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Thus, worldview-beliefs play an important role here. Villages used three parameters: the degree of horizon separation, the applicability of the text in the horizon of the reader, and the preference for a horizon of the author, the text or the reader. Generally, lay people tend to a preference of the horizon of the reader; but more can be said. More education lead to a higher preference of the horizon of the author, not so much to an increase of horizon separation.

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Separation is more influenced by beliefs about literalism and supernaturalism. Education often leads to a loss of a first naivety, enlarging the otherness of the text and creating critical distance. Literalism especially led to a preference of the horizon of the text, and not so much to a higher degree of application. Non-literalists preferred the horizon of the author, because the text seemed to be too strange.

Ordinary Theology

Application reached the highest level, is readers expected that the same could happen today, in the case of Mark 9 that God could do miracles today. Membership of a churchly healing team was correlated positively with application. Familiarity with the text also leads to less horizon separation. This shows that a first reading demands more time for orientation in front of the text.

In this research about reading texts, especially the preferred mode of perceiving sensing S or intuition N and the preferred mode of judging feeling F or thinking T were important. Other differences more can be explained by individual differences. Furthermore, feeling at home in a church, agreement with the way of reading and with the teaching in that church, are correlated.

Hence, it is impossible to compare in this project Christian, Anglican believers with non-Christians or not-church going believers. What Village does show, is that congregations are by no means uniform communities. Charismatic belief is correlated positively with literalism, the frequency of Bible reading, belief in supernatural healing, and a conservative attitude towards morality. Conservatism and charismatic beliefs have different predictors, so they are not necessarily connected. It is important to note that charismatics in the Anglican church especially have an evangelical background.

As a result, for them rational reading of Scripture plays a primary role, the experience with the Spirit is secondary. However, this probably is caused by the text passage about a miraculous healing, Mark 9.

Connected with this passage, charismatic experience seems to be important. In the margin, Village notes that experiences with epilepsy had a complicating effect. This shows the ambivalence of experience. Unfortunately, Village did not investigate the effect of negative experiences on reading the Bible. A passage dealing with gender-relevant themes likely would show the importance of other experiences, connected with gender and sex, and more emphatically gender-related negative experiences. Rogers, a British evangelical, did participatory ethnographic research in two independent evangelical congregations in London.

However, in this paper, I am primarily interested in the descriptive part of his project: how do Christians actually read the Bible in churches? Rogers sees the complexity of hermeneutical practices with a variety of mediators like sermons, housegroups, motto text cards, songs, prayers, Christian publications and events.

Within this complexity, he sees three key settings for the use of the Bible, public, small group and personal. Village, The Bible and Lay People, Rogers emphasizes that it is important to relate to this tradition in a self- conscious manner: the congregation has to appreciate its own localization and value it self-critically.

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That our reading is ruled, is an important aspect of the encounter with scripture in the church. In the two congregations, Scripture was used in public sermons, songs, bible display, in liturgy , in small groups, and in personal readings quiet time. These reading strategies remained often implicit and every practice had its own dynamic. In these hermeneutical practices taken together, congregations have their own hermeneutical tradition.

This influenced their way of dealing with differences of interpretation the idea of indeterminacy, in Rogers terms. This epistemological difference is typical of two groups of evangelicals: a position of common sense rationalism with an emphasis on inerrancy and certainty, and a more postmodern, critical realist position seeing Scripture as authoritative and trustworthy. Rogers signals the international influence of songwriters and best-selling authors. In a polarized world, reflection on the tension between affirmation and disruption is important.

Too much affirmation and homogeneity leads to a rigid tradition that loses its vitality, too much disruption and heterogeneity leads to loss of stability in a tradition and an undervaluing of the Bible. Scripture needs a healthy tradition that is both stable and dynamic. Reflections Looking back, the Dutch situation shows the plurality of Bible-readers, the influence of secularization and the decline of the culture and praxis of Bible-reading, still the presence of a longing for the Bible with its strangeness and otherness that opens up a new and unknown world, and the necessity of a community where one can learn to read the Bible.

The two British investigations focused on various items: Village on ordinary readers, and 1. Biblical literalism; 3. Rogers aims to find hermeneutical virtues and focusses on tradition, practices, epistemology and mediation. Which significant insights can be learned from these investigations into the practice of the church as a community hearing and reading Scripture, to understand the calling of the church as a community obedient to the Word of God? A first important conclusion is that congregations in real life function as hermeneutical community.

The consulted studies did not work with a control group outside the Christian community, but it is reasonable to expect that the use of such a control group would clearly support this conclusion. Congregational life might be as ambivalent as the reality of the church is, active participation in a congregation and active engagement with the Bible helps to understand the Bible as the Word of God. For more detailed reflections, I will approach the hermeneutical field via the actors active in this field and I will take Scripture as one of these actors.

Both the Word and the transforming work of the Spirit are important for theological hermeneutics. This is 45 Rogers, Congregational Hermeneutics, Village showed how important the plausibility of a Christian worldview is for understanding the Bible.

These are shaped by personal formation and experience, but also by tradition and congregation. As far as experience is concerned, it is likely that positive experiences with listening to Scripture and God making use of Scripture, speaking his Word to us, will influence the reading of the Bible in positive way. Clear differences in beliefs about the Bible exist between liberal and conservative or radical Christians. With regard to the Bible, Reformed and evangelical Christians differ significantly from Roman- and Anglo-catholic Christians.

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Polarization is a danger here. The growing significance of synchronic approaches of the Bible in theological education is helpful as well. We all can search for the meaning of the world of the text. Moreover, we have the world behind the text only in a variety of historical reconstructions, based on the text. Thus, they have a secondary character. This focus on the world of the text might help readers to find the second naivety that is so necessary according to Village.

Such a tradition of reading the Bible implies views of Scripture, attitudes, hermeneutical virtues, practices and behaviour. To be part of such a congregation and such a tradition, will have a formative effect, be it positive or negative. In the here and now, a congregation consists of a variety of people, participating in a variety of practices, where some people have special mediatory roles and where various mediators are used.

In a congregation, we find a culture of reading, teaching and guidance, but this can be also a catechetical culture in decline. The variety of people, practices, and mediation leads to a mixed community, leading to the tension between heterogeneity and homogeneity. Community can be an excuse for a hermeneutical free for all or for authoritarian policing of congregational boundaries. They strive for a healthy dynamic of word and spirit, of affirmation and disruption. Theories, Concepts, Practices. However, at several moments the analyses of Village and Rogers imply that persons play an important role in processes of mediation, and of formation both of persons and communities.

Selected pages Table of Contents. Contents List of Figures. Biblical Studies in Academy and Church. The Bible and Ordinary Readers. Biblical Literalism and Ordinary Readers. Biblical Interpretative Horizons.

Works under MDS 259.41

Personality and Scripture. Interpretative Communities and Scripture. The Holy Spirit and Biblical Interpretation.


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Towards an Empirical Theology of Scripture. Bibliographic information.