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Title: Promoting Biblical engagement among ordinary Christians in English churches : reflections on the Pathfinder project
Author: Hunt, Isabel Cherryl
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis contributes towards understanding of how ‘ordinary’ Christians, who have little or no experience of academic biblical study or theological training, might be enabled to engage more deeply with the Bible. I propose that attempts to cultivate the skills of biblical engagement among ordinary Christians might be shaped around lectio divina, this ancient practice being adapted for the situation of contemporary readers. The adaptations would involve use of a range of modern media with which to encounter the texts, working in small groups in order to make space for a more intentional engagement between the voices of multiple ordinary interpreters, and employment of strategies to enable readers to navigate a perceived tension when approaching the Bible: one between head and heart, academic learning and spiritual growth. More specifically, I propose that the promotion of biblical engagement among ordinary Christians should be undertaken as a planned programme with a suite of different resources, which complement one another in both style and aim, together with a sign-posted framework to show participants what each stage is designed to achieve. It should begin with a widely accessible introduction to the whole Bible that conveys the overall narrative and historical setting while communicating the sense that the reader is a participant in the ongoing biblical story. This and subsequent resources should be selected in order to attempt to integrate cognitive and emotive approaches to the texts and, where possible, straightforward terminology would be employed to maximise accessibility. These proposals emerged from my evaluation of an experiment in promoting biblical engagement among ordinary Christians (Bible Society’s ‘Pathfinder’). Analysis of, and reflection upon, the rich qualitative data generated there led to my examining the process of developing biblical engagement in the context of the lectio divina tradition and in the light of contemporary theological reflection across a wide range of theological hermeneutics.
Supervisor: Lawrence, Louise ; Higton, Mike Sponsor: Bible Society ; St Luke's College Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: audio-Bible ; Bible on film ; Bible-reading ; hermeneutics ; lay education ; lectio divina ; ordinary Christians ; ordinary theology ; small groups