Ways of Engaging with Scripture

DVD with 209 illustrations
Author: Graham Kennedy, Bible illustrator
Published by: Foundation Matters (2013), available from NTM

Created by Bible illustrator Graham Kennedy of Foundation Matters, these new Bible pictures have been chosen to illustrate and complement the stories that are included in New Tribes Mission's Firm Foundations Bible study curriculum. The 209 illustrations cover Bible stories from the Creation in Genesis through the Acts of the Apostles.

A catalogue with a small preview of each the images is available for download from the NTM website.  [more...]

Historical and hermeneutical study of ordinary "readers" transactions with the Bible.
Author: Mote Paulo Magomba
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg - MTh thesis (2004)

Abstract:
This study falls within the area of the Bible in African Christianity, particularly ordinary readers' appropriation of and interpretation of the Bible. It seeks to explore, firstly, the processes of the encounter between the Bible and the indigenous people of Tanzania, specifically the Gogo in central region. Secondly, this thesis seeks to identify some interpretative resources and emerging interpretative practices that have continued into the present of ordinary readers of the Bible.

This exploration is done by tracing the mission activities of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Tanzania, which began in 1844. The work of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) is also examined, particularly the role it has played in making the Book "open" to the indigenous, through translation.

Although there is continuity between past and present readings, this thesis demonstrates that ordinary readings are not static, they are dynamic; and over the years neo-indigenous interpretative moves have emerged which are a combination of both missionary and indigenous interpretative resources and methods. This reality is evident in the contemporary phenomenon of women and youths' songs in central Tanzania. These songs are creative interpretations of the Bible from an ordinary readers' perspective.  [more...]

A Student's Manual for Scripture Use
Author: Edna Headland

Pastors who have studied in a language other than their mother tongue can have difficulty using the local language Scriptures. When they preach, they sometimes borrow words from the language in which they studied, rather than thinking about the word that will communicate best in their local language.

For this reason Bible Institutes, seminaries and churches should encourage those who study the Bible to use the translation in their own language and investigate how important terms were translated.

On completing this 43 lesson course, a speaker with the Scriptures in their own language will be able to:

  • identify how key terms in their language are translated;
  • use the terms when they teach or preach;
  • better understand the doctrine based on or related to the key term;
  • attach greater value to the Scriptures in their language since they know that there are appropriate ways to communicate key terms in their own language and that it may change according to the context;
  • use the Scriptures with more confidence and motivate other people in their ethnic group to do so.

The course is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.  [more...]

Author: Daniel Hames
Published by: UCCF Theology Network

"In the same way that skipping breakfast is more of a missed opportunity than a morally dubious choice; not going to the scriptures for nourishment is not a matter of calling down the anger of God, but of omitting to take advantage of his good gifts to his children."

Daniel Hames writes this article to encourage Christian students to read the Scriptures. We are presented with three reasons why we might give up on reading the Bible: (1) You don't have time; (2) You think the Bible is about you; (3) You think your Bible reading is for God’s benefit.

The author doesn't want us to see Bible reading as a burden, but to recognise that the Bible "has been given to us to help us know and love Christ", that our Father "is generous and loving, and loves to communicate with us" and that "the Spirit has inspired the scriptures so that they bring life, joy, and fullness to the Christian walk."  [more...]

The contextual approach, from the Willowbank Report
Published by: The Lausanne Movement (1978)

From the Willowbank Report: Consultation on Gospel and Culture, under the heading 'Understanding God's Word Today: The Contextual Approach':

Today's readers cannot come to the text in a personal vacuum, and should not try to. Instead, they should come with an awareness of concerns stemming from their cultural background, personal situation, and responsibility to others. These concerns will influence the questions which are put to the Scriptures. What is received back, however, will not be answers only, but more questions. As we address Scripture, Scripture addresses us. We find that our culturally conditioned presuppositions are being challenged and our questions corrected. In fact, we are compelled to reformulate our previous questions and to ask fresh ones. So the living interaction proceeds.

In this process of interaction our knowledge of God and our response to his will are continuously being deepened. The more we come to know him, the greater our responsibility becomes to obey him in our own situation, and the more we respond obediently, the more he makes himself known.

It is this continuous growth in knowledge, love and obedience which is the purpose and profit of the "contextual" approach. Out of the context in which his word was originally given, we hear God speaking to us in our contemporary context, and we find it a transforming experience. This process is a kind of upward spiral in which Scripture remains always central and normative.

  [more...]
Read the Story. Experience the Bible.
Published by: Zondervan / Hodder & Stoughton (2011)

What is 'The Story'? It is both a book and a campaign.

The book is an abridged version of the NIV Bible, arranging the Biblical narrative in chronological order in 31 chapters. Bridging paragraphs with some explanation are included between the selections of Bible text. There are no verse numbers. A few psalms appear in the chapter on David's life, and Proverbs in the chapter on Solomon. Extracts from Paul's letters appear in the chapter of stories from the book of Acts.

As well as the main version of the book designed for adults, there are also versions for teens and for different ages of children (2-5s, 4-8s, 9-12s).

The campaign is a call for churches to take up 'The Story' as a journey through the Bible for all ages - to encourage people to grasp the Bible narrative and how the different parts of the Bible fit together. There are teaching notes for pastors and group leaders as well as video clips. This could be a 31-week series to go through the whole Story, or churches could adapt parts of it according to their needs.

One of the challenges of producing an abridged Bible is to know which passages to include and which to leave out. Not everyone will agree on the choices made. For example, The Story misses out the Tower of Babel. It would be interesting to compare different panoramic/abridged Bible products as to the decisions they have made.  [more...]

How To Get Your Entire Church Reading and Enjoying God's Word
Author: Whitney T. Kuniholm
Published by: Scripture Union USA (2012)

"So a bigger vision of Bible engagement is not just that more individual Christians will form a Bible reading habit. That’s a critical first step. A bigger vision is that more groups of Christians, of all denominations, will begin reading and living God’s Word together, and as a result, the Church will be renewed and relevant for a new generation."

Reflecting on what he's learned from the E100 programme, SU President Whitney Kuniholm, asks "How can you get 'average Christians' to start and maintain a regular Bible reading habit?"

He suggests seven key elements, 'the essential architecture', to pastors and church leaders:

  1. Take Spiritual Leadership
  2. Make it a community experience
  3. Use habit-formation principles
  4. Affirm a variety of devotional methods
  5. Have a flexible format
  6. Follow a unifying theme
  7. Offer a follow-up plan…from the beginning

In conclusion, the author observes that: "When people begin reading and applying God’s Word together, a spiritual power is unleashed that can dramatically transform individual lives and entire churches."  [more...]