Interpreting a text literarily
‘The system in Brazil, my native country, is quite different from my studies at VU Amsterdam. We covered so much more ground here and I became aware of the various ways you can interpret a text. Before enrolling at VU Amsterdam, I knew nothing about the impact of the author, text, and reader on each other, or about how they influence each other. The author’s background and their construction of a text influence the way we engage with the text, shape our worldview and how we put theory into practice. I knew I had chosen the right Master’s degree!’
‘The Book of Revelation is widely known in Brazil, but the way it is read is quite literal, resulting in a pessimistic view of the future with a lack of engagement and hopeful change in the social level. In Brazil, this kind of reading has led to indifference because it makes an earthly life seem hopeless and undesirable.’
Engagement with the text and your discovery of self
‘I am developing a method to allow you to understand and interpret the book on a different level. I show how the stories told and the way they are told shape our view of the text. If you really understand the meaning the text seeks to convey, you enter into a dynamic engagement with the text as a reader in an imaginative exercise of discovery of your own self and potential. Thanks to my Master’s, I gained a better understanding of my own responsibility and want to show it to others. I want to be a bridge between academic studies and religion.’ ‘I look back on my studies at VU Amsterdam as a really valuable experience. I learned a lot and the lecturers took the time to help me. Moreover, the university’s international character attracts people from many different cultures.’
Wilson Bento from São Paulo, Brazil, Research Master’s in Theology and Religious Studies (2016). Bachelor of Theology in Brazil.