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The Bible for children in a postmodern context: How do children form explanatory concepts?

Annette H. Evans

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 35, No 1 (2014), 7 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v35i1.820

Submitted: 20 December 2012
Published:  15 August 2014

Abstract

A previous paper on methodological considerations in interpreting the Bible for childrenexplored the problem of the cognitive gap between biblical interpreter and child. Thisresearch is a follow-up as a result of recognition of necessary adjustments in the way that childevangelism is usually approached (via ‘original sin’). In our current context of postmodernism,the manner and consequences of biblical knowledge transfer between adult and child needto be explored. Recent research suggests that children are sensitive to the underlying causalstructure of the world and seek to form new causal representations at a much earlier age thanwe had previously supposed. ‘Intellectualists’ in the anthropology of religion hold that religionis primarily concerned with providing explanatory theories, thus indicating that childrenneed help to achieve coherence between biblical and scientific views on creation. This articlepresents the rationale for an early intervention to avoid the cognitive dissonance that oftenarises as children grow up and find a lack of coherence between their early evangelisationand the latest scientific discoveries. To test this hypothesis a multilingual illustrated bookletin English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa was designed to be individually read by parents in eachlanguage group to their own 5–8-year-old children. Children’s Bible stories have alwaysbeen ‘pretexts for passing along values’ and this booklet is no different. The purpose of thebooklet was to lay a foundation for children to find Christianity relevant even in the multiculturalcontext of vast scientific and technological advances. The subjects’ responsivenesswas recorded by video camera, and afterwards the parents were individually interviewed andasked to assess the child’s level of interest and to comment on the booklet. Results of this pilotstudy indicated that the booklet was well received.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: In today’s postmodern, globalcultural context children need help to achieve coherence between biblical and scientificversions of creation. This pilot study tests an evangelical booklet designed to lay a foundation for children to find Christianity relevant even in the multi-cultural context of vast scientific and technological advances.


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Author affiliations

Annette H. Evans, Postgraduate School, University of the Free State, South Africa

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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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