Netherlands, Utrecht

The Bible in a Secular Setting: Contextual Biblical Interpretation in the Netherlands

when 8 July 2019 - 12 July 2019
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 400

How is the Bible read in actual fact by people in a secular context? This question drives the course The Bible in a Secular Setting: Contextual Biblical Interpretation in the Netherlands. The course explores both research into the use of the Bible and the approaches to the Bible by “ordinary readers”. The program includes discussions research into the factual use of the Bible and views of it, an exploration of methods for the empirical study of biblical interpretation, and seminars on the contextually sensitive use of the Bible in new missionary initiatives and in marginal parts of society.

This course focus on the use and reception of the Bible in the secular context of the Netherlands. Research in contextual biblical interpretation and reception has often focused on areas outside of Europe, the Centre for Contextual Biblical Interpretation includes European, secular contexts in to its research.
The course has the following foci:
- The Bible in the Netherlands: a survey of contemporary and historical biblical interpretation, based on recent research. How many Dutch do actually read the Bible? With what expectations? How do they view the book? Dr. Anne-Mareike Wetter (Netherlands Bible Society) introduces the latest research and Dr. Hans Snoek shows, based on recent scholarship, how autobiography and biblical interpretation interrelate.
- New meanings from old texts: in a number of case studies, drawn from urban Amsterdam and other, rural and marginal parts of the country, examples are given as to how people read, use and make sense of the Bible in a secularized world. How does this work? What effect does this have? Pioneering scholars ánd religious practitioners share their work and insight.
- The academic relevance of “contextual” interpretation of the Bible: what new insights are enabled by secular perspectives on the Bible? What does the ordinary reader see that the professional exegete overlooks? Professors Klaas Spronk and Peter-Ben Smit offer Old and New Testament case studies. Researcher Eva van Urk introduces questions of biblical interpretation in an age of extinction (anthropocene).
- The course also includes a master class, offered by trainers of the missionary and aid agency 'Kerk in Actie', on methods of contextual biblical interpretation, as these have been developed in the 'Global South' and are now reintroduced to the 'Global North.'
Finally, in order to gain an appreciation of the Dutch history of religion, an excursion to the premier museum of religious art, Catharijneconvent (Utrecht), is also included.

Course leader

Prof. dr. Peter-Ben Smit

Target group

- Scholars and students of theology, religious studies, history and the social sciences interested in religion in a secular world.
- Scholars and students of biblical studies interested in the contemporary reception of the Bible.
- Religious professionals (pastors, church planters, teachers, etc.) seeking to enhance their knowledge of biblical interpretation in secular setting.

Course aim

The goals of the course are the following. Upon completing the course:
- Will be familiar with key characteristics of biblical interpretation in the secular setting of the Netherlands.
- The student has advanced knowledge of the kind of new meaning that is produced by ordinary readers in the Netherlands and its significance for biblical interpretation.

- The student will have insight into and personal experience with methods that are employed in the contextually sensitive interpretation of the Bible in the Netherlands.

Fee info

EUR 400: Course fee
EUR 200: Housing fee

Register for this course
on course website