A PANORAMA OF BIBLICAL STUDIES

J C Malan

Abstract


This paper is meant to convey a general idea of the current functioning of Biblical Studies in Southern Africa. By means of approximate figures, a quantitative survey is given of students and teaching staff involved in Biblical Studies and Bible Education at schools, colleges and universities. The inference is drawn that at tertiary level we should be less concerned about an apparent overproduction of teachers for these subjects, but rather focus our attention on the significance and relevance of Biblical Studies in present-day South Africa.

The second and main part of the paper is a qualitative survey in which an assessment of university, college and school syllabuses is given. The core syllabus for Biblical Studies at university level, as accepted by the Biblical Studies Society for Southern Africa, is taken as the frame of reference. The paper indicates how university syllabuses correlate with the core syllabus, but also how perspectives such as hermeneutical, historical, systematic and ethical are specially emphasized. Syllabus quotations on the ethical perspective provide a list of very relevant issues. And noteworthy answers to the questionnaire question on life-relatedness are added.

School syllabuses are tactfully but critically discussed. In the Biblical Studies syllabus very little attention is given to the prophets and the letters, to the interpretation of Scripture, and to topical issues. Some of the Bible Education syllabuses do include – although inconspicuously placed – a few topical issues.

The disappointing conclusion is that the life-relatedness of the Christian message is not taken seriously, except in some tertiary syllabuses. What is encouraging, however, are the questionnaire responses emphasizing our responsibility in respect of –

  • The understanding of the Bible;
  • The implications for daily living,
  • Relationships with God and fellow-men,
  • And the current situation South Africa;

The formative value of Biblical Studies.


Keywords


Biblical Studies; South Africa; School syllabus; Bible Education; University syllabus; Life-relatedness of the Christian message

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/26-0-1851

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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