A Pragmatic Pedagogy of Bible

Jul. 06, 2009

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 75, Issue 3 , pages 290 – 303


Many Bible scholars have become aware of the fact that the results we produce are dependent on the particular approaches that we choose to employ, and have become more self-conscious about the methods we use and the reasons we use them. Each approach to the analysis and interpretation of a text will yield its own type of meaning or understanding. This thesis is an outgrowth of pragmatic philosophy. A multiperspective approach to teaching Bible is advocated, and it is illustrated with reference to the Tower of Babel narrative.


After discussing various means of interpreting the Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1-9), the author concludes:


"…we ought not place at the center of our studies the analytical techniques we employ in reading texts, but rather the meanings that give significance to our enterprise. It is beneficial to have facility with a variety of interpretive approaches, and to know how to exploit them, in order to arrive at the sorts of meaning that matter to us. When we begin an interpretative effort, it is worth asking first: what is important to bring out at this moment? Once we have settled on what kinds of meaning we are seeking, we can then figure out which approaches and questions will best help us get there."

Updated: Oct. 14, 2009