Engaging orality in theological education: teaching the story of the Old Testament in the MENA context
LE3 .A278 2019
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
This thesis project addresses the lack of biblical literacy, specifically of the Old Testament narrative, in the growing oral context of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), by designing a course at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) for theology students who are already pastors and leaders and who represent the different countries in the MENA. Equipping key leaders to convey the story of the Old Testament in their oral context is an urgent need locally and internationally. The latest statistics of the International Orality Network show that there are 2.7 billion unreached people in approximately 3500 unengaged people groups. This statistic also shows that there are around 2 billion people without the Old Testament. Chapter one begins by examining three short stories in the Old Testament, pointing out to the various commonalities in conveying a divine message through storytelling. I have studied the stories of the poor man’s lamb (2 Sam. 11:27b-12:7a), the 2 fighting brothers and the avengers of blood (2 Sam. 13:38-14:24), and the fruitless vineyard (Is. 5:1-7) in their different forms and genre as a means of communicating a formative message. The storytelling techniques used ontributed to the narration project in which ABTS students were trained to narrate the story of the Old Testament to their oral communities. Chapter two continues with a sampling of theologians, biblical scholars, and Christian writers from throughout early church history. These sources are used to look at oral tradition and its significance in education from a historical and theological point of view. Four periods were considered: (1) the Old Testament period, especially the period of the Pentateuch; (2) the New Testament, especially during the time of Jesus’ ministry; (3) the early church; (4) the rabbinic period. At one stage in history, it is about reflecting on God’s faithfulness with His people; while, at another stage, oral tradition is revealing the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Oral tradition in the course of human history, within the frame of the divine-human relationship, allows God’s mission to meet human response. Chapter three explores the contemporary forms of storytelling and oral tradition both globally and locally. For this project, I will be using mixed-methods design, which involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods in a single study. ABTS students were asked to narrate the story of the Old Testament to an oral group of people in which a paired-samples t-test was conducted to compare the test results of participants before they were subject to the narrative and after the story was narrated to them. The results of the test indicated a significant difference in the scores on the pre-test and on the post-test. Following this project, it was observed that learning occurred. Overall, the results revealed that the narration project achieved its goal of teaching the story of the Old Testament to oral communities.
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