Devising Biblical Drama to Inhabit Proposed Worlds
: Enabling Ricoeurian Interpretation in Orally Focused Church Communities

  • Mary Witts

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    “What shows itself is a proposed world, a world I may inhabit, and wherein I can project my ownmost possibilities.” (Paul Ricoeur)

    This research investigates devised biblical drama as an alternative hermeneutic for orally focused churches, whose practical problems in engaging with Scripture leave them at the unintended margins of the global churches’ world of assumed literacy. The work builds on a Ricoeurian perception of Scripture as a dynamic of time, telling and tradition that offers a drawing invitation to Christians to enter and inhabit its proposed worlds of anticipative and participative remembering, beckoning towards life in the now-and-not-yet of the kingdom of God. A telling case is offered by the orally focused Anglican Churches in Gambella (Ethiopia), through the reflective voices of their church leaders, and through the illustration of their dramas: seen within the innovation of fresh interpretation, and also through the sedimentation of their tradition of drama. Firstly, the nature and interpretative process of devising biblical drama is investigated, demonstrating that this holistic, creative, and communal, contextualized approach to Scripture entwines aspects of criticality and orality through its conversational questioning and imagining of Scripture that is enhanced through practical embodiment. The research proposes that the embodied, enacted, mimetic form of drama offers a liminality that enables participative inhabitation of the proposed worlds of Scripture. Secondly, the developing tradition of Anglican biblical dramas in Gambella is investigated. These dramas inherit, form, participate in, and hand on the tradition of Christian cultural memory on which these churches are founded, through a proclamation of Scripture that is made manifest within present event. This research argues that both forms of drama offer participative possibilities for faithful and formative, hopeful inhabitation of the proposed worlds of Scripture, and so could offer potential gifts to the wider church.
    Date of Award28 Sep 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorAndrew Rogers (Supervisor), Joshua Abrams (Supervisor) & Tina Beattie (Supervisor)


    • scripture
    • bible
    • hermeneutics
    • Ricoeur
    • Orality
    • sub-Saharan Africa
    • Anglican
    • church
    • drama
    • devising

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