Study Spice

One technique that may be helpful in leading a Bible study group is to implement some Ignatian Meditation.

Ignatian Meditation is named after Saint Ignatius of Loyola and his writings between 1522-1524 titled, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Though Ignatius’ writings stem from his experience with a German church writer of the fourteenth century, Ludolph of Saxony, the basic premise to Ignatian Meditation is to engage the imagination and weave the reader into a Gospel story, so that they can encounter Jesus for themselves.

So, if you were to study Mark 4:35-41 with a small group of individuals, you could assign one of the following perspectives to each group member:

    • Position yourself on one of the nearby boats. Where do you see yourself? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel?
    • Position yourself as one of the disciples on Jesus’ boat. Where do you see yourself? Standing next to Jesus? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel?
    • Become Jesus. How does he feel?
    • Imagine your current self present in the story. How would you feel if you were there?

As you read the story, ask them to truly place themselves in the story through their given role. After reading, ask each person to present their perceptions and move towards interpretation-application.

Though this may feel like a lot of isegesis (“reading into the text”), I think it depends on how you use the technique. If you use the technique to surface your group’s perceptions as actual and true interpretations, leaving confident that your assumptions are accurate, then that would be isegesis.

But if you simply allow it to assist with group interaction, foster deeper character empathy, and use it as a catalyst to then wrestle with explicit interpretations from the text (exegesis), it can be a helpful tool in allowing the stories to come alive while stimulating dialogue from every group member.


~ by Dave Smith on February 20, 2009.

2 Responses to “Study Spice”

  1. Ignation meditation? How progressive of you 😛

    Here’s what I find most interesting about this method. When it comes to Biblical interpretation/study in small groups, I’ve found that perception is reality. In other words, the text means what people perceive it to mean. Getting these perceptions to the surface, however, can often be difficult — even though it is a vital part of leading a small group discussion of any sort.

    Ignation meditation provides a safe space for these perceptions to be aired, regardless of whether they are eisegetical or exegetical, as well as a launching pad for digging deeper into the text’s meaning(s).

    The main drawback? It can be very, very awkward…:)

  2. Great insight Ben. It is a nice tool, and one I just started using (in poor fashion I might add), but definitely got people thinking and talking in different ways.

    YES!, it can be awkward though! For some reason it seems the females tended to resonnate more with it than the males (going from my small sample).

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