A Semiotic Approach to the Theology of Inculturation

By Cyril Orji

An exploration of the applicability of semiotics to the theological and cultural challenges involved in spreading the gospel in Africa.

ISBN: 9780227176610


A Semiotic Approach to the Theology of Inculturation argues that though it is a difficult and delicate task, inculturation is still a requisite demand of a World Church and that without it the Church is unrecognisable and unsustainable. The book also suggests that the past failures of inculturation experiments in Africa can be overcome only by critically applying the science of semiotics, which can serve as an antidote to the nature of human knowing and reductionism that characterised earlier attempts to make Christianity African to the African.

Drawing from the semiotic works of C.S. Peirce, Clifford Geertz, and Bernard Lonergan, Cyril Orji shows why semiotics is best suited to an African theology of inculturation and offers ten pinpointed precepts, identified as ‘Habits’, which underline the attentiveness, reasonableness, and responsibility required in a semiotic approach to a theology of inculturation. The ‘Habits’ are also akin to the imperatives inherent in the notion of catholicity – that catholicity is not identified with uniformity but with reconciled diversity, and also that catholicity demands different forms in different places, times, and cultural settings.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 234

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Cyril Orji is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Core Integrated Study at the University of Dayton. He is the author of The Catholic University and the Search for Truth (2013) and Ethnic and Religious Conflict in Africa: An Analysis of Bias and Conversion Based on the Works of Bernard Lonergan (2008).


Foreword by Dennis M. Doyle

1. The Problematic of African Theology of Inculturation
2. Single Story Narratives and Resilience of African Independent Churches
3. Metapragmatic Use of Language
4. “Cultural Turn” and the Problematic of Inculturation
5. Inculturation Reconsidered in Light of New Studies in Semiotics
6. Ten Habits of Highly Effective Work in African Theology of Inculturation



Endorsements and Reviews

This book is the first of its kind to take Lonergan’s critique of classicist culture as a context and apply it concretely towards a method for theological reflection in an African context. He transposes Lonergan’s critique into ten principles for the constructive engagement between theology and culture. It promises to become a handbook for contextual theologians.
John D. Dadosky, Associate Professor, Regis College/University of Toronto

Cyril Orji has written an important book on the theology of Inculturation. His argument that a semiotic approach to spreading the gospel in non-western societies is refreshing and consistent with new directions of research in the humanities disciplines. While Christianity has made major strides in postcolonial Africa, Orji argues that it must continuously look for ways to include in the delivery of the gospel African traditions, values, and history in order to remain relevant in the continent. It should attract a wide readership in African Studies.
Julius A. Amin, Professor, University of Dayton