Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Jean-François Racine


The homily of Saint Paul VI on “the Symposium Organized by the Bishops of Africa” encouraged Malagasy researchers to discover a local reinterpretation of Christianity. However, the Betsimisarakan community still struggles to present an authentic native evangelical message, one that primarily relates to healing. The goal of this thesis is to present Jesus as a healer based on the Gospel of Luke through an indigenous, Betsimisarakan local traditional lens.

To this end, I begin this thesis with a historical overview of the Betsimisarakan confederation in chapter one, leading to the need for a deeper understanding of its culture, the concept of God, the social structure, and the concept of disease that are essential to offer a local interpretation. This study pays particular attention to the narrative critiques of three passages from the Gospel of Luke, namely the resurrection of the widow’s son at Nain (7:11-17), the healing of the multitude (7:18 -23), and the calming of the storm (8:22-25).

A contextual analysis of the three values of Betsimisarakan culture follows as corollaries to each of these gospel narratives. These are the notion of life presented in chapter two, the community, analyzed in chapter three, and the local environment in chapter four. My interpretation of the Gospel through a native lens concludes that Betsimisarakans, through a symbolic reading, perceive that Jesus resides in the heart of their traditional culture, reveals himself as protector of life, healer of society, and is a symbol of the natural environmental world of Betsimisaraka.

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