In this final post on James Bielo’s Words Upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Bible Study, I’m writing about both his final chapter â€” “Negotiating Self and Others” â€” and his conclusion. Both are relatively short, and in some ways, they work well together.
Negotiating Self and Others
In this chapter, Bielo uses as his case study a women’s Bible study at the same Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) church as the men’s group from an earlier chapter. Specifically, Bielo focuses on how the women in this Bible study define themselves and their Lutheranism through dialogue, grounded in their discussions of the Bible.
Based on my observations and analyses of eighteen group meetings, I cannot overstate the attention paid to the theme of denominational identity by the LCMS Women. The marking of textual materials alone was remarkable. The denominational affiliations of Bible commentators, authors, speakers, hymn writers, and Bible translators were constantly inquired about, if not immediately identified (usually by Sandy [the group facilitator]). The words and lives of Lutheran theologians â€” from Martin Luther to Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Erwin Lutzer â€” were repeatedly recontextualized to help explain [Beth] Moore’s commentary and biblical texts. [1. The LCMS Women were studying one of Beth Moore’s To Live Is Christ.] Self-deprecating jokes about this preoccupation concluded intense discussions, indexing a keen awareness of how much they talked about “being Lutheran.” (140) [Read more…] about Bielo: Bible Study Shapes Identity and Action