The main purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the African and the
Ancient Near Eastern tradition with regard to the ancestral consultation. 1 Samuel 28:3-25 was used
as a point of departure. This text was used because it is the only text in the Hebrew Bible that shows
the act of consulting the dead except those texts explicitly condemning the act.
The study was divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 focused on the introduction and the research
problem. Chapter 2 focused on the study of 1 Samuel 28:3-25 and this was done via and intratextual
and intertextual analysis. The intratextual analysis of 1 Samuel 28:3-25 focused on the
interrelatedness of the text on its literally level. This was done by means of a morphological,
syntactical and structural analysis. The intertextual analysis focused on 1 Samuel 28:3-25 in relation
with other texts in the Hebrew Bible, especially with reference to the practice of ancestral
In Chapter 3 the main focus was on the Ancient Near Eastern tradition with regard to ancestral
consultation and thus focused upon extratextual material. In this chapter, Mesopotamian and
Israelite cultural practices were mainly considered. Customs relating to the act of consulting the
dead were studied. It included funerary customs, death and mourning rites, the place and role of the
dead in society. The study concluded that the act of ancestral consultation in the Ancient Near East
was part of their religion. In Ancient Israel, however, it was prohibited by Yahwistic religion.
Chapter 4 focused on ancestral consultation in African tradition. In this chapter, personal
knowledge and experience were also important. Ancestral consultation in Africa is still a living
tradition. The role of the ancestors was studied and also the role that the living have in relation to
their ancestors. In this chapter the role of Christianity in Africa played pivotal role because
Christianity shaped African religion of today. It is clear from the study that African Christianity still
pays tribute to their dead relatives as they are believed to be closer to God. Both Christians and
those who practice traditional religion agree on the role of the ancestors.
In Chapter 5 the researcher brought together the information in Chapters 1 to 4. In that sense it can
be regarded as the climax of the investigation into ancestral consultation as an ancient and modern
cultural and religious practice. This chapter contains a comparison between African and Ancient
Near Eastern tradition regarding ancestral consultation. The chapter indicates that there is a lot to
compare between the two traditions, but one needs to consider the differences in time, religious
perceptions, geography, economic and political background of the two traditions. This should
especially be considered in evaluating the Ancient Near Eastern tradition because it is in the
“archive”; we can only read and learn about it with reference to available sources, while African
tradition is an existing one.
In Chapter 6 the researcher summarised the main findings of the study with special reference to the
research problem as discussed in the first chapter.