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John Mbiti

Mbiti, John Samuel
b. 1931
Anglican Church of Kenya and Reformed Church of Bern
Kenya and Switzerland


John Samuel Mbiti, theologian, author, teacher and pastor, called "the father of contemporary African theology," was born on Monday, November 30th, 1931 in Mulango, Kitui, Kenya. He is the son of Samuel Mutuvi Ngaangi and Velesi Mbandi Mutuvi of the Akamba people. He is married to Verena Mbiti-Siegenthaler and they have four children, Kyeni Samuel, Maria Mwende, Esther Mwikali, and Anna-Kavata.

Born between the two World Wars, Mbiti grew up under the open skies in a landscape seemingly without boundaries,--a setting which invited curiosity and stretched the imagination. These were his early impressions as he worked in the fields, herded sheep, goats and cattle and went to school. His keenness for knowledge shaped and prepared his young inquisitive mind for his interest in writing and for the rapid changes of the second half of the twentieth century.

Mbiti completed studies at the local mission elementary school at Mulango in three years instead of the usual six years. After that he attended primary school at Kitui town (walking 8-10 kilometers each day), and then went on to the Alliance High School (1946-1949), a joint Protestant (mission) school, near Nairobi. While he attended high school, the joy and the deep-seated desire to write found expression in a first novel Mutunga Na Ngewa Yake, later published by the East African Literature Bureau in Nairobi in 1954. The missionaries responsible for assessing and recommending publications in Kiikamba, his mother tongue, lost the only manuscript of his second and longer novel, and did not even apologise for the loss. This irreparable loss was a deep disappointment to him.

After finishing high school in 1949 Mbiti went on to study at Makerere University College, Kampala, Uganda, which had just become an external college of the University of London. He became one of their first students to graduate with a degree. He majored in English and geography, with additional courses in economics, history, sociology and fine art. There was no course yet offered in religious studies. As a student he played a very active role in the Christian life of the university community which was structured around the chapel, according to both the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions. It was during this period that he received the vision to take up the sacred ministry.

After graduating with a B.A. degree in 1953 he taught for a short while at his home school in Kenya. This period of six months in 1954 marks the beginning of a life-long collecting of traditional stories and proverbs. He then travelled overseas to study theology in the United States of America, at what was then named Barrington College,--now Gordon-Barrington College,--in New England. Here, Mbiti obtained an A.B. degree in 1956 and a Th.B. in 1957. After a period of two years back in Kenya working at the Teacher Training College at Kangundo and doing itinerant preaching, he was offered the William Paton Lectureship and worked as visiting lecturer from 1959-1960 at the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, England.

Mbiti went on to do his doctoral studies in New Testament studies at Cambridge University, and obtained his Ph.D. in 1963. While at Cambridge he met his future wife Verena Siegenthaler from Switzerland, who was there to study English. They got married in 1965. The Oxford University Press published the results of his research in 1971 as New Testament Eschatology in an African Background: A Study of the Encounter Between New Testament Theology and African Traditional Concepts. Ordained to the Anglican orders in 1963 John Mbiti served for fifteen months in St. Michael's parish at St. Albans, near London. For the next ten years (1964-1974) he was lecturer and later professor at Makerere University, Uganda, teaching New Testament, theology, African religion, and other world religions. He also assisted in the chapel ministry. In the course of his academic and church work, his knowledge of various languages served him well. These include: Kiikamba, Kiswahili, some Gikuyu, English, German, Bärndütch, French, Greek, Hebrew, and "a sprinkling of Luganda and Latin."

Mbiti's first choice in academic work was New Testament studies. But he was also given the responsibility of teaching African religion, among other courses, in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Makerere University. True to his inquisitive nature he read up the little that was available on African religion, and supplemented his knowledge through extensive research and fieldwork, often with the help of students. His skills as a researcher and an author resulted in his well-known African Religions and Philosophy first published in 1969 (2nd revised and enlarged edition in 1990). Considered by the author to have been merely a compilation of lecture notes brought together at his students' request, the worldwide response to this publication came as an unexpected surprise to him. With time Mbiti produced an increasing number of publications that have made an impact on the African theological scene. The next two decades saw the publication of (among others) Concepts of God in Africa (1970), Love and Marriage in Africa (1973), The Prayers of African Religion (1975) and Bible and Theology in African Christianity (1986). Besides his well-known books he has published over 400 items including books, articles, essays, poems, and book reviews in the fields of Christianity, theology, biblical studies, ecumenics, literature and African religion.

From 1974 to 1980 he served as director and professor at the The Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches at the Château de Bossey in Geneva. After that he took up full time parish ministry in Burgdorf in the Reformed Church of Bern, Switzerland, where he served from 1981 until he retired in 1996. From 1983 to 2003 he taught on part-time basis at the Faculty of Theology, University of Bern, as professor of the Science of Mission and Extra-European Theology. He found it to be a very enriching combination bridging academic and pastoral work, doing theoretical and practical theology. He has been a visiting professor at various universities and seminaries in Africa, Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the U.S.A. In recognition of his contribution to the church and academic knowledge, he has been awarded three honorary doctorate degrees: LHD (h.c.) in 1973 by Barrington College, U.S.A., the Dr. Theol. (h.c.) in 1991 by the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and the D.D. (h.c.) in 1997 by the General Theological Seminary, New York. Religious plurality in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Mbiti, edited by Jacob K. Olupona and Sulayman S. Nyang was published by Mouton de Gruyter in Berlin and New York in 1993. A number of scholars have done or are doing masters and doctoral theses on his thoughts and writings.

From the early nineteen sixties Mbiti called for more attention to be given to the relationship between the Gospel and local culture and traditional religion. The prolific growth of African Initiated (Independent) Churches that are doing much in the area of integrating the Christian Faith into a traditional and contemporary setting confirms this concern. He strives, for example, to establish empathy and relevance for the person of Jesus Christ in an African setting that is both traditional and open to modern life. He maintains that Africa cherishes the Gospel message of personal joy and spirituality that gives hope and healing to the sick person, society and land. He emphasises the value and place of the Bible in the development of theology and practice of Christian life.

Mbiti played a most important role in placing biblical studies and cultural heritage in the midst of the theological process. His main thrust and contribution in publications and teaching have been in the framework of African Heritage, Biblical, Ecumenical and Interreligious studies. He maintains that the Bible is the guide and indispensable tool of theological reflection and articulation; that theology is the product of the universal church in its local and global dimensions; and that the peoples of Africa remain largely and deeply religious in outlook and practice. He sees the theological task in Africa as being enormous, and feels that individual theologians can best tackle it in the spirit of the proverb that says: "One person cannot embrace the baobab tree."

For his life and work, Mbiti pays grateful acknowledgement to the Christian home in which he grew up in Kenya; and to his wife Verena for her encouragement and support in his academic and church work. She is a language teacher of English, French and German. Their four children are in artistic areas of industrial design, sculpture, ceramics and filmmaking, and have also been very understanding. The whole family has a broad international outlook and lives mostly in Switzerland, but maintains strong ties with Kenya.

J. J. van Wyk


Bibliography:

Mbiti, Prof. John S. Interviewed by the author, 15 March 2002, Lusaka. Tape recording. Justo Mwale Theological College, Lusaka.

Selected Bibliography of publications by John S. Mbiti

Articles

  "African Concept of Sin." Frontier, IV Vol. VII, (Autumn 1964): 182-184. [French "Le concept africain du péché." Flambeau, No. 6, (May 1965): 104-106, Yaoundé, Cameroon].
  "African concepts of Time, History and Death." Afrika: German Review of Political, Economic and Cultural Affairs in Africa and Madagascar, Vol. VIII, No. 2, (1967): 33-38. [Africa Theological Journal, No. 1, (February 1968): 8-20, Usa River, Tanzania. German: "Afrikanische Begriffe der Zeit, Geschichte und des Todes." Afrika Heute, Vol. 3, No. 1 (February 1967): 38-42. French: Afrika Heute, Vol. VIII, No. 2, (1967): 33 - 4].
  "Afrikanisches Verständnis der Geister im Lichte des Neuen Testamentes." Rosenkranz, G., ed. Theologische Stimmen aus Asien, Afrika und Lateinamerika, Vol. II. Münich: C. Kaiser Verlag. 1967: 130-147.
  "Afrikanische Beiträge zur Christologie." Vicedom, Georg F., ed. Theologische Stimmen aus Asien, Afrika und Lateinamerika, Vol. III. Münich: C. Kaiser Verlag. 1968: 71-85. [English "Some African Concepts of Christology." Vicedom, G. F. ed.: Christ and the Younger Churches. London: S.P.C.K., 1972: 51-62].
  "African Concept of Human Relations." Ministry: Theological Review, No. 9, (October 1969): 158-162 (Morita, Lesotho).
  "Christianity and Traditional Religions in Africa." The International Review of Mission, Vol. LIX, No. 236, (October 1970): 430-440. [Also published as Christianity and Traditional Religions in Africa. Kampala, Uganda: Gaba Publications, 1971 and in McGavran, Donald A., ed.: Crucial Issues in Missions Tomorrow. Chicago, Moody Press, Chicago, 1972: 144-158].
  "African Names of God." Orita, Vol. VI, No. 1, (June 1972): 3-14. Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  "Church and State: a Neglected Element of Christianity in Contemporary African." Africa Theological Journal, No. 5, (December 1972): 31-45.
   "Harmony, Happiness and Morality in African Religion." The Drew Gateway. A Journal of Comment and Criticism, Vol. 43, No. 2, (Winter 1973): 108-115. (Drew University).
  ò Sothr hmwn (our Saviour) as an African Experience." Lindars, B. and Smalley, S. S., eds.: Christ and Spirit in the New Testament. Studies in honour of Charles Francis Digby Moule. Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press, 1973: 397-414.
  "African Traditional Medicine and its Relevance for Christian Work." Waack, 0., Freytag, J. and Hoffmann, G., eds. So Sende Ich Euch: Festschrift für Dr. Martin Pörksen. Kontal bei Stuttgart: Evangelischer Missionsverlag, 1973: 310-318.
  "African Indigenous Culture in Relation to Evangelism and Church Development." Beaver, R. Pierce, ed. The Gospel and Frontier Peoples. South Pasadena, California, William Carey Library, 1973: 79-95.
  "An African Views American Black Theology." Worldview, Vol. XVII, No. 8, (August 1974), 41-44. [Reprinted: Wilmore, Gayraud S. and Cone, James H., eds. Black Theology - A Documentary History 1966-1979. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979: 477-482. French: "Point de vue d'un théologien africain sur la théologie noire américaine." Lumière et Vie, Tome XXIII, No. 120, (November-December 1974): 82-92).
  "Theological Impotence and the Universality of the Church." The Lutheran World, Vol. XXI, No. 3, (October 1974): 251-260. [German: "Die Machtlosigkeit der Theologie und die Universalität der Kirche." Lutherische Rundschau, Heft 3, 24. Jahrgang, (Dezember 1974): 335-347. Anderson, G. H. and Stransky, T. E., eds. Mission Trends No 3: Third World Theologies. New York: Paulist Press, Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1976: 6-18].
  "Some Reflections on an African Experience of Salvation Today." Samartha, S. J., ed.: Living Faiths and Ultimate Goals: A Continuing Dialogue. Geneva: World Council of Churches, Geneva, 1975: 108-119.
  "God, Dreams and African Militancy." Pobee, J. S., ed.: Religion in a Pluralistic Society: In Honour of Prof. C. G. Baëta. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976: 38-47.
  "The Encounter between Christianity and African Religion." Temenos: Studies in Comparative?Religion Presented by Scholars in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, Vol. 12, (1976): 125-135. Helsinki/Turku, Finland.
  "African Christians and the Jewish Religion." Christian Attitudes on Jews and Judaism: a Bimonthly Documentary Survey, No. 56, (October 1977):1-4. London: Institute of Jewish Affairs.   "The Concept of God in Jewish and African Traditions." by von Hammerstein, Franz, ed. Christian-Jewish Relations in Ecumenical Perspective. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1978): 53-61. [French: "Le concept de dieu dans la vie religieuse des juifs et des africains: analogies remarquables; vues nettement divergentes." SIDIC, edition française de la revue du Service international de documentation judeo-chrétienne, Vol. XI, No. 2, (1978): 4-8 The issue is entitled: "L"afrique et le peuple juifs, affinités bibliques." "Dieu dans la tradition Juive et dans la tradition Africaine." Journal des Missions Evangeliques, Département évangélique français d'action apostolique (DEFAP), No. 1-2-3, 154e (1979): 43-49. German: "Parallelen zwischen dem Alten Testament und dem religiösen Leben von Juden und Afrikanern." Stöhr, Martin, ed. Protokolle 6.79: Europäische Theologie befragt durch Israel und Afrika. Arnoldshain: Evangelische Akademie Arnoldshain, 1979: 13-22.
  "The South African Theology of Liberation: Appreciation and Evaluation." Amirtham, Samuel, ed. A Vision for Man. Essays in Honour of Joshua Russell Chandran. Madras, India: The Christian Literature Society, 1978: 348-358.
  "Wandlung des afrikanischen Menschenbildes durch den Einfluss des Christentums." Mensen, Bernhard SVD, ed. Das Menschenbild Unserer Zeit. St. Augustin, Akademie Völker und Kulturen, 1978: 65-78. [English original: "A Change of the African Concept of Man Through Christian Influence." Robinson, Gnana, ed. For the Sake of the Gospel. Essays in Honour of Samuel Amirtham. Arasaradi, Madurai, India: T.T.S. Publications, 1980: 54-63.
  "The Biblical Basis in Present Trends of African Theology." Africa Theological Journal, Vol. 7, No.1, 1978: 72-85 Lutheran Theological College, Makumira, P.0. Box 55 Usa River, Tanzania. [Also in: Bulletin of African Theology (Bulletin de theologie africaine), Vol. 1, No. 1, (Janvier-Juin 1979): 11-22, Kinshasa, Association oecumenique des théologiens africains / Ecumenical Association of Africans; Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 4, No. 3, (July 1980): 119-124; Appiah-Kubi, Kofi and Torres, Sergio, eds. African Theology En Route. New York: Orbis Books, 1979: 83-94].
  "Cattle Are Born With Ears, Their Horns Grow Later: Towards an Appreciation of African Oral Theology." Bares, Alison, compiler and editor: Christian Theology and Theological Education in TEE African Context. Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1978, 35-51. [German: "Dem Kalb werden Hörner wachsen: Was Afrikas Christen mit 'mündlicher Theologie' meinen." Lutherische Monatshefte, 18. Jahrgang, (September 1979): 523-526. English Reprint: Africa Theological Journal, Vol.8 No.1, (1979): 15-25].
  "Afrikanische Theologie: Hintergrunde, Schwerpunkte, Folgen." Castillo Fernando, Heinrich Fries, Elmar Klinger. John Mbiti, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Reinhard Schwarz. Herausforderung: Die Dritte Welt und die Christen Europas. Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1980: 65-78.
  "The Encounter of Christian Faith and African Religion." The Christian Century, Vol. XCVII, No. 27 (August 27 - September 3, 1980): 817-820.
  "Mission Outreach in African Theology." Essay in the book by Schmutz, Rebecca, ed. Christian Theology and Strategy for Mission. Geneva: The Lutheran World Federation, 1980: 172-198. [French: "Le rayonnement missionnaire dans la theologie africaine." Schmutz Rebecca. Théologie Chrétienne et le Développement D`une Stratégie Missionaire. Geneve: Fédération Luthérienne Mondiale, 1980: 182-210.
  "African Religion and its Contribution to World Order." Mische, Pat, ed. The Whole Earth Papers. No. 16 1982. Spirituality and World Order. New Jersey: Global Education Associates,, 1982: 27-31. [Also "African Religion and World Order." Mische, Patricia M. and Merkling, Melissa, eds.: Towards a Global Civilization? The Contribution of Religions. New York, Bern: Peter Lang, 2001, 361-370].
  "Christianity Tilts to the South: A New Challenge for Christian Ministry and Theological Education." Indian Journal of Theology, No. 33, (January 1984): 1-9. [Also published as: Christianity Tilts to the South: A New Challenge for Christian Ministry and Theological Education. India: Serampore, India 1983].
  "Man in African Religion." Mowoe, Isaac James and Bjornson, Richard, eds. Africa and the West. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986: 55-67.
  "God, Sin, and Salvation in African Religion." The Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center, Volume XVI, Nos. 1 and 2, (Fall 1988/Spring 1989): 59-68. [Also in AME Zion Quarterly Review, Vol. 100 No. 1 (1989): 2-8].
  "Is Jesus Christ in African Religion?" Pobee, John Samuel, ed. Exploring Afro-Christianity. Bern, Frankfurt, New York: Peter Lang, 1992: 21-29.
  "The Bible in African Culture." Gibellini, Rosino, ed. Paths of African Theology. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1994:27-39. [Italian: "La Bibbia nella kultura africana." Gibellini, Rosino, ed. Percorsi di Teologia Africana. Brescia, Italy: Queriniana, 1994: 41-60.
  "Confessing Christ in a Multi-faith Context - with two Examples from Africa." Christianity and Other Faiths in Europe. Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, Geneva Documentation No. 37, November 1995:155-169.
  "The Holy Spirit in African Independent Churches." Faculty of Baptist Theological Seminary, Rüschlikon, Switzerland, eds. Festschrift Günther Wagner. Bern, New York et al: Peter Lang, 1994: 101-111.
  "Challenges Facing Religious Education and Research in Africa: the Case of Dialogue Between Christianity and African Religion." Religion and Theology, Vol. 3/2, (1996): 170-179. University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria.
  "The Ethical Nature of God in African Religion as Expressed in African Proverbs." Saayman, Willem, ed. Embracing the Baobab Tree. The African Proverb in the 21st Century. Pretoria: University of South Africa (UNISA) Press, 1997: 139-162.
  "'Hearts Cannot be Lent!' In Search of Peace and Reconciliation in African Traditional Society." The Princeton Seminary Bulletin. Vol. XX No. 1 New Series, February 1999: 1-12.
  "'When the Right Hand Washes the Left Hand and the Left Hand Washes the Right Hand, the Two Will be Clean.' Some Thoughts on Justice and Christian Mission in Africa." Krämer, Klaus und Paus, Ansgar. Festschrift für Horst Bürkle zum 75. Geburtstag (2000). Herausgeber: Die Weitte des Mysteriums. Christliche Identität im Dialog. Freiburg, Basel und Wien: Herder, 2000: 433-464.
  "'For Now we See in a Glass Darkly...' The Emerging Faces of Jesus Christ in Africa." Colzani, G., Giglioni, P., Karotemprel, S., eds. Cristologia e Missione Oggi. Vatican: Urbaniana University Press, 2001:143-164.
  "'When the Bull is in a Strange Country, It does not Bellow': Tribal Religions and Globalization." Stackhouse, Max L., ed. with Obenchain, Diane B. God and Globalization Volume 3: Christ and the Dominions of Civilization. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 2001: 139-172.
  "'A Person Who Eats Alone Dies Alone': Death as a Point of Dialogue Between African Religion and Christianity." Mwakabana, Hance A.O., ed.: Crises of Life in African Religion and Christianity. Geneva: LWF Studies, 2002: 83-106.

Besides mentioned articles and essays in various journals and books Mbiti made numerous contributions to dictionaries, and encyclopaedias. These include articles in:
Oxford African Encyclopedia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Family of Man Encyclopaedia, Vol. 4. London: Marshall Cavendish, 1975.
Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon, Internationale Theologische Enzyklopädie. Five Volumes. Mbiti, J. S. Co Editor with Fahlbusch Erwin; Jan Milic Lochman, John Pelikan Jaroslav and Lukas Vischer: Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986 -1997. (English translation 1999: The Encyclopedia of Christianity by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, with David B. Barrett as statistical editor, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Leiden: Brill.)
Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, Lossky, Nocholas, Boinino, José Miguez, et al., eds. Geneva: World Council of Churches Publications and Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.
Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Reich, Warren Thomas, editor-in-chief, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Simon & Schuster Macmillan and London: Prentice Hall International, 1995.

Books

Mutunga Na Ngewa Yake. (A novel in Kiikamba). London: Nelson and Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1954. (Went through frequent reprints).
Kithamani kya uthwii. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1954. (Kiikamba translation of Stevenson, R.L. Treasure Island, abridged).
English-Kamba Vocabulary. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Literature Bureau, 1959. (Reprint Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1981).
The People of God. Geneva: World Student Christian Federation, 1962.
Christian Eschatology in Relation to Evangelisation of Tribal Africa, Ph.D.dissertation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, 1963.
Der Wanderer von Land Zu Land. A collection of poems and stories translated into German by Dore Marx and Peter Sulzer. Zürich: Schweizerischer Evangelischer Missionsrat, 1963.
Akamba Stories. Oxford: Oxford University Press and Claredon, 1966. (Published in the series of "The Oxford Library of African Literature"). Paperback reissue Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1983.
African Religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann Educational Books, New York: Praeger, 1969. Paperback edition, Anchor Books New York, Doubleday, 1970. 2nd revised and enlarged edition. Oxford, England and Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann International, 1990. Translations: Japanese translation, Japan: Hosei University Press,1969. French translation 1972. Yaoundé, Cameroon: Editions CLE. German translation, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1974. Korean edition translated by Jin-Hong Jeong, Seoul, Korea: Modern Thought Publishing Company, 1979. Danish edition translated by Birthe M. Holst, Copenhagen, Denmark: Gyldendalske Boghandel. Nordisk Forlag A. S., 1980. Polish translation, Warszawa (Warsaw), Poland: Instytut Wydawniczy Pax, Krystyna Wiercienska, 1980. Spanish edition translated by José Carlos Rodriguez, Madrid, Spain: Arturo Soria, 1991. Italian edition translated by Cinzia Valli, Torino, Italy CEI - Società Editrice Internazionale, 1992).
Poems of Nature and faith. Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1969.
Concepts of God in Africa. New York: Praeger; London: SPCK, 1970.
New Testament Eschatology in an African Background: A Study of the Encounter Between New Testament Theology and African Traditional Concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, London: SPCK, 1971. Reprinted in 1978, London: SPCK.
The Crisis of Mission in Africa. Mukono-Kampala: Church of Uganda Press, 1971.
The Voice of Nine Bible Trees. Mukono-Kampala, Uganda: Church of Uganda, 1972. Press. (Bari translation - Southern Sudan in the Bari language, Sudan 1986 Philippa F. Guillebaud translator/supervisor, Southampton, England: Roy Davis Printers. Also serialised in German in Die Gemeinde, No's 31-39, 1983).
Love and marriage in Africa. London, Longman, 1973.
Death and the Hereafter in the Light of Christianity and African Religion. Inaugural (and Farewell) Lecture Kampala: Makerere University, 1974.
Introduction to African Religion. London: Heinemann, New York: Praeger Inc., 1975. Reprinted 1986. 2nd edition, Oxford, Portsmouth CT, Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books, 1991.
The prayers of African religion. London, SPCK. New York: Orbis Books, 1975.
Prayer and Spirituality in African Religion. Charles Strong Memorial Lecture, Australia, August 1978. Bedford Park, South Australia: Australian Association for the Study of Religions, at Sturt College of Advanced Education, 1978.
Bible and Theology in African Christianity. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1986. German translation, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1987.


Books edited by J. S. Mbiti:

African and Asian Contributions to Contemporary Theology. Report of Consultation held at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Institute Bossey, 8-14 June 1976. Céligny, Geneva: Ecumenical Institute Bossey, 1976.
Confessing Christ in Different Cultures. Report of a Colloquium held at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, 2-8 July 1977. Céligny, Geneva: Ecumenical Institute Bossey, 1977.
Indigenous Theology and the Universal Church. Report of the consultation of the same title 16-22 June 1978. Céligny: Ecumenical Institute Bossey, 1978.
Christian and Jewish dialogue on Man. Report of the Jewish and Christian study seminar at the Ecumenical Institute Bossey, 12-16 March 1978. Céligny: Ecumenical Institute, Chateau de Bossey, 1980.
African Proverbs Series. Five Volumes. Series Editor J. S. Mbiti. Pretoria: University of South Africa (UNISA) Press, 1997. (Also published by Nairobi: Daystar and Ibadan: Sefer Publishers).
Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon, Internationale Theologische Enzyklopädie. Five Volumes. Mbiti, J. S. Co Editor with Fahlbusch Erwin; Jan Milic Lochman, John Pelikan Jaroslav and Lukas Vischer: Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986 –1997. (English translation 1999: The Encyclopedia of Christianity by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, with David B. Barrett as statistical editor, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Leiden: Brill.)

This story, submitted in 2003, was researched and written by Dr. Jurie van Wyk, Director of the DACB Southern and Eastern Africa office in Lusaka, Zambia, and Liaison Coordinator, Justo Mwale Theological College, a DACB participating institution.