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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.

“This is a book that should draw the attention of theologians, church leaders, and pastoral workers engaged in youth ministry. By carefully focusing on the experiences of the worldwide adolescent participants (whose spirituality and spiritual growth are not the easiest upon which to reflect), this work shows that the Bible is not a closed, old-fashioned, or outdated book, but that it has the ability to stir up deep-rooted questions about identity and life—and in so doing makes it clear how important it is for theologians to be present with ordinary readers.”—Emeritus Professor Doctor Hans de Wit, Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

"In the current research interest for popular interpretation of the Bible, there is an increasing focus on intercultural perspectives and experiences. A number of critical essays and anthologies have been published in the last fifteen years. However, there are few of the more thorough monograph genre, allowing the reader to follow the interpretive analysis in detail and with due attention to theoretical questions. Taggert E. Wolverton’s monograph is therefore a most welcome contribution, providing the guild with a wealth of interesting reflection."—Professor Knut Holter, VID Specialized University, Stavanger, Norway