Reading the Bible in Two Contexts

Reading the Bible in Two Contexts

During the second semester of this year, I was able to share in the teaching of the Applied Hermeneutics course with emphasis on the New Testament.

It was a course designed for Master of Biblical Sciences students from the Theological Community of Mexico (CTdeM). The course was intended to deepen the application of methods of reading and interpretation considering the world of text, authors, and especially readers.

Hermeneutics is an art of understanding and interpretation.  Students entered the “world of the biblical text” from their contexts and experiences, influencing the text and its production of senses and meanings.  Through the reading and interpretation exercises, they sought to make the biblical texts effective and relevant to their churches and communities.  The exegetical work involved reading the biblical text with questions, interests, and different perspectives and coming out with a new vision of life and reality, that is, with the perspective of God.

As part of the academic exchanges between the Theological Community of Mexico and the Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas (SET) in Cuba, I shared this same course with a group of Master of Theology students from SET.  From October 21-25, we worked on a proposal for rereading New Testament texts from the context of the churches and Christian organizations in Cuba. By applying methods of community or popular reading of the Bible, we built bridges between life and biblical text (life – text – life).

Both groups (CTdeM and SET), pastors, and ecclesial leaders are committed to their churches and a holistic proposal of the church’s mission in the world.  Their final projects involved the consideration of needs or problems present in their churches or communities.  The questions:  from what context do we read the Bible?  What is our point of departure, interest, or concern?  The emphasis was placed on the reading community, which seeks to be enlightened by the Word of God to transform its reality.  Students addressed topics of interest within their contexts:  migration, gender-based violence, citizen insecurity, church political advocacy, climate change, corruption, and comprehensive mission.

The experience of sharing this course with two groups of students in two contexts (Mexico and Cuba) was challenging and very enriching.  Students’ assessments are very encouraging. It’s worth sharing some of their comments:

“The learned methods helped us to read from the perspective of the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities, building on their real needs.”

“The course challenged me to better prepare for service in my church and community.  I have acquired new tools to interpret the Bible more carefully and responsibly, doing a reading with a liberating perspective.”

“What I learned helps me rethink what we are doing as a church.  I feel challenged to continue learning and sharing from my life experience and my ministry.”

Finally, I want to thank my students for their valuable contributions in these courses, and the seminaries for allowing me to be part of their training processes.  I also want to thank Global Ministries for facilitating this beautiful time of learning.

Carlos Sediles-Real serves the Theological Community of Mexico (CTdeM). His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.