Original Research

Relevance Theory as an approach to interpreting the Bible for children: The Lucan version of the Lord’s Prayer as a test case

Annette H. Evans
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 1 | a1325 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i1.1325 | © 2014 Annette H. Evans | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 January 2014 | Published: 11 August 2014

About the author(s)

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


Recent research has demonstrated that children are sensitive to the underlying causal structureof the world and seek to form new causal representations at a much earlier age than hadpreviously been supposed. Modern scientific understanding of the evolution of life conflictswith the biblical representation of earth as the centre of the world, and of human beings as theimago Dei. Consequently, young children frequently experience cognitive dissonance whenexposed to biblical texts. Two previous pilot studies utilising specifically designed illustratedbooklets demonstrated that children respond more readily to a text that is relevant to their owncultural context. This article tests the possibility of presenting a universally relevant biblicaltext (Lk 11:2b–4) to young children in a form that does not conflict with modern science andtakes aspects of recent research on child psychology into account.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: In our postmodern culturalcontext children tend to experience cognitive dissonance when exposed to biblical texts,and consequently lose interest. This article proposes that by presenting the biblical contentin accordance with Relevance Theory, and in coherence with recent scientific explanatorytheories, the interest of the children may be sustained.


Relevance Theory; Bible; Children; Lord's Prayer


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