Readings from the Road: Contextual Bible Study with a Group of Homeless and Vulnerably-Housed People

David Nixon and I have a paper in the new issue of The Expository Times (123, 12-19). It's entitled "Readings from the Road: Contextual Bible Study with a Group of Homeless and Vulnerably-Housed People", and is the firstfruits of the British Academy Small Research Grant I held in the summer of 2010. I recently presented a version of this paper at the Modern Church conference, "'Can These Bones Live?'  Reading the Bible Today", which tied in with the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible.

Here's the abstract:
"Readings from the Road, a British Academy-funded small research project, investigated the use of Contextual Bible Study (CBS) with a group of homeless and vulnerably-housed people at a soup kitchen in South-West England. The transient nature of the homeless community presented particular challenges in using this method, but the non-directive and democratic nature of CBS proved valuable. The authors discuss three themes arising from the study sessions: home and place, judgment and stigmatization, and the figure of Jesus. Participants’ linking of biblical themes with their own experiences and broader social events are explored. The authors note that consciously privileging the experience and knowledge of those whose narratives or reading sites are silenced or devalued by mainstream religious traditions is not unequivocally positive, but that the homeless participants’ liminal, insider-outsider relationship to the rest of society is a significant factor in their ability to query and subvert established discourses, providing flashes of imagery which might be deemed prophetic."

It was great to work with David on this, especially given the experience he was able to bring from the interviews with homeless people he conducted for his PhD thesis - and I'm delighted that he's currently undertaking further work on homelessness and theology.