Making a Biblical Studies programme missional, part 3

This is the third in a series of posts exploring the Biblical Studies side of the new curriculum at Redcliffe College. Specifically, I’m aiming to inform and excite you about the way we are trying to make our teaching of Biblical Studies a thoroughly missional activity. Check out part 1 and part 2 of the series for an overview and introduction.

Having established a missional approach to the Bible and a foundational survey of the books of the Old and New Testaments in the first year, we then focus on some key texts in year two. By this stage we want students to be deepening their understanding of the content, interpretation and application of biblical texts.

As well as a biblical language, students have the option to take the following modules:

Missional texts: Psalms and Genesis 1-11

The module aims to enable students to analyse important aspects of these two key Old Testament texts and consider how they relate to the thinking and practice of the church’s involvement in the mission of God.

This module covers:

  1. The function of the book of Psalms and Genesis 1-11 as part of a missional reading of the Bible;
  2. Key issues in understanding and interpreting Psalms and Genesis 1-11, including historical and cultural contexts, genre, structure, literary features and theological themes;
  3. Case-studies in exegeting Psalms and passages from Genesis 1-11;
  4. The contemporary application of Psalms and Genesis 1-11, especially in relation to the thinking and practice of mission.
For me, it is so important that students leave Redcliffe equipped with the Psalms. More than any other part of Scripture, the Psalms articulate life and give us a liturgy for all the experiences we may go through. We encourage the students to pray through the Psalms – a habit I hope they will adopt, enjoy and be shaped by. There are also some important and intriguing missiological questions in the Psalms, not least the role of the nations and the great eschatological visions of nations gladly worshipping the LORD.
Genesis 1-11 has often been treated as the background to God’s mission. In this module we explore the content of the text in depth and try to see how it can function missionally.

Missional Texts: Luke and Acts

The module aims to enable students to analyse important aspects of Luke’s contribution to the New Testament and consider how it relates to the thinking and practice of the church’s involvement in the mission of God.

This module covers:

1. The function of Luke-Acts as part of a missional reading of the Bible;

2. Key issues in understanding and interpreting Luke-Acts, including historical and cultural contexts, genre, structure, literary features and theological themes;

3. Case-studies in exegeting passages from Luke-Acts;

4. The contemporary application of Luke-Acts, especially in relation to the thinking and practice of mission.
The language of the descriptor is clearly very similar to the Psalms and Genesis 1-11 module. Luke and Acts was an obvious choice in that it spans at least two different genre, and is often referred to in the literature on mission.
Finally, in addition to these book-specific modules, we offer a hermeneutics module:
Interpreting the Bible in Intercultural Contexts

The module aims to enable students to analyse important aspects of historical and contemporary interpretation of the Bible, and consider biblical hermeneutics in relation to a variety of Western and non-Western cultural contexts.

This module covers:

1. Key periods and events in the history of Biblical interpretation (e.g. Jewish, early Christian, and Medieval exegesis; the hermeneutical impact of the Reformation and of the Enlightenment;

2. Major topics in contemporary hermeneutics (e.g. literary approaches and  the role of the reader;

3. Biblical interpretation in different cultural contexts (e.g. Latin American, Asian and African);

This is an opportunity for students to look at the bigger picture of biblical interpretation, but also explore issues of intercultural reading and contextualisation.

So, by the end of the second of their three-year bachelor’s degree in Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts, students are delving deeply into some crucial biblical texts and becoming more sensitive and globally aware interpreters. Stay tuned for the final year…

Making a Biblical Studies programme missional, part 2

Redcliffe's web page for the BA(Hons) Degree in Applied Theology in Intercultural ContextsThis is the second in a series of posts exploring the Biblical Studies side of the new curriculum at Redcliffe College. Specifically, I’m aiming to inform and excite you about the way we are trying to make our teaching of Biblical Studies a thoroughly missional activity. Check out part 1 of the series for an overview and introduction.

The first thing to say is that we no longer have a module entitled, A Biblical Basis of Mission.

Yes, you heard me right! Traditionally, Bible Colleges have run courses in the Biblical Studies department called something like, Introduction to the Old Testament / Introduction to the New Testament, and then the Missiology/Theology department might have a module on a Biblical Basis of Mission.

But should these really be separated?

If, as I have contended on numerous occasions in this blog, the Bible is thoroughly missional, should not an overview course of the Bible take account of its missional character in a fully integrated way?

More than this, I would suggest that running separate modules is communicating something rather unhelpful to students; that you can have an introduction to the Bible separate to an introduction to Biblical mission.

So we now have modules in the first year called ‘A missional introduction to the Old Testament’ and ‘A missional approach to the New Testament’. These courses orient students both to the the context, content and contemporary significance of the books of the Bible, but also look at how the Bible is a product, record and tool of mission. This approach is an attempt to bridge the disciplines of Biblical Studies and Missiology. It also means that a students gain a solid foundation in the content, interpretation and missional nature of the Bible, and a thorough basis for understanding the church’s missionary identity and task.

To flesh this out in more detail, here is some course info.

In the first year students take two compulsory Bible-focused modules (though they can do a biblical language as well):

  • A missional introduction to the Old Testament
The module aims to introduce students to the background, content, interpretation and contemporary relevance of the books of the Old Testament. Questions relating to the thinking and practice of mission will be asked throughout.
This module covers:
1. An introduction to the missional nature of the Bible, particularly in relation to the texts of the Old Testament;
2. An overview of the books of the Old Testament accounting for issues such as historical context, genre, structure, contents, main themes, interpretation and application;
3. An exploration of the significance of Old Testament texts for the thinking and practice of mission.
  • A missional introduction to the New Testament
The module aims to introduce students to the background, content, interpretation and contemporary relevance of the books of the New Testament. Questions relating to the thinking and practice of mission will be asked throughout.
This module covers:
1. An introduction to the missional nature of the Bible, particularly in relation to the texts of the New Testament;
2. An overview of the books of the New Testament accounting for issues such as historical context, genre, structure, contents, main themes, interpretation and application;
3. An exploration of the significance of New Testament texts for the thinking and practice of mission.
Having build a solid foundation for Bible and Mission, the challenge for the second year is to see how that works when looking at particular texts in more depth. Next up, Missional texts: Psalms and Genesis 1-11; Missional texts: Luke and Acts; and Interpreting the Bible in intercultural contexts.

Making a Biblical Studies programme missional, part 1

Redcliffe's web page for the BA(Hons) Degree in Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts

This post is the first in a series that I hope will inform and excite you about the way in which we have sought at Redcliffe to make our teaching of Biblical Studies a thoroughly missional activity.

Today I will give a broad introduction while subsequent posts will unpack what we are doing at each stage of the degree programme.

The world is changing fast so we need to constantly develop our training to meet the increasing complexities and new challenges and opportunities of mission. To that end, over the last few months at Redcliffe we have been working hard on a revamp of our entire undergraduate Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts programmes.

One of my challenges as the main lecturer in Biblical Studies has been to see how the Bible-focused modules can reflect recent developments in the area of Bible and mission. Specifically, we have been more intentional about integrating (1) the missional interpretation of the Bible, and (2) the growth in Scripture Engagement across the curriculum. This reflects the values of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission where we look at both mission in the Bible/the missional nature of the Bible, and the Bible in mission.

In addition to Greek and Hebrew, these are the Bible-focused modules students can now do (It is worth noting that these modules are just one part of the overall training, so there are plenty of other modules students can do as well. And, of course, there is biblical input into other modules too).

First year
A missional introduction to the Old Testament
A missional introduction to the New Testament

Second year
Missional texts: Psalms and Genesis 1-11
Missional texts: Luke and Acts
Interpreting the Bible in intercultural contexts

Third year
Missional texts: Isaiah
Story, song and social network: Bible engagement and oral culture

One of the most interesting discussions and decisions is to drop the module we have traditionally taught called ‘A Biblical Basis for Mission’. I’ll explain more about that in my next post! If you can’t wait until then, drop a comment in the box below to suggest why we might have done that…

Bible and Mission in Edinburgh 2010 Fresh Perspectives on Christian Mission

The Centre has contributed to a newly published book Edinburgh 2010: Fresh Perspectives on Christian Mission. The volume is edited by Kenneth Ross and develops the seven ‘transversal’ themes of the Edinburgh 2010 conference with case studies and vignettes (the themes being: One Church, Many Contexts; Bible and Mission; Women and Mission; Youth and Mission; The View from the Margins; Ecological Perspectives; and Reconcilion and Healing).

My contribution is a short case study on ‘Teaching the Bible and Mission’ in which I give three snapshots from some lectures at Redcliffe. The material is based on blog posts on the Slave girl in 2 Kings 5; the wonderful passage Deut. 10:12-22; and Mark’s gospel.

Here’s the introductory paragraph from the Bible and Mission chapter and a breakdown of the chapter’s contents:

The Christian faith has a foundational text: the Bible. The reading, interpreting and dissemination of this text lie at the core of the missionary task. In this chapter a number of contributors reflect on aspects of the interplay between Bible and mission.

The Role of the Bible Societies in Christian Mission – Fergus Macdonald and Bill Mitchell
Richness in the Biblical Witness – Daniel Patte
Creative Tensions in the Biblical Witness – Marie-Hélène Robert and Jacques Matthey
Teaching Bible and Mission – Tim Davy
The Bible: The Source of Life and Soul of Mission – Bill Mitchell