"To Love a Muslim is Christian": Religion Education in Africa through the Life Trajectory of Joseph Peter Kenny, O.P. (1936-2013)

Professor Asonzeh Ukah
2019 Pharos Journal of Theology  
The academic study of religion in Nigerian tertiary institutions started about 1948 at the then University College of London, Ibadan, when the British Methodist minister/missionary Geoffrey Parrinder (10.04.1910-16.06.2005) established and headed the Department of Religious Studies. It was clearly theologically inclined as the principal scholars were either European missionaries or members of the local Christian clergy. The work Joseph Kenny, a Dominican priest – originally American by birth
more » ... merican by birth and a Nigerian citizen by naturalisation — marked a significant departure from theologically focused religious studies to the comparative study of religions. Kenny came to Nigeria in 1964, started teaching at the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Major Seminary in Ibadan in 1971, and subsequently joined the Department of Religious Studies, the University of Ibadan, as a lecturer in 1979. He worked across three major religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – evidently the only scholar to achieve a mastery of all the three traditions – exploring common themes, translations and theologies and their implications for religious dialogue in Africa where indigenous religious cosmologies underpin the cultural structures and ontologies. This paper explores the significance of religion scholarship as pioneered by a scholar who is both an insider and an outsider, and who mentored many African scholars of religion and members of the local clergy for more than two decades from 1979 to 2002 when he retired as a professor at the University of Ibadan.
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