Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let the reader understand: Theology, History & Literature

In his prodigious volume A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters, Andreas Kostenberger has the following helpful schema for biblical interpretation:
Interpreters of Scripture are faced with three inescapable realities they need to address in their interpretive practice:
(1) The reality of God and his revelation in Scripture (theology)(2) The existence of texts containing that revelation that require interpretation (language and literature)(3) The reality of history...the fact that God's revelation to humans...conveyed by the biblical texts, took place in human history.
In essence, therefore, the interpretive task consists of considering each of the three major elements of the "hermeneutical triad" in proper balance: history, language or literature, and theology, with the first two elements being foundational and theology occupying the apex. (p. 42-44)
Theology is mediated through history and literature, through the events of history recorded and interpreted in the text of Scripture. But that same theology is also communicated by, among other things, the specific genres, literary devices, word choice, and structure of each book in the canon. The implications of this are considerable for interpreters be they readers in the pew or preachers in the pulpit.

Let the reader understand.

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