Using the Bible in Practical Theology: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology)

ReligionandIndividualTitle: Using the Bible in Practical Theology: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology)

Author: Zoë Bennett

Publisher: Ashgate 

Date of publication:  New edition edition published in January 28, 2015

Pages: 212

Practical Theology is always considered as one of the most important aspects in the field of Theology. It is difficult because it combines both Theology and the practical aspects of it. How do we bring together Theology and practical aspects? That is what Zoe Bennett tries to answer in her book Using the Bible in Practical Theology: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology).

The book is divided into three major sections and composed by eleven chapters. Part I: Using the Bible – the Reader of Multiple Texts; Part II: John Ruskin: ‘To see clearly … is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one; Part III: The Bible and Theology in the Public Sphere.

Part I, deals with the concept of personal experiences and life in itself as an indispensable, and sometimes unconscious, element in the process of acquiring a personal interpretation of the Bible. Chapter one introduces the reader to that issue under the title “The Text of the Bible and the Text of Life.” Through the usage of what the author calls “cameo”, Bennett presents the idea of change through lifespan. More specifically, she focuses on how we change our personal interpretation of the Bible based on our personal maturity and life experiences. She also presents the idea of how our spiritual context shapes our spiritual formation as we mature within a specific spiritual community. This introductory chapter is well developed and shows readers the roadmap for the rest of the book. This section also provides a summary of the history of practical theology through the lives of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, presented by Bennett as the father of practical theology, and Karl Barth. The author considers these two figures as antagonist characters of a same discipline, but at the same time as complimentary perspectives. According to Bennett, Schleiermacher was mostly focused on the hermeneutical aspect of practical theology and how human existence can be explained by and through practical theology.

While reading Bennett’s book, I sometimes had the feeling of reading a biographical book. The author uses first person and personal experiences constantly through the book. I had a very hard time accommodating my mind to that way of writing theology, since most of the books I have read on the topic of practical Theology are not written in first person. I think Bennett’s book would benefit from avoiding “I” statements and first person usage. However, I must say that the personal experiences she includes are always within the context of what she is writing about and provide light to what is being said.

This book is a great contribution to an always changing field as the field of practical theology is. I highly recommend this book to pastors, theologians, and Bible students who are looking for a modern perspective regarding the topic of practical theology.

You can buy the book here

I received an electronic copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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