INTRODUCING a study day sponsored by the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland, Dr William Olhausen said that BACI had been set up because of a sense that the Bible was too often gathering dust on shelves rather than being thoughtfully used. Lay people are increasingly well-educated but not in the exciting developments in biblical study. The conference was held in the Theological Institute, Dublin, on September 7th.
The speakers, Dr Ian Paul (formerly of St John’s Nottingham and now editor of Grove booklets) and Dr Andrew Rogers (of Roehampton University and the author of the well-known H+ course on biblical interpretation) were theologians and educators who have also been in leadership positions in various churches. They emphasised the challenges and opportunities of engaging with the Bible in meaningful and responsible ways. Explanation and interpretation is necessary to get the full meaning of Bible passages. Jesus himself explained the Scriptures to the disciples in Luke 24,v25-27. On another occasion (Luke chapter 10) he asked the question, ‘How do you read the commandments?’
Dr Ian Paul said that the reality is that we are all interpreters of the Bible, whether or not we acknowledge it explicitly. In fact interpretation is at the heart of the New Testament, at the heart of Christian faith, and at the heart of mission.
Dr Andrew Rogers spoke of the “virtues” needed for “making good sense of the Bible”: perseverance, confidence, honesty, faithfulness, humility, courage, openness, and community.
Both speakers gave lively and stimulating presentations to a full room. Participants included clergy from several parts of the country, students, lay readers and others interested in Bible study.