Customer Reviews

2 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 8 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Using the Bible in Practical Theology (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology) (Hardcover)
What a beautifully-written, clever book! While the title might sound rather staid and off the beaten track, this commendably short, lapidary book is crystalline in its clarity and compelling in its perceptiveness; its author's considerable learning is conveyed very lightly. If you want an excellent, critical, but entirely constructive introduction to the problems, and more particularly the joys, of engaging the complex texts of the Bible with contemporary life and experience in the public arena, you will enjoy this very much.

Bennett believes that 'experience goes all the way down' in life, thought and interpretation. Working then autobiographically from her own context and history of using the Bible in life, teaching and preaching, Bennett surveys the problems of engaging with the texts of the Bible and the traditions for doing so before introducing us to John Ruskin who was himself a skilled user of the Bible, utilising it in much of his social and art criticism in the C19. Commending Ruskin as a skilled seer (optical, 'heart-seer' and prophetic seer) rather than maker of connections between the Bible and social life, Bennett then goes on to examine current case studies of Bible usage taking Giles Fraser, the Palestinian churches and her own teaching work. While clearly critical of the stances she encounters, she is committed to looking on the Bible and its interpreters of many different stances with a loving, constructive anti-polarising eye. She argues for a critical but compassionate engagement with the texts of the Bible and with human life.

The book offers so much in such a short compass: an engagement with an eloquent, interesting, original and nuanced authorial voice, a wonderful introduction to John Ruskin (the book is worth reading for this alone), and as an almost inadvertent bonus, a clear and engaging primer for Practical Theology in which many aspects like the 'pastoral cycle' and 'theological reflection' are deftly re-construed and renewed. As far as I know, it is the first Practical Theology book to engage with a historical figure and his approach in order to illuminate and question contemporary concerns. The outcome is very positive and helpful.

I think anyone interested in a serious, humane but critical and appreciative engagement with the Bible would find this book readable and interesting, as would any reader interested finding out more about John Ruskin. It will be particularly useful for students and practitioners of Practical Theology who will find it a breath of fresh air in its accessible style, content and approach. It will be an important and welcome addition to the literature of the discipline.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine research and compassionate writing, 10 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Using the Bible in Practical Theology (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology) (Hardcover)
Zoe Bennett, Director of Postgraduate Studies in Pastoral Theology at Anglia Ruskin University and the Cambridge Theological Federation, has written a fine book, exploring the use and misuse of the Bible in practical and public theology. She shares something of her own story, from her background in open evangelicalism to a crisis over people's claims of the Bible's inerrancy through to a place where 'tenderness, love, playfulness, imagination and a critical awareness' give her 'both warmth and ambivalence to the Christian tradition and to the Bible' (p.130).

She examines and seeks rapprochement between the two 'traditions', between 'what the Bible says' and 'what experience teaches'. Here she engage with the interpretation of both the text and, to use Anton Boisen's phrase, the 'living human documents' of people's stories. She traces the roots of this debate in the interchange between Schleiermacher and Karl Barth.

The book's special focus is in the life and writings of John Ruskin and his huge, hitherto unexplored, contribution to practical and public theology. She delineates his own Bible-based upbringing at his mother's knee to the time of his doubts and deep puzzlement in his 'unconversion', which, in turn, led to a richer and more open perspective on the place of the Bible amid the struggles of the poor and oppressed. Here, Ruskin learned to 'see with the heart'.

Bennett concludes her book with three powerful illustrations of the Bible in the public arena: in Occupy London and Giles Fraser's resignation from the staff at St Paul's Cathedral; in the Kairos Palestine Document; and in her own experience of supervising research in her Professional Doctorate programme, an approach that works inductively, starting with 'the detailed particulars' of practice, in all its 'ambiguity and fragmentation'.

If you want to think through and apply the teaching of the Bible in the complexities of everyday life and your own personal journey, let me warmly recommend the reading and careful study of this excellent book. In it you will find a wise and compassionate authorial voice that bravely tackles, for example, the strangeness and awkwardness of the biblical text, as well as encouraging an honest, reflective engagement with its rich, life-changing material.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews