Friday 14 March 2014

The Bible in Transmission (Spring 2014) on the Bible and Spirituality

The latest issue of The Bible in Transmission, from Bible Society, is available online here, offering a collection of articles on ‘The Bible and Spirituality’.

The essays have their origins in work carried out by the Centre for Bible and Spirituality at the University of Gloucestershire, which has already published two significant volumes of essays, both following conferences supported by Bible Society.

I have taken the ‘tasters’ of articles below from the editorial.

Andrew Lincoln sets the scene with a discussion of the nature of spirituality and its relation to biblical study. He shows that spirituality remains a vigorous concept in an age that thinks of itself as post-religious, expressed in a desire for meaning beyond materialism.

Richard Briggs approaches the topic from the point of view of the reader. He proposes a close connection between the character of the reader and their capacity to see what the text may be saying. His perspective on the role of the reader in spiritual reading is closely related to virtues such as wisdom, humility and obedience.

How can a book that has undeniably played a part in Christian spirituality also appear to advocate extremes of violence against ‘the other’? Gordon argues for close attention to the tendency of the text as a whole, its ‘ultimate semantic authority’, coupled with a critical reading of its uses in historical Christian interpretation, and an imaginative re-application of its motif of ‘crossing’ in the light of transformative moves towards reconciliation across the world’s hostile divides.

Dorothy Lee considers what has been called the ‘spiritual Gospel’ of John. She wants Christians to rediscover the resources of the Bible for spiritual experience, asking, ‘what kind of spirituality is the reader invited, through the narrative, to experience?’ Dorothy shows how John’s framework for spirituality consists in the inner relationship of the Triune God, and ‘between the divine Spirit and the human spirit’.

Edith Humphrey... takes John 1.1 as her starting-point, and develops the relational, or corporate, character of Christian spirituality. She highlights the webs of connectedness that compose our identities, though often obscured by modern individualistic assumptions, but always implicit in the biblical texts.

Revelation is prophetic, calling to faithfulness to Christ in contrast to the many powerful alternative bids for the allegiance of God’s people, whether ancient or modern. Faithfulness to Christ is by its character public: worship and spirituality ‘are always and everywhere forms of political activity’. Faithfulness entails witness, both prophetic and ‘evangelical’. The final word of Revelation is one of hope and salvation.

Connecting with Roman Catholic encyclicals, Martin Buber’s notion of ‘I and You’, recent work on dialogue, and a development in social identity theory called ‘psychological group formation’, Philip finds that Paul’s approach to leadership in relation to the Corinthians ‘is based in genuine dialogue and indeed communion between him and the Corinthians’.

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