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Recent Publications by Jesuits in Africa

JHIA encourages Jesuit authors (especially those in or from Africa and Madagascar) to donate a copy of their publications to the Institute for preservation. The following books reached JHIA recently:

The Way, the Truth and the Life

The Way_the_Truth_and_the_LifeThe Way, the Truth and the Life: A Confluence of Asia, Europe and Africa in Jesus of Nazareth, by Festo Mkenda SJ, Michael Amaladoss SJ, Gerard J. Hughes SJ, Laurenti Magesa, and Diane B. Stinton (Nairobi: Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, 2017), vi + 194 pages. ISBN: 978-9966-1860-0-3.

Published as a souvenir in honour of Adolfo Nicolás SJ, former Superior General of the Jesuits, this book beautifully explores the different ways the traditions of Asia, Europe and Africa could contribute to a deeper understanding of Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Its point of departure is Nicolás’ severally repeated insight that, while Europe (or, more generally, the West) has placed an emphasis on “the truth,” Asian traditions are profoundly “way” traditions, and those of Africa are profoundly “life” traditions. In Nicholas’ view: What Asia has in abundance, Africa, Europe and the world in general are greatly in need of; what Europe has in abundance, Africa, Asia and the world in general are greatly in need of; and what Africa has in abundance, Asia, Europe and the world in general are greatly in need of. It follows that Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas—in short, each human culture and tradition—has a specific input which the Church must accept “if we want the fullness of Christ to be present” (Nicolás). In the end, we need the perspective of another if we really want to enrich our own knowledge of Christ. With Michael Amaladoss exploring the Asian contribution, Gerard J. Hughes, the Western, and Laurenti Magesa, the African, this book expands Nicolás’ insight to provide “incontestable rationale for the confluence of global epistemic, cultural and religious traditions at the service of a dignifying understanding and practice of spirituality” (A. E. Orobator SJ, President of the Conference of Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar).

To order this book, please click here or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Le Départ

DEPARTURELe Départ, by Ghislain Tshikendwa Matadi, SJ. (Paris: Jets d'Encre, 2018), 156 pages. ISBN: 978-2-35523-031-8.

The Inner Journey, Wise and Profound, of a Young African in Search of Himself

Since childhood, Mileno has dreamed of approaching elephants. Lweji, his adoptive father, told him many stories about these fearsome and majestic creatures, hunting and encounter stories, adventures that Mileno would like to live himself. But time passes, Mileno is growing and other priorities are replacing his childhood dreams. Yet, deep in his heart, the hope of meeting an elephant remains. But is it really the majestic animal that Mileno wishes to find? Would not the Elephant's quest have a different meaning?

In this novel, a real appeal to both physical and internal travel, Ghislain Tshikendwa Matadi trains his character (personage) in a human and spiritual journey, nourished by meetings and experiences, which reminds us that it is by searching for the essential that we can blossom and live fully this life.

Mary of Bethany Called The Magdalene

Mary of Bethany Called The MagdaleneMary of Bethany Called the Magdalene. A Synopsis of the Four Gospels Deciphering One Biblical Figure.
by Chukwuemeka Orji, S.J. African Jesuit Publications: Nairobi, 2018.  pp. xxxiii + 195 pages. ISBN 9966-7043-3-7

As the cover suggests, this book sees Mary of Bethany – sibling of Martha and Lazarus, as the woman disciple of Jesus who made a bold step, growing in the faith. It is in this context that she received the new name or surname of “tower”, consistent with the case of Simon whom he named Peter; James and John sons of Zebedee whom he named Boanerges (sons of Thunder); Simon called the Zealot; and so on; but not all surnames go back to Jesus himself.

According to this book, Mary of Bethany is doubtless Mary Magdalene – but often mistakenly presented as originating from ‘Magdala’ a city which existed only in Ancient Egypt and mentioned «Migdol» several times in the OT. It will be stressful and fruitless to search for this city which is not cited anywhere in the NT (see J. F. CHAMPOLLION [1814], A. PLUMMER [1922/1981], J. FITZMYER, S.J. [1979/1981] among many other exegetes). The word “Magdalene” is hardly a nomen gentilicium or geographically derived. To the contrary, the surname “the Magdalene” must rather be understood originally from the Hebrew root of the terms for “growth” and “tower”.

This volume has been achieved thanks to a synopsis of the Four Gospels. Saint John the Evangelist underlines in John 11,2 that it was this woman who anointed Jesus the Messiah in the course of a simple meal in Bethany. If the three Gospels Matt, Mark and John are in agreement with Bethany as the location of the residence where Jesus was entertained, Luke on the contrary differs, and locates a site in Galilee for his composition. His freedom as a redactor along with his own inspiration takes him even further. He presents a narrative on the same subject of a “lacking hospitality”: from the point of view of its serious absence. By doing that his readers massively inadvertently slip into the error of mixing up the four passages to the point of creating a repentant prostitute out of Mary the Magdalene.

Saint Luke alone in his Gospel speaks of Mary Magdalene from whom seven demons went out. This statement evokes a serious curiosity and is in itself enigmatic for anyone who reads the NT and the Apocryphal Writings. If this idea has been employed by the second redactor (Mark 16,9) of the “longer ending of Mark” (vv. 9-20), it is precisely because he borrows it from Luke and makes it an exorcism, attributing it to Jesus. But in the ‘careful wording’, this was not quite directly affirmed by Luke for whom the labelling with seven demons was only an insult directed to a woman who had nothing else to do other than getting herself involved in the circle of a Rabbi and his male disciples. The use of the expression “demon” or “evil spirit” that we often find in the Synoptic Gospels loses its importance as one gradually approaches the period of composition of the Fourth Gospel who uses the term uniquely in a sarcastic sense (cfr. all the occurrences of these terms in John). In addition, in John, “the ruler of this world” is cast out (12,31) and judged (16,11); the death and Resurrection of Jesus are one event seen as a cosmic Exorcism. But aren’t people still complaining of "demons" today? Has this primitive and obscure vocabulary not lost its meaning in a later world now aufgeklärt?

Saint Jerome was the first to point out the special merits of this woman, when, in a commentary, he calls attention to Mary named “the tower [the Magdalene] out of the earnestness and glow of her faith”.

To order this book, please click here or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Let Us Respect One Another: A meditation on the Foundations of Christian Living

Let Us Respect One AnotherLet Us Respect One Another: A meditation on the Foundations of Christian Living, by Salvador Ferrao, SJ assisted by Laurenti Magesa (Makuyu: Don Bosco Press, 2018) 87 pages.

Fr. Laurenti  Magesa and Fr. Abuna Salvador studied in Kipalapala Theologate in Tabora, Tanzania in 1972. Magesa was junior to Salvador. After ordination, Salvador was invited to preach a retreat to the seminarians there. He saw Magesa playing tennis with their Professor Fr. Gerald Taylor (now deceased) of the Missionaries of Africa, and asked him what had happened: had he not graduated yet? Magesa told him he was now a lecturer. Since then the two did not meet until 2017.

Fr. Magesa is now an author of many books and a competent theologian and has helped Fr. Salvador to put his unruly thinking into somewhat coherent flow.

This piece of work is a gesture of gratitude to Don Pedro Arrupe, and former Father General, who missioned Salvador to Africa in 1972. Arrupe’s life exemplified “Apostolic Aggressivity” and “Holy Boldness.” It is also in appreciation to his successor, Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach S.J. who stated persuasively that the Eucharist is confrontative, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas S.J., who spoke of “non-geological nations”, and General Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, S.J, who believes in the Audacity of the Impossible”.

A Short Investigation of the Catholic Church

A Short Investigation of the Catholic ChurchA Short Investigation of the Catholic Church: From the Council of Jerusalem to the Council of Trent, by Ignatius M. Zvarevashe, S.J. (Gweru: Mambo Press, 2016), xx + 298 pages. ISBN: 978-0-86922-886-9.

This book is about walking along with the Church, examining concisely and critically its history, theology and spirituality from its apostolic foundation to the Council of Trent. This historical and theological treatise is concerned mainly with the behaviour, discipline and doctrine of the Church as it passed through different periods of history. The author endeavours to show how, where and why the Church deviated and strayed from the right path. Without whitewashing the stigmas of the dark side of the history of the Church, he lets facts speak for themselves, especially on the questions of inquisition, heresies and heretics, and the Reformation. (Adapted from the book’s synopsis)

Mothers of Faith

Mothers-of-faithMothers of Faith: Motherhood in the Christian Tradition, by Wilfred M. Sumani, S.J. (Meryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017), xvii + 298 pages. ISBN: 978-1-62698-257-4.

This book explores the riches of the biblical and Christian tradition of faith-based motherhood. With Mothers of Faith as its title, it naturally fills a gap in an imagination that is accustomed to thinking about “Fathers of the Church” only. Results of a long reflection on lived experiences and on the Christian theological tradition are here presented in an easily readable book that is divided into four parts. The first presents portraits of select mothers in the Old Testament, while the second focuses on mothers in the New Testament, culminating in the longest chapter of all: “Mary the Mother of Meditation.” The third part takes a few samples of mothers from the Christian tradition. The fourth part articulates the sacramental character of motherhood, arguing, among other things, that motherhood mirrors important qualities of God. Thus, to borrow the expression of Margaret Hebblethwaite, one can find “God in motherhood” and “motherhood in God.” In this sense, the book is intended for a readership wider than mothers. There is also a gradual progression in the book from narrative to more speculative theological engagement. The underlying conviction is that relevant and sound theology starts with human experience.


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