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Durham e-Theses
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An Observation and Analysis of Ordinary Bible Reading among British, Evangelical, Emerging Adults

PERRIN, RUTH,HELEN (2015) An Observation and Analysis of Ordinary Bible Reading among British, Evangelical, Emerging Adults. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (PhD Thesis) - Accepted Version


This study contributes to the under-researched field of how ‘ordinary’ British Christians engage with their Scriptures. It examines the Bible reading habits of young evangelicals and explores how these shape their ability to engage contentious themes within the text. It also examines attitudes towards gender and, following Arnett’s model of ‘emerging adulthood’, traces patterns of faith development, comparing evangelical belief with wider findings on emerging adult religiosity.
Findings are based on a qualitative research project undertaken with emerging adults from three churches that span the evangelical tradition: egalitarian charismatics, mainstream evangelicals and Reformed neo-conservatives. In each church three mixed-gender focus groups were run, comprised of cohorts aged 18-22, 23-26 and 27-33. All nine groups read and freely discussed three biblical narratives: 2 Kings 5, 1 Samuel 25 and Acts 12. These were chosen for their relative unfamiliarity and the contested theological issues they raise: divine violence, supernaturalism and issues of gender. Discussions were examined in light of the official doctrinal positions of their churches and the expectations their leaders expressed. They were also compared across theological tradition and age range.
After a review of the research context and methodology, findings are discussed in three sections. The first explores the groups’ reading priorities and hermeneutical processes, revealing considerable similarities across all three churches. The second section contains three chapters exploring theological and age-related diversity around the contested issues. Finally group dynamics and patterns of evangelical behaviour are explored before some conclusions are drawn and suggestions made for ongoing research.
This project presents a new methodology for comparative exploration of beliefs and challenges assumptions about the faith of emerging adults. It provides nuanced findings on the dynamic relationship young British evangelicals have with their faith and Scriptures.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Evangelical, Bible reading, Emerging Adults, Hermeneutics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Oct 2015 10:06

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