A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Five Months Into My Project

When I started my website and blog, it was to help launch a larger project— one originally called The Bible for Book Clubs and now Reading the Bible as an Adult. My hope was that addressing diverse topics on the blog would attract people to the site; once there, they would then learn about my project of reading the Bible as literature that engages life questions. Now, five months into the process, foreground and background are shifting.

I’m realizing that the format of the blog is much more accessible than that of the project.  I thought that the structured format of Reading the Bible as an Adult would be its strength– modelling for groups a way to read biblical narratives as stories and talk about them alongside participants’ lives.  But a colleague helped me see that the structure also limits the project’s appeal:  not many people outside of churches (or in them) belong to such dedicated groups. It’s also a lot harder than I thought to convince the non-religious as well as the religious that the Bible offers anything other than life instructions or fodder for conspiracy theories.

I haven’t given up on the Reading the Bible as an Adult project, but I’m realizing that my blog is more likely to generate discussion. So, for now, I’m shifting more of my energy for the Bible as literature to the blog.  In posts to come, I’ll share my own experience of how engaging biblical texts (especially in light of their ideological dimensions) provides provocative perspectives from which to look at life and culture(s).   I invite others to do the same.

For the first few of these posts, I’ll bring over some of the reflections from the project, rewritten in a more blog-gy style. If you want the more structured, group-oriented version, check it out.

6 Responses to Five Months Into My Project

  • I do hope you continue working on the project, Reading the Bible as and Adult.

    My wife attends the Ladies bible class at our church for a number of reasons, none of which include it being a “bible class.” A little background info: for non-theological reasons, we attend theologically conservative churches where women are “to keep silent . . . ” Aside from the general biblical ignorance that plagues the conservative circles of our faith tradition, I believe our women are particularly illiterate when it comes to the Bible. I attribute this illiteracy by and large to our complementarian approach to theology/religion.

    When these women claim to engage in “bible study,” it means they are going to either read a book written by women about women (i.e. Bad Girls of the Bible; Lies Women Believe) or use some other “Bible class” material developed by women catered to the “concerns” of women (i.e. a ladies day themed “Clean House,” metaphorically understood to be the house of one’s life). My wife found this latter theme particularly insulting to women. I agree.

    While I believe there are real feminine concerns that need to be met in our churches (why else would my wife continue to attend ladies classes that are otherwise insulting?), I do not believe those concerns are being met in a way that seriously engages their assumed purpose, Bible study. But your project, while it is not necessarily catered to the particular needs of women, is real Bible study that is written from a female’s perspective. I hope that in the future, I can encourage women (and the men!) in our tradition to give Lifeway a quarter off and consult Reading the Bible as an Adult.

    Thank you for your excellent blog and for Reading the Bible as an Adult.

  • Joseph,
    Thank you for your encouraging comments.
    I share your belief that much adult Bible curriculum insults people’s intelligence and is demeaning to their lives. I’d appreciate any suggestions you have about how I can share this more widely.

  • I both agree with, and wonder about, what you have written. I agree that a blog is much more likely to generate discussion. But wonder if that is partly because blogs attract people who already largely agree with you. I get a regular (small but significant) stream of downloads of my 5 Minute Bible podcasts, they do not get “discussed” (even as much as my blog posts which themselves generate far less discussion than a few years ago), but I do get the occasional email from someone who has found they offer a more solid and serious look at the Bible than they were finding locally. I think they are worth doing for the nourishment they provide for those people… How many visitors is RTBAA getting? Is feeding that many worthwhile?

  • PS, I am looking at experimenting with a different format which allows paragraph level commenting for a book I am working on, in the hopes it may generate users like the podcasts, who discuss… the experimental site is at http://motherfather.digress.it/ the material may be moved as I have little control over the layout there, but it may give an idea of hos the system works.

  • Tim, thanks for your encouragement. I did look at the paragraph-level commenting feature. That’s interesting. I may talk to you more about it.

    The “Getting Started” page has gotten more hits than the individual sessions (700 vs 380, since April) which doesn’t seem like a good omen.

  • Tim, the other aspect of this is that there’s an existing network of blogs, whereas a different kind of project can get lost on the website. One person suggested that I have a different site for the Reading the Bible as an Adult project. Do you have any thoughts about that?

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