One month from today, on Friday 29th June, the University of Nottingham will host a conference entitled The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics. I’ve mentioned this before, but will fill it out with some explanations, faces and titles below. There are still places left, so I encourage you to register if you haven’t yet done so. Also, if anyone would care to advertise this on their blog, I’d appreciate it.
The conference is designed to face one key issue: to what extent should a plurality of interpretative approaches and results be curbed by particular parameters of responsibility? It is undeniable that the breadth of genres and degrees of “openness” in the biblical documents allow for a number of ways of hearing and interpreting these texts. But how should we expect multiple interpretations of the Bible to be kept in check? Each of the conference speakers will consider one parameter of responsibility, which perhaps ought to act as a constraint on the validity of competing biblical interpretations:
First up will be Stanley Porter, from McMaster Divinity College. Porter will consider Biblical Hermeneutics and Theological Responsibility. While appreciative of the influence of Thiselton in particular in this area, Porter is critical of much “theological hermeneutics” – so I look forward to hearing his perspective.
The second speaker is Walter Moberly, from the University of Durham. Moberly’s paper will be on Biblical Hermeneutics and Ecclesial Responsibility. Moberly writes, “The overall concern in my scholarly work is the responsible understanding and use of the Bible in the life, thought, and spirituality of Christian faith today.”
The third speaker is Richard Briggs, also from the University of Durham. His paper will be on Biblical Hermeneutics and Scriptural Responsibility. I am currently in the middle of reading Briggs’ The Virtuous Reader: Old Testament Narrative and Interpretive Virtue, in which Briggs explores the virtues suggested by the Old Testament itself as marking a good reader.
The final speaker in the morning session is me, Matthew Malcolm. My paper will be on Biblical Hermeneutics and Kerygmatic Responsibility. My proposal is that in interpreting any text, one needs to consider its formational orientation. For the texts of the New Testament, this orientation relates to the apostolic kerygma(ta).
After lunch, James Dunn will address the topic Biblical Hermeneutics and Historical Responsibility. Among Dunn’s many influential books is the series Christianity in the Making. Dunn is well qualified to address this issue, and I look forward to hearing his perspective.
Next is Robert Morgan, from Oxford University, on the topic Biblical Hermeneutics and Critical Responsibility. Morgan’s co-authored book Biblical Interpretation contains a chapter entitled “Criticism and the Death of Scripture.” He is committed to the rigorous application of critical methods, while also desiring to foster theological sensitivity in interpretation.
The final speaker in the afternoon session will be Tom Greggs from the University of Aberdeen, speaking on Biblical Hermeneutics and Relational Responsibility. Greggs writes, “A large part of my work concerns how to articulate theology outwith the conditions of Christendom. This involves both theological reflection on the conditions of post-Christendom, and on issues that the conditions of post-Christendom raise. This aspect of my research has included reflection on such issues as how to think theologically about church-state relations, theo-politics, pluralism, secularism/secularity, political liberalism, contemporary evangelicalism, and salvation and the non-Christian.”
The final paper, over dinner, will be presented by Anthony Thiselton, whose work inspired the conference. He will speak on the general topic, The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics. Among Thiselton’s books on hermeneutics are The Two Horizons and Hermeneutics: An Introduction.
If you can make it to the conference, do say hello!