Understanding and using the Bible in different contexts

SPCK sent through a review copy today of a very interesting looking book called Understanding and Using the Bible, edited by Chris Wright and Jonathan Lamb (both of Langham Partnership International). It is part of the SPCK International Study Guide Series.

About the series, Rene Padilla comments:

‘To be relevant to life, theology must be contextual. The International Study Guides are a tremendous help to people. They broaden their concept of the mission of the Church and their Christian responsibility.’

The contributors to Understanding and Using the Bible represent a variety of cultural contexts including the UK, Latin America, South and South East Asia, and Africa. Here are the blurb and contents:

The Bible claims to be, and the Church confesses it to be, the word of God, but what does this mean? Understanding and Using the Bible encourages you to take the Bible seriously, whether you are a student, pastor, lay leader or just an ‘ordinary’ believer. Packed with wisdom and examples from around the world, this helpful book shows how the Bible is being used creatively to transform lives – and how simple techniques of Bible study and exploration can be employed across countries and cultures.

The book is in two parts. Part One explores key Christian belief about the Bible and why it matters; encourages effective use and application of the Bible in different cultural and social contexts; teaches on right and wrong use of the Bible; models different possible ways of approaching and using the Bible with integrity; encourages readers to take the Bible as a whole and build a biblical worldview.

Part Two, Using the Bible, illustrates examples of applied Bible use in different contexts with contributions from a variety of authors.

Table of contents:

Part 1  Understanding the Bible
1. Understanding the Bible as the word of God – Christopher J.H. Wright
2. Understanding the Bible as the words of human authors – Christopher J.H. Wright
3. Understanding the Bible as a whole – Christopher J.H. Wright
Selected reading

Part 2  Using the Bible
4. Using the Bible devotionally for life – Jonathan Lamb
5. Using the Bible in evangelism – Ajith Fernando
6. Using the Bible in groups – Catherine Padilla
7. Using the Bible in the context of Islam – Ida Glaser
8. Using the Bible in oral cultures – Steve Evans
9. Using the Bible with women – Emily Onyango
10. Using the Bible in the family as a guide for life – Anthony and King Lang Loke
11. Using the Bible in preaching – Jonathan Lamb

Storytelling the gospel

How do you engage people with the Bible when they live in an oral culture? The whole area of literacy, oral culture, Bible translation and ‘storying’ is a crucial one in mission today. After all, as Grant Lovejoy of SIL puts it:

Does the spread of the Gospel depend on literacy? Jesus Christ is the eternal and living Word, after all, as John declares (John 1:1). The timeless message of His saving grace is proclaimed from one generation to the next in the Bible, the written Word of God. Are those who cannot—or will not—read the Word on the printed page essentially cut off from the Good News of salvation?

For one resource, have a look at the Jan/Feb 2008 edition of Momentum, which looks at the whole issue from a variety of perspectives:

Here is the contents

The Gospel’s advance can’t wait for literacy by Grant Lovejoy
Storytelling: frequently asked questions by Karl J. Franklin
A case for the longer-term use of storying by Roy Sloane
Storytelling among the Kao Bu by Tai Kadai
Doing something different by Steve Douglass
Oral approaches to augment a Bible translation process by Jim Stahl
Orality and translation: focusing on images rather than words by Janet Stahl
My journey into the world of narrative by Larry Dinkins

There is also a very helpful page on resources, both in electronic and book form.