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GLOBAL INTERPRETATIONS OF CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES. RLST 206 DIV/REL 3845 Jan 24, 2011. Today. a) 3:10 Contemporary Models for the Interpretation of Scriptures: “ INCULTURATION HERMENEUTICS” b) 4:00 Presentation of Readings of Scripture in Nigeria:

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RLST 206 DIV/REL 3845

Jan 24, 2011


  • a) 3:10 Contemporary Models for the Interpretation of Scriptures: “INCULTURATION HERMENEUTICS”

  • b) 4:00 Presentation of Readings of Scripture in Nigeria:

    • Luke by Annie Wong and Colossians by Mark Wells

  • c) 4:15 Group Discussion (examples of Inculturation):

    • Luke: Leader: Adesewa Adelekun

    • Colossians: Leader: Ben Pflederer

  • c) 4:55. Comments on discussion

  • d) 5:00 Lecture:Classical Models for the Interpretation of Scriptures: JEWISH INTERPRETATIONS OF SCRIPTURE: Pharisees, Midrash, Targum

Today Group # 1 LUKE

  • Leader (her reading vs. GBC): Adesewa Adelekun

  • Annie Wong (presenter of GBC)

  • Wendy  Aluoch

  • Basye Holland

  • Lakendra Scott

  • Anna Keith

  • Jessica Nieto

Today Group # 2 COLOSSIANS

  • Leader (his reading vs. GBC):    Ben Pflederer

  • Mark Wells (presenter of GBC)

  • Anna McReynolds

  • Iris Ankrom-Critenden

  • Matthew Calderwood

  • Arlonzo Williams

  • Chance Dillon

  • Erin Higgins

  • Jordan Nelson

  • Taylor Schomp

Welcome to some of you… Finally!

  • Hope you found helful Julian Bond’s last week lecture

  • Why study Global Interpretations of Scripture? Because there are many interpretations of the same Scripture out there, and the VERY COMMON ATTITUDE IS

  • Of course, our own interpretation –and that of our church, whatever it might be—is right

  • And all the other interpretations are wrong, heretical, meaningless, not faithful to the text; if they disagree with us… because they are ignorant, naïve, stupid, from an inferior culture (a non-Western culture)…

>>> Sunday Feb. 13:replacing Monday Jan 17

  • Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church; attending the “The Divine Liturgy” (10 AM worship service)

  • followed by a question/answer period with the Priest, Fr. Gregory Hohnholteither

  • meeting at 9:30 AM to about noon

  • in preparation of our discussion of Greek Orthodox interpretations of the Gospel of John and Hebrews

  • Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church 4905 Franklin Pike Nashville, TN 37220 Cars?

Why study Global Interpretations of Christian Scriptures? Appendix # 1 A & B

  • (See end of the syllabus) Three Parts

  • A. To learn about distinctive interpretations of the Bible as Christian Scriptures around the world.

  • B. To Learn What is involved in any “interpretation of Scriptures.”How it is related to:

    • a) the believers’ vision of life, structured by religious experience and culture;

    • b) their concerns in the concrete social, economic, political reality of their life-context, thus their “ideology”

    • c) their view of what is most significant in the biblical text.

Why study Global Interpretations of Christian Scriptures? Appendix # 1 C

  • C- To recognize that Christian believers and scholars are always making a choiceamong several possibilities of relating the teaching of the Bible:

  • to their cultures(from “total separation” to “inculturation”)

  • to their religious experiences(from ardent spiritual experiences to total lack of such experience in a secular life; sacramental/liturgical);

  • to their life contexts(from concerns for the needs of people every where to concerns exclusively limited to people close to us— inter(con)textual and liberation interpretation).

  • by choosing as most significantone or another aspect of each biblical text. Analytical choice

Scripture = A Word-to-Live-by

  • Believers’ readings of Scripture are necessarily incarnated, and thus inculturated. = Word-to-live-by

  • So >>> a great diversity of interpretations of the same Biblical texts as living Scripture by Christians from many traditions and many cultures, including from the Southern Hemisphere where the majority of Christians are.

  • With the Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, learn about 2.367 billion readers of the Bible

Quiz! (Numbers from World Christian Encyclopedia, David Barrett, ed. (Oxford 2001, updated on line)

  • Knowing that the world population is now about 6.5 billion people

  • What are the four top religions in the world today (2009)?

  • Alphabetical order: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam.

  • Buddhist = about 400 million

  • Hindus = about 900 million

  • Islam = about 1.5 billion (with “b”)

  • Christianity = about 2.3 billion; no tiny minority! … we ignore Christians in other parts of the world!

Articles on History of Christianity of CDC

CDC Article History of Christianity in Latin America (c511 M, growing)

CDC History of C. in Europe (with Eastern Europe & Russia) 2000: c531 M (going down)

CDC History of C. in Africa (2000) c389 M 1/2 Charismatics/Renewalists and AICs. (growing fast)

CDC History of C. in Asia(c312 M, growing fast)

CDC History of C. in North America (c260 M, stable; move to Independents)

CDC History of C. in South Pacific & Australia (c25 M, stable)

CDC History of C. in the Middle East:Syriac Christianity > 5 M (going down)

Articles on Denominations and their worship2.367 billion Christians/readers of the Bible

Roman Catholics

1.150 billion


28 M


471 M


357 M


275 M


86 M

Nigeria (1 of 150 entries on Christianity in…)

  • History of Christianity in Nigeria 2000 statistics:

  • 111.5 million (M)

    • Based on World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001.

    • Main Ethnic Groups: Yoruba, 17.5%; Hausa, 17.2%, Igbo, 13.3%, Toroobe Fulani, 4.9%, Yerwa Kanuri, 3.0%

  • Christians, 51 M, 45.9%

    • Independents =AICs, 21 M; Anglicans, 20 M; Protestants, 14 M; Roman Catholics, 13.4 M; (17 M doubly affiliated)

  • Muslims, 49 M, 43.9%;

  • African Religionists, 11 M, 9.8%.

Why study Global Interpretations of Christian Scriptures? A)

  • To learn about distinctive interpretations of the Bible as Christian Scriptures around the world. Why? (Why not simply Western scholarly interpretations?)

  • a) Because most of the readers of the Bible are Christian believers who read these texts as SCRIPTURE—a fact that one cannot afford to bracket-out be it in religious studies, critical studies of the Bible, or in theology;

  • b) Because 2/3 of Christian readersof the Bible arein Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania, as well as in Eastern Europe and the Middle East

  • Only 1/3 of the readers of the Bible are in Western Europe and North America

Learning from distinctive interpretations of the Bible around the world is possible

  • We can and have to learn from African, Asian, Latin American readings of the Bible

  • Because there is NOliteral meaning of the Bible

  • Because there is NO literal reading (aka fundamental/literal interpretation of the Bible)

  • Rather than speaking of “THE literal interpretation” of a text

    • as if there was only one,

  • throughout this semester you will have to become specific and explain the nature or character of each specific “literal interpretation”… INCLUDING OURS

Becoming self-conscious about the contextual character of our interpretations

  • 1) “reading with ordinary readers”

  • 2) paying attention to the ways in which our readings “affect certain groups of people”

  • 2) studying the history of reception of biblical texts (early Jewish receptions; in the New Testament; and later through history up to today),

  • 4) “breaking biblical texts” (using traditional ways of reading, particular to each culture);

ALL Interpretations of Scripture are Contextual

  • Reading Scripture for believers = discerning a ‘Word-to-live-by” …. Relating this text to their contexts


  • 1) Inculturation (examples from African scholars);

  • 2) Liberation (examples from Latin American scholars)

  • 3) Inter(con)textual (examples from Asian scholars);

  • 4) Sacramental/liturgical (examples from Eastern Orthodox scholars).

Learning about distinctive interpretations of the Bible around the world is necessary

  • Nothing wrong with adopting “what the text obviously means” for us PROVIDED that we recognize that we have implicitly chosen an interpretation

  • FOR THIS, we need other interpretations, from

    • Other cultural contexts,

    • Other socio-economic contexts

    • Other religious contexts

  • THESE “OTHER” INTERPRETATIONS (if we respect them) HELP US recognize that “what the text obviously means” (aka = its literal meaning) for us is an interpretation.

    • choosing certain aspects of the text as most significant for us

    • And ignoring other aspects of the text… which are “obviously” the most significant for people in other contexts.

Why study Global Interpretations of Christian Scriptures? B)

  • B. To gain a solid understanding of:

  • 1) What is involved in any “interpretation of Scriptures.” How it is related to:

  • a) their view of what is most significant in the biblical text. [Analytical Choices = A]

  • b) the believers’ vision of life, structured by religious experience and culture; [Hermeneutical, Theological Choices = H]

  • b) their concerns and commitments in the concrete social, economic, political reality of their life-context, and thus to their “ideology” [Contextual Choices = C]

A text (Luke or Colossians) is a complex discourse

Acknowledging What a Text Is

  • A text (Luke or Colossians) is a complex discourse:

  • 1) What an author/speaker wants to sayto an audience (to do something; convey pieces of information, knowledge; e.g., propositional truth; views, ideas) – intention of author/speaker

  • 2) What an author/speaker says out of her/his heart (convictions, passion) (what drives the person to speak, to do something; un-intentional; sub-conscious)

  • 3) What the author/speaker says in order to communicate – to be convincing--to an audience (using the language & views of the intended audience; rhetoric )

Acknowledging What a Text Is

  • Intendedmessage;

  • Convictions (self-evident truths that motivate the speaker)—not necessarily the intended message

  • Other views – carried out by the language used to communicate = common language with the hearers, images, figures of speech; world views, which the speaker expects the hearers to know, and possible share


  • A Text/Discourse = Several Potential Meanings

  • Example: Lecture at Vanderbilt in 1986 by a white South-African scholar.

  • Intentional message: clearly expressed by the argument: join us in the struggle against apartheid and racism in South Africa; this is what many of us heard.

  • But is it the only message? The true one?


  • But the African-American students heard a very different message.

  • To convince us: emphasized the plight of black Africans, describing them as child-like, in need of education, so that they will move away from their backward culture.

  • the demeaning metaphors and other figures of speech

  • Convey racism


  • Which is most important? As Word to live by

    • The Intentional message?

    • The Unintentional message?

  • Same thing for any religious texts:

    • The Intentional message? E.g. Paul writing to Corinthians

    • The Unintentional message? His convictions/faith

  • We have a choice.

Text, Religious experience, Life

Inculturation: Contextual Choice

  • An interpretation is spontaneously chosen because “it makes sense in our culture”

  • Which culture?

  • For several of us in this room = European-American middle class culture; for others, African-American, Nigerian, etc.

  • Is this wrong? No. We need to make sense of biblical text in our culture


  • The Biblical texts and the “gospel” have always been “understood” in terms of a culture

  • In terms of High culture—literature, art, famous persons; great philosophers; politicians; etc

  • First in terms of Jewish common cultures: daily-life; view of the world

    • Plural: Sadducees, Pharisees, Apocalyptic , Zealots

  • Also/mainly in terms of Hellenistic common cultures

    • Plural: philosophy of the street; stoicism; and neo-Platonism; multi-cultural,

  • This is appropriate: the Bible is itself cultural.

“Inculturation hermeneutics: An African Approach” pp. 17-32 in Dietrich & Luz, ed. The Bible in a World Context.

Justin Ukpong

Inculturation: Justin Ukpong Step 2

  • The Inculturation mode of reading is “a contextual hermeneutic methodology that seeks to make any community of ordinary people and their sociocultural context the subject of interpretation of the Bible…

  • “The goal is sociocultural transformation focusing on a variety of situations and issues.”

    • Justin Ukpong, “Inculturation Hermeneutics,” pp. 18-18 in The Bible in a World Context

  • What needs to be interpreted is the concrete life-context of the readers… the Bible is a means (a tool) to interpret one’s life context.

  • Inculturation: Justin Ukpong Step 1

    • Step 1 in Studying the inculturation of the Bible:

    • “Appraising the cultural-human dimension of the Bible in respect of its attitude to, and evaluation of, “other” peoples and cultures

    • The Bible is not (culturally and ideologically) an innocent text.

      • a) appropriation of certain religious traditions;

      • b) in terms of a particular religious experience;

      • c) for a certain context (including culture, ideology), because of needs

    Inculturation: Justin Ukpong Step 2

    • It is God’s Word in human language, which implies human culture with its ideology, worldview, orientation, perspective, values, and disvalues that are intertwined with the Word of God.

      • Ancient Near Eastern Context (Israel)

      • Jewish context

      • Hellenistic context

    • Step 2: “Reading the Bible to appropriate its message for a contemporary context.

    • This involves engaging a biblical text in dialogue with a contemporary contextual experience so as to appropriate its message in today’s context”

    Tersa Okure, SHCJ

    Inculturation: Teresa Okure

    • Reading Colossians as a means to make sense of her present life-context in Nigeria

    • The Lordship of Christ and the Uniqueness of Christ as Lord and Savior

      • Can be understood as a doctrine

      • And the rest of Colossians can be understood as a moral teaching

  • Or can be a window or corrective lenses through which one can make sense of one’s life-context

  • The issue is not Jesus’ Lordship in itself (a doctrine)

  • But the conviction that Jesus is Lord of the world in which we live (in her case Nigeria)

  • Inculturation: Teresa Okure

    • Her community of ordinary people (the divided churches in Nigeria) is the sociocultural context which is the subject of interpretation of her interpretation of Colossians

    • Colossians changes for her the way to see the concrete situation in Nigeria, and of the diversity of churches there.

    • Because it demands to recognize that Christ IS LORD of this context… whether or not people recognize him as Lord is irrelevant = Christ IS LORD.

    • For believers, the question is: What does it mean fo live in a context where Christ IS actually Lord?

    Assessing the INCULTURATION H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (1951)

    • Christ/Scripture against Culture.

    • The Christ/Scripture of Culture.

    • Christ/Scripture above Culture.

    • Christ/Scripture and Culture in Paradox.

    • Christ/Scripture the Transformer of Culture.

    Christ/Scripture and Culture

    Culture Tanner, Kathryn. Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology. 1997

    • Traditional/sociological view: culture is a human civilization characterized by a certain posited vision of the ideal life (cosmos ; essence) and ideal values (nomos, and ideology as fixed)

      • Issue: identifying the truly civilized culture (Western culture); assessing it/refining it; then enforcing it in one’s life, and on anybody else. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy (1967)

    • Anthropological conception: culture is the vision of life and values (ideology) presupposed by a particular people’s practice of everyday life.

      • Issue: understanding the culture lived by a people; assessing it; then eventually helping the people to develop a better way of life for themselves..

    Assessing the INCULTURATION H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (1951)

    • Christ/Scripture against Culture. Christianity is an alternative to the existing culture; converts must choose either to follow Christ/Scripture or to remain in the “evil world” or “paganism.”

    • The Christ/Scripture of Culture. Christ as “Son of God” [Scripture as both Divine Word] and “Son of man” [S = Human Word] that affirms the cultural and religious heritage of peoples. The gospel = the fulfillment of culture, not a threat to it (Matt 5–7) Scripture, the “word for all cultures” helps people discern and live according to God’s will in the context of their respective cultural and religious traditions.

    Assessing the INCULTURATION H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (1951)

    • Christ/Scripture above Culture = distinction between the heavenly city and earthly city (Augustine), Christianity = transcendentalist; “salvation” in heaven and the future; the needs and demands of the present are irrelevant.

    • Christ/Scripture and Culture in Paradox. Christ/Scripture is BOTH identified with AND contrasted with culture. The church is in the world, though it is not of the world (Protestant Reformation; Luther). But when is Christ/Scripture in support of or against culture? (Missionaries: in support of our culture; against native cultures.)

    Assessing the INCULTURATION H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (1951)

    • Christ/Scripture the Transformer of Culture. Christ/the Word makes all things new (Rev. 21:5). Conversion = a challenge for converts to change their ways and become new beings (e.g. Paul = from “persecutor” to “apostle”).

      • “Transformation” presupposes that the earlier way of life is not abandoned, but transformed through the adoption of new insights and commitments.

      • Problem with Mission: Ingredients of transformation are most often taken from the culture of the missionaries. African elite blamed the modern Christian missionary enterprise for the cultural alienation of Africans.

    Today Group # 1 LUKE

    • Leader (her reading vs. GBC): Adesewa Adelekun

    • Annie Wong (presenter of GBC)

    • Wendy  Aluoch

    • Basye Holland

    • Lakendra Scott

    • Anna Keith

    • Jessica Nieto

    Today Group # 2 COLOSSIANS

    • Leader (his reading vs. GBC):    Ben Pflederer

    • Mark Wells (presenter of GBC)

    • Anna McReynolds

    • Iris Ankrom-Critenden

    • Matthew Calderwood

    • Arlonzo Williams

    • Chance Dillon

    • Erin Higgins

    • Jordan Nelson

    • Taylor Schomp


    • true justice has its source in God, is inherent in the Divine Nature – the Triune God (Orthodox)

      • justice is the kind of relation that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and between God and creation and Jesus Christ and the world

      • Humans can only approximate this (divine) justice

    • interhuman justice as divine command (HB Prophets):

      • distributive justice (tsedeq) e.g. a redistribution of wealth as a condition of divinely mandated distributive justice; fairness;

      • the vindication of the wrongly accused or the violated and vulnerable (mishpat). retribution amid wrongdoing, and an impartial treatment of all persons in all settings (womanist justice)

      • Justice vs unbridled avarice and arrogance of the powerful


    • Justice in NT = dikaiosyne (translated as both “justice” and “righteousness” or justification)

    • Both individual’s relation to God (= righteousness, justification)

    • And Social relations = Individuals relations with others (= justice) = characteristic of a good society

      • distributive justice (tsedeq) e.g. a redistribution of wealth (cf. rich young man and Jesus)

      • the vindication of the wrongly accused or the violated and vulnerable (mishpat).

      • Justice vs. human incapacity for justice , sin

      • Retributive justice = God’s punishment of sinful humanity … overcome by divine mercy through Christ

    • Justice vs. cruel, selfish, unkind, oppressive, exploitative, or callous toward others (African & Latin American views of Justice)


    • Justice through the law: forensic justice resolves the apparent contradiction between justice and mercy --- the judge may pronounce the verdict that a guilty person is to be regarded as if innocent

    • Justice beyond the law understood to be social justice that takes the form of welcoming and making an individual commitment to the other.

    • Latino/a Justice: the creation of relationships that enable people to fulfill their humanity (as children of God) (part of the “preferential option for the poor”)

    Mission (CDC; Phan)

    • Mission as Proclamation and Witness to Save Souls.

      • Primarily Matt 28:19–20.

    • Mission as Planting the Church.

      • Luke 14:23. In this parable, the master orders his servants to go to the roads and country lanes and bring everybody to the banquet so that his house may be full.

    • Mission as Serving God’s Kingdom of Truth, Love, and Justice.

      • Luke 4:18–19, Jesus’ mission of preaching the good news to the poor, releasing captives, giving sight to the blind, setting the oppressed free

    Mission (CDC; Phan, Veronis)

    • Mission as Dialogue.Mission as reflecting the mystery of God’s incarnation. (Phan)

      • John 1, Matt 1-3; Luke 1-2. The dialogue is fourfold: dialogue of life, which entails living with people of non-Christian faiths; of action (collaborating with them in projects of peace and justice); of theological exchange (learning from their different beliefs and practices); and of religious experience (praying with them) … all this as a way of finding the most effective way to carry out God’s mission amid cultural diversity, religious pluralism, and massive poverty

    • Mission as create indigenous Eucharistic communities (= which experience God’s loving presence) while respecting the indigenous culture, using the local language (Veronis; Orthodox)

      • Eucharist = great joyfulness in the presence of God, “who ever loves humankind,”

      • Prayer, experience of God’s loving presence is essential “The theologian is the one who prays, and the one who prays is a theologian.” (Orthodox Church; Demetrios Trakatellis)

      • Offering translations of Holy Scripture and the Divine Liturgy, creating an alphabet and writing system when necessary, and training indigenous leaders


    • 1. Faith as Faithfulness. God’s (Christ’s) faithfulness to God’s promises and Human faithfulness to God

    • 2. Faith as Trust:as trusting God

    • 3. Faith as Believing a Speaker’s Words (“Believing That”); believing in the words of Scripture

    • 4. Faith as leading to true Knowledge “Believing in order to understand ” (Augustine) or “faith seeking understanding” (Anselm)

    • 5. Faith as Movement toward, and Experience of, God. (“believing in” God or Christ)

    • 6. Faith as Gift (from God) that puts believers in the right relationship with God

    Jesus and the Canaanite WomanMatthew 15:21-28 & Its Contextual Interpretation

    • 21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.“ 23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.“ 24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.“ 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me.“ 26 He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs.“ 27 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.“ 28 Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.

    Jean Colombe’s Artistic Interpretation: Assess its inculturation

    • Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, (15th century)

    • Above, Jesus turns away from the Canaanite woman who implores him despite the scorn of the apostles;

    • in a house at the right we see a woman trying to comfort the little girl who is sick tormented by a demon. It might have been inconceivable for Colombe to imagine the mother leaving her ill child alone, thus the companion.

    Jean Colombe’s Artistic Interpretation

    • The text is a quotation of Psalm 25: it may represent the words of the woman. It begins with v. 6: “Remember, O LORD, your tender mercies and your loving kindnesses, for they are from of old” and ends with v. 22: “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all its anguishes.”

    • In the smaller miniature below, the Canaanite kneels before Jesus, who is touched by the perseverance of her faith and makes a gesture of consent; the apostles now seem to share their master's feelings.

    Assessing the INCULTURATION:Which one?

    • Christ/Scripture against Culture.

    • The Christ/Scripture of Culture.

    • Christ/Scripture above Culture.

    • Christ/Scripture and Culture in Paradox.

    • Christ/Scripture the Transformer of Culture.

    Text, Religious experience, LifeInculturation?

    • Contextual choices: concrete life-context; power/authority structure; ideology; etc.

      • One aspect of inculturation.

    • Theological – Hermeneutical choices: on the basis of our (positive or negative) religious experience

      • Another aspect of inculturation.

  • Textual choices = choosing what is most significant in the text

    • Most significant … for this context)

  • Today Group # 1 LUKE

    • Leader: Julie Franks

    • Dustin Frye

    • Luis Menendez

    • Yolanda Marie Archibald

    • Ho Donng Hwang

    • Bridgett Green

    • Febbie Dickerson

    • Devin Williams

    • Matt Samples

    • Jean Xiao

    • Ezra Chu

    Today Group # 2 COLOSSIANS

    • Leader: Tamesha Derico

    • Scribe: Lauren Ross

    • Katye Stone

    • Jill Schock

    • Lori-Jene Brazier

    • Mike Kiggins

    • Ali Sevilla

    • Colette Jackson

    • Allison Morris

    • Imani Ellis

    • Rebecca Faulkner

    • Allie Kovar

    • Lee Perkins

    Global Interpretation of Christian Scriptures

    Classical Models of Interpretation of Scripture: Pharisaic/Rabbinic interpretation of Scripture

    COVENANT as Jewish Hermeneutical-Theological Frame

    • Pharisees (Rabbinic Judaism in formation)

    • Apocalyptic groups (Zealots, Qumran)

    • Sadducees

    • Shared Basic Conviction: We are the Chosen People of God . . .

    • Shared Basic questions/concerns: How to remain the Chosen People? How to be the Chosen People? Why?

    Jewish Interpretations of Scriptures


    • Interpret Scripture = Tanakh = Torah Prophets/Nebiim Writings/Ketoubim

    • Explicit views of Scripture = Torah « defile the hands” = sacred text; what is read; the writings

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: Explicit Views Of Scripture

    • Why is Scripture sacred? Torah is the complete, final, immutable revelation : “everything is revealed on Mount Sinai”

      • More than the written text.

  • in the world to come God teaches Torah. = Wisdom (Prov 8:22ff) with God at the creation; blueprint of creation = God’s Wisdom.

    • = before and beyond the written text.

  • Given to Israel = God giving himself to Israel

  • Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: Explicit Views Of Scripture

    • to recite or read Torah = being in the Presence Shekinah [G’D] “where two or three are gathered and exchange words of Torah the Shekinah is with them.

    • thus Torah = surrogate of the Temple

    • taking the yoke of Torah = taking the yoke of Heaven [G’D]

    • Torah = water (gratis, priceless, brings life) wine; fire, wife

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees View Of Scripture (1)


    • In Synagogue

    • Cycle of readings; Torah (seder) prophets (haftarah) (verbal tallying)

    • Translation = Targum

    • Homilies; stringing texts together (pearls)… a text, interpreting another text, interpreting another text…. Back to the first text. (eventually written down = Midrash)

    • Targum = same thing as homilies… explain the text, in terms of other texts.

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: Synagogue (2) Haggadic interpretations

    Some Hermeneutical principles:

    • 1) Everything is meaningful in Scripture;

    • 2) Scripture is to be explained by Scripture;

    • 3) Synthetic view of scripture and of sacred history/ “telescoping” “ There is no before and after in scripture” (one of 32 middoth rules): ex: nights of creation, of Abraham (covenant, Gen 15), of Aqedah (sacrifice of Isaac), of Passover, eschatological night of Messiah

    • = sacred history is closed:God acted/revealed in the past, the sacred past of sacred history; will act/reveal in the future; in between there is no new revelation Everything is revealed on Mt Sinai

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: Synagogue (2) Haggadic interpretations

    Some Hermeneutical principles (continued):

    • 4) Theological developments in Targum =not systematic theology = haggadah = (sacred) stories = a listening to scripture

    • 5) Some actualization of scripture = circle of scripture interpreting scripture is broken – but primarily halakic (back to this later)

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: Synagogue (4) Liturgical Haggadah

    • All liturgy = scripture = participating in liturgy (prayers, songs, readings, translations/targums, homilies) = entering Scripture

    • Entering Torah = being constituted as the people of God

      • = example of Passover Seder = we went out of Egypt

    • We are the people of Israel described in Scripture

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: Covenant

    • Covenant:

    • a) God’s intervention, redemption from slavery = election;= haggadah (past)

    • b) Vocation: people of priest for the nations; haggadah = sanctification of the Name

    • C) Law = how to walk: halakah

    Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: School: Halakah Sanctification of the Name

    • Oral Torah = living tradition= harmonize Torah and life

      • Beyond the written Biblical Text (as Torah was with God, before the creation)

  • Gezeroth = teaching independent from Scripture

  • Takkanoth = teaching radically changing the teaching of Torah = Prosbul of Hillel

  • Sanctification of the Name

  • Early Rabbinic/Pharisees: School: Halakah Sanctification of the Name

    • Making a fence around Torah

    • Always changing and growing tradition: Mishnah, Talmud; reinterpreted in terms of the new situations in life;

    • Here Revelation, Scripture = open; on going; discerning what is God’s will = how to sanctify the name today

    • Being faithful = adapting, changing…

    COVENANT (Exodus 19 & 20) as Hermeneutical/Theological Frame:

    • For Pharisees and Rabbis:

    • Election (as the Chosen People of God) = God’s freeing the People from bondage = saved from bondage = done; closed revelation

    • Vocation (to be a people of priests = Sanctification of the Name) closed revelation

    • Law = Way to walk… How to fulfill this vocation (to sanctify the Name) open = always new ways for new contexts (inculturation)

    Exodus 19:3-6

    • 3 "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6 but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites."

    Exodus 20:1-4

    • 1 Then God spoke all these words: 2 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3 you shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol,


    • Pharisees = One Covenant

    • Election: complete = everything has been revealed on Mount Sinai (Oral and Written Torah)

    • Haggadah: Closed sacred history Liturgy; interpreting Scripture by Scripture (Midrash)

    • Halakah: needs to be reinterpreted again and again (Mishnah, Talmud, constantly interpreted in terms of social, cultural situation)

    Apocalyptic people: e.g. Qumran

    • Apocalyptic = New Covenant (people still in bondage)

    • Election: God is electing, choosing a remnant/a new faithful people = new interventions of God

    • Typology; Prophecy are fulfilled

    • Haggadah = Open sacred history, ongoing activity of God , establishing and reestablishing the covenant through choosing/calling a new people, through interventions of power

    • Halakah = Very strict; AS BY PRIEST IN THE TEMPLE

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