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Word and spirit: reading stance and selected emerging-adult reader attributions of experience of God in church-situated readings of the Bible

Jennings, Michael (2011) Word and spirit: reading stance and selected emerging-adult reader attributions of experience of God in church-situated readings of the Bible. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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The focus of this qualitative research project is an examination of the role reading stance played in participant reader religious appropriations of the Bible as apprehensions of God. The Bible reading transactions of nine church-situated British emerging adults' solitary readings were investigated. Participants reported attendance at Sunday services and Bible study meetings sponsored by an Evangelical-Charismatic church located in a large city in the north of England. Participant biblical transactions are characterized by the actualization of meaning and its appropriation in terms of an apprehension of God in life experience or a state of affairs. Bible reading offered participants the prospect of reading God's presence in their lives. Reading stance emerged in data analysis as a significant factor in the connection of Bible reading to deemed religious experience. Reading stance, the reader's selective awareness of elements that transpire in the transaction of reader and text, shaped the way reader readings guided their readings of experiences of God. The role of the reader in Bible reading is situated within a theoretical framework composed of studies in the academic fields of Christian spirituality and the anthropology of Christianity, Archer's (2003,2007) "internal conversation" sociological theory, and Rosenblatt's (1994, 1995,2005) "transactional" theory of reading. This framework emphasizes the pragmatic and ideological dimensions of the reader's meaning-making activity during reading. The pragmatic dimension refers to the situated reader's purposeful uses of the Bible in the apprehension of God. The ideological dimension refers to the historically formed and socially embedded set of church teachings and practices that serve as interpretive structures to apprehend God. Research findings indicate pertinent intrapersonal and interpersonal factors had a shaping influence on reader orientations toward the Bible. A faith-life anxiety of uncertainty of Christianity, associated with the reader's major life transition from dependence to independence, was a significant intrapersona1 concern that was indicative of a general disposition towards Bible reading. Also, an important interpersonal feature was the interpretive structures of church "Word and Spirit" teaching, the rationale of which authorizes the apprehension of God. Participants engaged with this church ideology as it offered the prospect of the resolution of their anxiety. These factors had a significant impact on reader appropriations of actualized meanings as deemed apprehensions of God. An extensive single case study of an emerging adult reader's readings indicates the particular combination of these influential factors contributed to the idiosyncratic character of his reading stance. The role reading stance played in the spiritual readings of the Bible in participants solitary readings suggests noteworthy theoretical and pedagogical implications for spiritually engaged Bible reading. The reading stance implied in the epistemology of Evangelical biblical interpretation is critiqued in support of the need for a new and holistic model of spiritually engaged reading. Pike's (2000a, 2003a) pedagogy of "responsive teaching" is discussed as an approach that contributes to the development of active and responsible readers who are spiritually engaged. These theoretical and pedagogical considerations which affirm the important role reading stance plays in the spiritual life of the Bible also contribute towards the development of a holistic model of the spirituality of Bible reading.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.551277
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2013 09:03
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3302

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