Monday, 27 May 2013

Contextual Bible Study

Of course there are many ways in which we may approach the Bible and any or all may contribute to our understanding.  I have been reading John Riches' "What is Contextual Bible Study?" (SPCK, 2010) which offers a particularly Scottish perspective on a methodology really initially developed by Gerald West in South Africa.

Riches points out that "CBS is a method that encourages readers to read the Bible in ways appropriate to their own contexts and which allow them to engage in dialogue with one another to address current concerns in the light of the biblical texts" (p. 3).  It is thus a method that is very focussed on what the Bible is saying to our current situation, seeking to help us to engage with the things that we need to address. 

Because of the emphasis on context it can be interesting to compare notes with a group studying the same passage, but in a very different context.  It is certainly important to recognise that the Bible can speak to different situations.  CBS fails to work if we want to suggest that there is only one way of interpreting a passage - "there must be multiple readings and multiple answers" (p. 9).

CBS is thus an opportunity to listen to what God is saying to us in a particular moment.  "The studies should not start with a set of outcomes, of things that people are expected to learn or 'get', but should rather enable people to engage with the text and understand their own lives in new ways.  This may allow people to appreciate more deeply how God is active in the life of their community" (p. 25).

No comments: