Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What can I contribute?

“because of each reader’s own unique experiences and “location,” he or she will have insight into the Bible that no one else will have. Each reader can learn to bring together literary and historical perspectives as well as personal experience to understand a written text in a way that is unique to that individual and that contributes to the ongoing conversation about the text.”—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, pages 24-25

<idle musing>
This insight is at the heart of why we need to listen to everyone—and why everyone can teach, although maybe not formally. God speaks to everyone, and everyone hears that voice in a unique way. As we share together what God is saying to each of us, we all grow.

Am I advocating relativism here? Absolutely not! The voice of God will not contradict scripture, but it will cause us to see things in a fresh way. This is one of the strengths of small group meetings, be they house churches, or informal bible studies.

</idle musing> Rudolf Bultmann, the great German biblical scholar of the first half of the twentieth century, said, there is no exegesis without presuppositions[“Is Exegesis without Presuppositions Possible?” in Existence and Faith: Shorter Writings of Rudolf Bultmann (trans. Schubert Ogden; New York: Meridian, 1960), 342–51]. We all come to the text with interests in it, maybe even an agenda. Biblical texts compel us to ask not only “What?” but “So what?” Historical and literary critics we may be, or wish to become, but we are also human beings seeking an encounter with truths and realities to
which sacred texts point.

Refusing to consider responsible reflection on and with the text as an aspect of exegesis is shortsighted and unnecessary. Most exegetes have their eyes on “two horizons”—the horizon, or world, of the biblical text itself, and the horizon, or world, of their own personal and corporate experience.—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 27

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