Contextual Biblical Interpretation

Reading for Real
Millions of people read the Bible every day, in hundreds of languages and versions, and every one of them interprets it in their own way. For some, every verse is to be taken literally; others draw their inspiration more selectively and figuratively. How each of us experiences the Bible may be influenced as much by who and where we are as by our own view of faith and religious observance.
Course levelMaster/PhD
Recommended course combinationBlock 1: Hands-on Anthropology and Collaborative Storytelling in Amsterdam, Doing Research with Discourse Analysis
Block 3: Responsible Research and Innovation Boot Camp, The Gentle Art of Helping
Block 2
22 July to 5 August 2017
Co-ordinating lecturerProf. Peter-Ben Smit
Other lecturersProf. Klaas Spronk, Rev. Willemien van Berkum, Rev. Inge Landman
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, interactive seminars, excursions
Form(s) of assessmentClassroom participation, presentations, paper
ECTS        3 credits, or 5-6 credits with additional research paper
Contact hours45
Tuition fee€1150
Anyone interested in the interpretation and use of the Bible as a key religious and cultural work, including academics, teachers of religion and religious professionals, lay or ordained (the course is accredited as continuing education for religious professionals).  If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Students who are in their final year of bachelors studies or have obtained a full bachelors degree are able to register for this course. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students with a wide variety of backgrounds.
A Bachelor or Master degree in Theology or a related discipline. Exemptions may be granted for motivated non-graduates with a relevant academic track record.
In this course you explore the many different ways the Bible is studied and understood, and how they come about. Theories abound as to how Scripture should be read, but what actually happens when people engage with it “for real”? What does biblical reception really entail?

Drawing upon cutting-edge research into contextual and empirical hermeneutics, topics covered include the use of the Bible in theological education, different approaches to its interpretation (contextual, canonical, historical-critical) and the “South-to-North” transfer of contextual hermeneutics. 

Case studies look at how the Bible is read in such contexts as Israel/Palestine and amongst the indigenous peoples of Latin America. On our own doorstep, the multicultural, multi-ethnic, multifaith city of Amsterdam provides unrivalled opportunities to investigate how different communities and congregations, from traditional churches to pioneering urban missions, interact with “the Word”.

•    You expand and deepen your knowledge of both scriptural interpretation and the sociology of literature in general.
•    You gain state-of-the-art knowledge of the theory of contextual biblical interpretation.
•    You understand how contextually aware interpretations of Scripture contribute to ecclesiastical and societal transformations.
•    You are familiar with the praxis of contextual biblical interpretation in the cosmopolitan city of Amsterdam.
•    You can analyse the methodologies and practices of contextual biblical interpretation using the tools of empirical hermeneutics.
•    You are equipped to integrate these insights and skills into your own theological reflection and/or ministerial or academic practice.
Visits to Netherlands Bible Society in Haarlem, to an Amsterdam church for Sunday-morning worship and to local groups which are studying the Bible in new and creative settings.
Facebook-icoon   linkedin-icoon   Instagram-icoon
;