Monday, December 22, 2008

Elements of Biblical Exegesis

Bobby at Hendrickson recently (well, not so recently anymore!) gave me a copy of Gorman's The Elements of Biblical Exegesis to read. He thought I would enjoy the section on theological interpretation, since Eisenbrauns publishes JTI. He was correct, but I enjoyed more than that, so how about you join me in a ride through the book for the next 2 weeks or so?

Let's start with the introduction

...arguably the most important development in the field of biblical studies since the turn of the twenty-first century has been the turn (or, rather, return) to the theological interpretation of Scripture. This development expresses a deep desire on the part of many biblical scholars and theologians to explore and articulate ways of biblical interpretation that attend to the biblical text primarily as theological text, as vehicle of divine revelation and address. To many outside the theological guild but inside the church (and perhaps even outside it), such a focus is altogether self-evident and natural. To many inside the guild, however, years of exposure to nontheological interpretation have made reading the Bible as Scripture seem almost abnormal, and those of us who wish to change this bias are aware of the challenges before us as we attempt to move forward in the appropriately theological task of biblical interpretation...

...despite the location of the extended discussion of theological interpretation near the end of the book, readers should not conclude that theological interpretation is an afterthought,
or that it takes place only after all the “real work” of critical or scientific (historical and literary) exegesis is finished. Rather, theological interpretation involves an attitude, a modus operandi, and a goal (telos) that permeate the entire process. In sum, theological interpretation means reading the scriptural text as closely and carefully as possible, employing the best methodologies available, because theological interpreters believe that during and after that process they can hear God speak in and through the text.—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 1, 2

<idle musing>
I like the way he put that, theological interpretation is the telos of exegesis, with the ultimate goal of transformed hearts and lives. This can only come as we listen to the voice of God speaking to us as we wrestle with the text.

He adds an important caveat: “Exegesis, then, is investigation, conversation, and art. As conversation and art, exegesis requires an openness to others and to the text that method alone cannot provide.”—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 12.

This is vital! Openness, especially to those who disagree with us! It is boring reading only those who agree, there is no stimulus, no fresh thought, no new blood. We need someone who disagrees, or at least sees things differently, to shake us from our complacency and set way of reading the text. The Holy Spirit can, and does, do that, but frequently it is through using others.
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is an exchange between Gorman and me over the new "theological interpretation" movement, chronicled by Nijay Gupta at