Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretation Groups: Contextual Voices and Contextual Realities as Sites of Interpretative Expertise

In: Biblical Interpretation and African Traditional Religion


The rationale behind the novel methodological approach is presented to the reader. The necessity to draw a distinction between the method and that of CBS is expounded: this is a non-confessional approach that is not liberationist in its aim. However, like, CBS, it is both dialogical and contextual. CCBIGs focus squarely on non-normative biblical interpretation and the benefits offered by interpreting with grassroots groups of men, women and children in cross-cultural settings. Groups are convened along axes of gender and seniority in order to facilitate the most open dialogue channels possible and to examine the particular interpretative concerns of each demographic. The chapter outlines the benefits of CBS that the method draws upon, whilst highlighting the distinctions in approach. It then gives a brief overview of the crisis of representation and reflexive turn in anthropology (influenced by, for example: Fischer & Marcus 1986; Clifford & Marcus 1986) and outlines the ways in which, and reasons why, the CCBIG method employs ethnographic study and fieldwork. The focus is on the reflexive benefits engendered by the scholar seeking out a cross-cultural encounter (‘culture shock’ acting positively to encourage one to look afresh at the texts and one’s own contextuality). The cultural context is valued as a site of expertise. It is argued that the grassroots participants’ original interpretative insights positively disrupt and nuance mainstream professional biblical scholarship, the latter being heavily inflected by Eurocentricism and a post-Enlightenment ‘rationalist’, demythologised bias.