Despite many churches claiming that the Bible is highly significant for their doctrine and practice, questions about how we read the Bible are rarely made explicit. Based on ethnographic research in English churches, Congregational Hermeneutics explores this dissonance and moves beyond descriptions to propose ways of enriching hermeneutical practices in congregations. Characterised as hermeneutical apprenticeship, this is not just a matter of learning certain skills, but of cultivating hermeneutical virtues such as faithfulness, community, humility, confidence and courage. These virtues are given substance through looking at four broad themes that emerge from the analysis of congregational hermeneutics - tradition, practices, epistemology and mediation. Concluding with what hermeneutical apprenticeship might look like in practice, this book is constructively theological about what churches actually do with the Bible, and will be of interest to scholars, students and practitioners.
Andrew P. Rogers is Principal Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Roehampton where he runs an ecumenical degree programme for students engaged in Christian ministry from across the greater London area. Within the local church, he is involved in preaching and leading small group Bible studies, and has also worked with the British and Foreign Bible Society on a project to enrich the use of the Bible within UK congregations. He is vice-chair of the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology (BIAPT) and co-convenes the Bible and Practical Theology group. Andrew is also the author of Being Built Together (2013), a study of new black majority churches in a London borough, and the lead author of h+ Making Good Sense of the Bible (2011).
"This book breaks new ground in the study of hermeneutics. Andrew Rogers has done the Church an incredible service by lifting the veil on how congregations interact with the bible and make sense of it in their everyday lives. This careful and original piece of research builds towards constructive and creative suggestions to help the Christian community as it reads the bible. It is a must read for anyone interested in qualitative research and the study of the Church." Pete Ward, Professorial Fellow in Ecclesiology and Ethnography, Durham University, UK
"Andrew Rogers has put us in his debt. His clear and very insightful study of congregational hermeneutics has extended our understanding of how Christian communities actually interpret the Bible in practice. His constructive proposal makes a significant contribution to scholarship in the field. Scholars, students and church leaders interested in practical theology and congregational studies should read this book." Mark J. Cartledge, Professor of Practical Theology, Regent University, Virginia, USA
"The Bible becomes Scripture as it is read by the community of faith. In telling the tale of two congregations, Andrew Rogers helps us look again at the traditions, practices and epistemologies we inhabit. This is an important ethnographic study in the borderlands between practical theology, biblical studies and congregational studies. The seasoned minister will find a real stimulus to reflective practice. The student will find much they wish to emulate." Helen Cameron, Ripon College Cuddesdon, UK