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An Intimate Revelation

Intercultural Bible Reading with Adolescents

Taggert E. Wolverton

An Intimate Revelation chronicles an unprecedented multi-year research project that investigated what happens when adolescents from around the world read and discuss Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son together. The study gathered together adolescent participants, pastoral leaders, and theologians from several countries to read in conversational communities, and these groups then exchanged their interpretations with each other across cultural and religious distinctions. The result is a helpful step forward in understanding how adolescents make meaning when they read the Bible and how the intercultural reading process can spur participants toward spiritual growth.

The book begins by presenting thorough explanations of the foundational concepts of the project before then focusing on each of the groups’ specific experiences through a close examination of their transcripts and written materials. With that foundation laid, a critical analysis of the material investigates signs of spiritual growth as well as the adolescent participants’ ability to function in the process of intercultural communication. The participants’ hermeneutical interpretive grids are presented along with evidence of their ability to create theological applications, and finally the process of intercultural Bible reading is itself compared to the characteristics of effective youth ministry as a hopeful ally in the development of the next generation’s spirituality.

As a report on the only study of its kind to empirically observe adolescent Bible readers participating in an intercultural reading process, these pages offer insight and motivation to pastoral leaders, theologians, and anyone else questioning how to connect this globally aware generation to a vibrant faith.

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Introduction

Extract



In the final book of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, three of the Pevensie children (Peter, Edmund, and Lucy) find that, after walking through a door, the Narnia they are familiar with has been replaced with another Narnia. This new Narnia, although reminiscent of the old Narnia, seems to be in a process of continual rebirth as they run further up and further in to explore. The children have trouble understanding exactly what is happening until Mr. Tumnus, the faun, tells Lucy, “The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.” After taking a long look around, she begins to put it into words for herself;

“I see,” she said. “This is still Narnia, and more real and more beautiful than the Narnia down below, just as it was more real and more beautiful than the Narnia outside the stable door! I see … world within world, Narnia within Narnia …”

“Yes,” said Mr. Tumnus, “like an onion: except that as you continue to go in and in, each circle is larger than the last.”1

Although one could never claim that Lewis’ intent was to apply this metaphor to the realm of Biblical interpretation, it does seem to be especially apropos for this area of theological reflection in particular. The Bible is a text that ←ix | x→generates an amazingly diverse number of interpretations, and the more questions one...

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