31, 2-6 in Newsletter on African Old Testament Scholarship.
  • 1998. Ngwetši (Bride):  The Naomi-Ruth Story from an African-South African Woman’s Perspective, in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 14, No. 2, Fall, 81-90.
  • 1997.    Reading the Bible the Bosadi (Womanhood) Way in Bulletin for Contextual Theology in Southern Africa and Africa, Vol. 4, No. Two, July, 15-16.
  • 1996.   A Woman Reads Proverbs, 10-11 in Bulletin: News for the Human Sciences, Vol 3. No. 1, March.
  • 1995.  African Womanist Hermeneutics: A Suppressed Voice from South Africa Speaks in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol 11, No 1, Spring, 147-155.
  • 1994. A Northern Sotho Marriage Setting: A Weal or a Woe? Focus on Some Feminist/Womanist Principles in Theologia Viatorium, Vol 21, December, 29-56.

Books, Blurbs and Journal Guest Editor:

  • 2013.  Blurb to Bible in Mission: Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series, Volume 18, P. Hoggarth, F. Macdonald, B. Mitchell and Jorgensen. Oxford: Regnum Books International.
  • 2007. Blurb to Sacred Selves: Guest editor, Journal of Constructive Theology, November, 13(2).
  • 2010.  Associate Editor of the Africana Bible Commentary Biblia Africana:   Perspectives on Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora. Augsburg-Fortress Press, USA. 
  • 2003.  Co-editor with I. Phiri, B. Hadad.  African Women, HIV/AIDS and Faith Communities. Cluster. Pietermaritzburg.
  • 2004.  How Worthy is the Woman of Worth?  Rereading Proverbs31-10-31 in African-South Africa. Peter Lang: New York.
  • 1997. Co-author with C. Landman: Their Stories is Our’s: Biblical Women and Us. Bible Studies for African-South African Women: Powell Bible Centre: Pretoria.

Professional positions, fellowships & awards

  • Numerous travel grants to attend foreign congresses; NRF Rated; Receiver of Unisa’s Women in Research Award
  • Womanist Scholar at Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA (2004-2005)
  • Chair of Department (Unisa: Department of OT and ANES: 2006-2011)


  • Hebrew Bible Proverbs and African Contexts
  • Co-editing a book on African Biblical Hermeneutics to be published by Cambridge Scholars Press
  • Hebrew Bible, Gender/African Women and HIV and AIDS-conscious Biblical Hermeneutics
  • The Bible, gender and HIV and AIDS Studies