The role of the Doctrine of Scripture upon Evangelical Anglican reading and interpretation of the Bible

Hutchinson, Anna (2022). The role of the Doctrine of Scripture upon Evangelical Anglican reading and interpretation of the Bible. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores the relationship between the espoused doctrine of Scripture and the practice of biblical interpretation in an Evangelical context, focusing particularly on British Anglicanism, albeit with wider application and implications. The project investigates the extent to which the beliefs that Evangelical readers hold about the Bible influence their interpretative practices and conclusions.
Chapter 1 begins with an overview of relevant empirical research on the dynamics of evangelical Bible-reading to identify the ‘research gap’ that this thesis seeks to address in focusing on the doctrinal underpinnings of interpretation. Chapter 2 then offers a theoretical foundation for the research, providing background to the development of biblical beliefs within Evangelicalism and Anglicanism respectively, and together. This leads to the identification of beliefs about the Bible and interpretative practices that evangelicals might reasonably be expected to demonstrate, by drawing upon the writings of key popular evangelical Anglicans, concluding that this group believe that the Bible is authoritative, inspired, sufficient, clear, consistent and historical. I then connect these beliefs to their hermeneutical counterparts and show how British Evangelicals are taught to read with doctrinal commitments in mind, to adopt the historical-grammatical approach, and to read canonically, for application and with and through the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 3 turns to introduce the fieldwork, which comprised six UK-based focus groups reading and discussing three biblical texts. Three of these groups consisted of participants who had undertaken at least a year of formal theological education; the other three had no such training. The methodology of the research is provided and the focus group participants introduced. Chapter 4 then continues with a focus upon the texts which were selected for participants to read. The rationale for their inclusion is described, followed by an overview of relevant scholarship and descriptions of each focus group’s discussion.
Chapter 5 then focuses on the influence of the doctrine of Scripture. This is assessed according to participants’ responses to the text challenges, the explicit comments that participants make about the nature of the Bible and the hermeneutical practices they employ. These insights into the influence of a person’s beliefs about Scripture upon reading are then placed in the context of other interpretative influences in chapter 6, that became evident from participants’ discussion. These included their doctrine of God, the text’s genre and the reader’s unique context. The thesis thus explores how these influences impact approaches to the text, but also views on the doctrine of Scripture itself.
Chapter 7 reflects on the emerging view of the doctrine of Scripture’s role in interpretation in relation to the transformation of text, by putting participants’ view of Scripture in conversation with hermeneutical theory that posits the text is able to affect the reader. Finally, chapter 8 compares the responses of theologically-educated and non-educated participants on the dynamics of approaching the text, illustrating how theological education produces more diversity in thought and stronger views on both the liberal and conservative ends of the evangelical spectrum and increases the likelihood of certain hermeneutical practices.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: College of Arts and Law Scholarship
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology


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