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I’ve been asked to do a series of five talks to resource people on ‘preaching on 1 Corinthians’ later this month. Here’s what I’m planning to cover – lots of preparation still to go, though…

  1. The theme/s and content of 1 Corinthians (and ways of dividing it up for a sermon series)
  2. The pastoral direction and theology of 1 Corinthians (themes that ought to distinctively come to the fore when we preach on this letter)
  3. The contexts and backgrounds of 1 Corinthians (how and when to engage them in preaching)
  4. Applying 1 Corinthians in preaching (moving from Corinth to Western Australia)
  5. Putting it together: preparing to preach on 1 Corinthians

I’m just reading Matthew 28 in advance of Easter Sunday, and am noticing things I’d never paid attention to before…

  • the seismic apocalyptic events shake both the earth (v2) and the guards (v4)
  • the Roman condemners have become as dead (v4), while the crucified has become alive (v6)
  • the guards are so (literally) shaken by the event that they realise they must announce it (v11 – same word used in Jesus’ instruction in v10)
  • these guards are parallel, then, to the women: they move from fear to announcement
  • the women experience fear and joy (v8), and the other disciples experience worship and doubt (v17)
  • the guards are given silver; the disciples are given gold: ‘I will be with you always’

Here’s the conversation I’m now having with the text:

Text: Do not fear!

Matthew: Why would I? I’m far removed from these events.

Text: Are you? These events show that the world has begun turning upside down: the living are made dead and the dead are made alive – and this is just the firstfruits of the apocalypse

Matthew: Okay, I’m fearful

Text: Do not fear! Worship and announce!

There is a nice review of the book Horizons in Hermeneutics, which I edited with Stanley Porter, in the Expository Times, here. Reviews of all my stuff can be found on the ‘My resources’ tab…

I said the other day that I’d point to some useful resources on hermeneutics. I’m just at home on my phone, so I won’t give full details, but here are some important categories and authors:

Classics on interpretation:

  • Plato, Phaedrus (among others)
  • Aristotle, On Rhetoric
  • Augustine, On Christian Doctrine
  • Aquinas, Summa, book 1
  • Calvin, Institutes, book 1
  • Schleiermacher, On Hermeneutics

Philosophical hermeneutics:

  • Heidegger, Hermeneutics of Facticity
  • Gadamer, Truth and Method (among others)
  • Ricoeur, Oneself as Another (among others)
  • Grondin, Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics

Theological hermeneutics (ie theological adaptation of philosophical hermeneutics):

  • Thiselton, New Horizons (among others)
  • Zimmermann, Recovering Theological Hermeneutics
  • Jensen, Theological Hermeneutics
  • Porter and Robinson, Hermeneutics

Biblical Interpretation (applying the insights of theological hermeneutics, with varying degrees of success/precision/practicality):

  • Treier, Theological Interpretation
  • Porter and Malcolm, Future of Biblical Interpretation
  • Brown, Scripture as Communication
  • Green, Hearing the NT
  • Knight, Methods in Biblical Interpretation

Those are some good places to start 😄 

Yesterday my kids came back from an Easter ‘family fun day’ at a local church. They said that, among other things, they saw an Easter puppet play. I stopped them and said, ‘Let me guess: a puppet said that they thought Easter was all about the chocolate, and then found themselves corrected?’ My kids’ eyes widened: ‘Yes!!’

Sigh… 

For interest, below is the content that I’m covering in my intensive MA unit on ‘Advanced Biblical Hermeneutics.’ The things that are somewhat distinctive about my approach are:

  • I’m aiming to set interpretation of the Bible within a rigorous understanding of general (philosophical) hermeneutics – as theologically critiqued
  • This means that in historical overview, I go back to Plato, who has been of crucial importance for philosophical hermeneutics, even though this hasn’t often been emphasised in biblical studies’ appropriation of that field
  • At the same time, I don’t want to finish with a theological-philosophical model of language/understanding; I want to apply this model to the actual practice of Christian biblical interpretation
  • So I consider the significance of some key issues for Christian biblical interpretation: theology, canon, gospel
  • And I end up applying things very practically to exegesis
  • And I see the goal of the hermeneutical task as transformed discipleship

Anyway, here’s the overview of what we’re covering…

Seminar 1: The nature of the discipline of hermeneutics

  • Relevance
  • Definitions
  • Models
  • Outcomes

Seminar 2: The history of the study of hermeneutics

  • Socrates and Plato
  • Augustine and Chrysostom
  • Bede and Aquinas
  • Luther and Calvin
  • Schleiermacher and Dilthey
  • New Criticism and New Hermeneutic
  • Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Thiselton
  • Jauss and Reading Contexts

Seminar 3: General and special hermeneutics

  • Hesitations about general hermeneutics
  • Theological hermeneutics? Theological interpretation?
  • A way forward

Seminar 4: Responsible biblical hermeneutics: general and theological foundations

  • The God who is true
  • The God who accommodates
  • The humans to whom the true God accommodates: human communication as involving otherness, openness, dialogue, refinement, and impact
  • Coherence

Seminar 5: Responsible biblical hermeneutics: a general hermeneutical goal and model

  • Goal: A transforming engagement of horizons
  • Model: Appreciating realm, mission, emergence, and reception, while pursuing refining questioning
  • Application of the model

Seminar 6: Responsible biblical hermeneutics: fruitful instincts for Christian interpretation

  • Theology
  • Canon
  • Gospel

Seminar 7: From hermeneutics to exegesis

  • Priming for exegesis, in accordance with our hermeneutical model
  • Refining understanding dialogically: questioning the text from the level of the word to the level of the discourse
  • Linguistic issues in exegesis
  • Writing an exegesis paper

Seminar 8: Methods: help and hindrance

  • Rationales for methods
  • Evaluating specific interpretative approaches
  • A Variety of Strategies and Perspectives
  • Developing an orientation of expectant curiosity

Seminar 9: Interpreting the Old Testament

  • The Old Testament as dialogue partner
  • The Old Testament as Christian Scripture
  • A case study

Seminar 10: Interpreting the New Testament

  • The New Testament as dialogue partner
  • The New Testament as Christian Scripture
  • A case study: Paul? The value of considering Pauline Corpus, Mission, Biography, Influence; my realm, mission, emergence, reception – and then being inquisitive about the text, and bringing this to bear on our situation today

Today was day one of a week long MA intensive, teaching ‘Advanced Biblical Hermeneutics.’ I’m exhausted already! Still, it’s a good and communicative group of people, so looking forward to the rest of it.

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