HIMIG UGNAYAN - Land is Life
Land is a central theme in biblical faith. It plays a significant role in the stories in the Bible and had an important function in the formation of God’ s people. As Norman Habel in The Land is Mine says “ Land… is such a comprehensive symbol in the Old Testament that it could be ranked next to God in importance”. Moving the boundary marker of one’s neighbor, a concrete form of exploitation is a grave offense among the people of God. Biblical exhortation not to move boundary markers rings throughout the Old Testament.
In a society where the majority of the people, whether they are rural peasants, urban poor dwellers or the indigenous peoples living in the hinterlands, are landless, this study has been conducted with the aim of discovering and coming to a better understanding of the Old Testament concept of land. It investigates the meaning and significance of the prohibition against moving boundary markers in Deuteronomy 19:14 You must not move your neighbor’s boundary marker, set up by former generations, on the property that will be allotted to you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess. It then attempts to appropriate the discovered meaning among the lumads (the common name of the Indigenous peoples in Mindanao) in Agusan del Sur. The indigenous peoples (IPs), the sector closest to the land, the original owners, are even now being driven away from their land and are being displaced from their ancestral domains to pave the way for business ventures and so-called “development” projects.
This thesis consists of five chapters in which the researcher attempts to interpret the meaning and significance of the prohibition against moving boundary markers in Deut. 19:14 and to appropriate it in the context of doing ministry with the lumads. Chapter I presents the background of the study, statement of the problem, the scope and limitations and a description of the methodology. It also presents the review of related literature on the Old Testament concept of Land and the Indigenous concept of land.
Chapter II is a survey of some Old Testament texts and an ancient Egyptian instruction with the same theme as Deut. 19:14 on the prohibition against moving boundary markers. It studies specifically Micah2:1-5; Isaiah5:8-10; Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10-11; and Chapter Six of the “Instruction of Amen- em-ope”. The survey reaffirms that to move the boundary markers of one’s neighbors is an act of exploitative greed and social injustice. More importantly it is an act violating the covenant relationship between YHWH and Israel.
Chapter III investigates the prohibition against moving boundary markers in Deut. 19:14 in its larger and immediate context. It highlights the biblical concept that to move the boundary markers of ones’ neighbor is to rob their economic capability; depriving them of their source of wealth and the source of equal relations and freedom. It is a grave offense and a selfish act of social injustice. It is an act violating the neighbor’s right to the covenant relationship with YHWH. To move boundary markers is tantamount to killing and a crime of murder.
Chapter IV presents the profile of the Banwaon’s and their present context of being displaced and dispossessed from their ancestral domain. The chapter also presents the Banwaon’s concept of land and the program and ministry of the RGS–Tribal Filipino Ministry as well as the significance and implications of the biblical text prohibiting the act of moving boundary markers in the ministry among the indigenous peoples. To defend the rights of the IPs to their ancestral domain is not an act of rebellion but an act deeply rooted in biblical heritage. It is living out fully the biblical challenges to a life of justice and equality.
Chapter V forms the summary and conclusion. It gives the findings and the recommendations based on the results of the study.
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