An explorative study of children's critical and theological ability to engage with the Bible, using a contextual Bible study, on the Widow's offering in Mark 12 as a case study
Author: Alice Kathleen Fabian
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg - MTh thesis (2012)

Abstract:
The flat narratives presented in Children’s Bibles typify the assumption that children are incapable of engaging theologically and critically with the Biblical texts. The manner in which Biblical stories are told to children during their formative years can have negative repercussions as children perceive the Scriptures as static and irrelevant. By denying children the chance to explore the dynamic text, they will never discover the depth and potential of the life-giving message of the Bible and can become despondent with Christianity, perceiving it as immaterial as the Biblical narratives show no resemblance to reality. Developing a habit of blindly accepting Christian teachings can also develop a faith which allows unhealthy indoctrination and oppressive beliefs into the Christian’s life.

This thesis explores what is necessary to enable and encourage children to critically and theologically engage with the Bible. Using the story of the Widow’s Offering in Mark 12 as an example, the traditional readings present in Children’s Bibles were compared to a critical reading of the text. A Contextual Bible Study was then conducted with two case studies from grade 1 and 4 at Scottsville Primary in order to determine whether children are able to critically and theologically engage with the concepts of Christian Humanism and textual criticism. The findings reveal that this is an important area of research that requires urgent further investigation.

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