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Unit 4. The Interpretive Journey New Testament. Letters Gospels Acts Revelation. Name from recipients. Name from writer. New Testament Letters Pauline General Romans Hebrews 1, 2 Corinthians James Galatians 1, 2 Peter Ephesians 1, 2, 3 John Philippians Jude Colossians

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The interpretive journey new testament

Unit 4

The Interpretive JourneyNew Testament

  • Letters

  • Gospels

  • Acts

  • Revelation


Name

from

recipients

Name

from

writer

New Testament Letters

PaulineGeneral

Romans Hebrews

1, 2 Corinthians James

Galatians 1, 2 Peter

Ephesians 1, 2, 3 John

Philippians Jude

Colossians

1, 2 Thessalonians

1, 2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon


Paul’s letters are quite long by ancient standards, averaging 2,495 words. (R. Richards)

Why did Paul need the extra space?

NT includes more informal, personal letters (like Philemon) as well as more formal letters (like Romans)


  • Authoritative substitutes for the author's personal presence

    • Substitute for personal presence

    • Authoritative substitute

      (Christ’s representatives)

  • Situational – written to address specific situations or problems in the churches

    • To clarify an issue (Thessalonians)

    • To address a doctrinal problem (Colossians)

    • To confront the ethical behavior of readers (James)


Reading a NT letter is a lot like listening to one end of a phone conversation.

  • Implications of the occasional nature of letters

    • Never meant to be read as exhaustive dictionaries of doctrine

    • Be careful not to conclude too much from any one letter

      Galatians – freedom

      1 Corinthians – obedience

  • Reconstruction the original situation that called for the letter in the first place


“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” —Revelation 1:3

“After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” —Colossians 4:16

  • Intended for the Christian community

    • Meant to be read aloud again and again to the church

  • Meant to be exchanged with other churches


  • Standard form of a and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” —Revelation 1:3NT letter

  • Form of NT letters

    Standard form of a contemporary letter

Introduction

Writer Recipients Greeting

Body of the letter (largest section focusing on the specific situation)

Conclusion (a variety of elements normally ending in a grace benediction)

Date

Name Address

Greeting,

Body of the letter

Closing & signature


  • How to interpret a NT letter and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” —Revelation 1:3

    • Step 1 Grasp the text in their town

      • Read the letter from beginning to end, the way letters are meant to be read. This will give you a sense of the big picture.

      • Reconstruct the historical-cultural context of the biblical writer and his audience.

      • Identify the literary context of your particular passage.

      • Determine the meaning of the text for the biblical audience (observe, observe, observe!)


  • Step 2 – Measure the width of the river and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” —Revelation 1:3

    For NT letters the river is usually not very wide, but there are exceptions.

  • Step 3 – Cross the principlizing bridge

    • Look for the broader theological message reflected in the text. To find theological principles in letters ask yourself the following questions:

      • Does the author state a principle?

      • Do you see a principle in the surrounding context?

      • Do you see a reason behind a particular command or instruction?


  • Does your theological principle satisfy the following criteria:

    • It should be reflected in the biblical text

    • It should be timeless and not tied to a specific situation

    • It should not be culturally bound

    • It should be consistent with the teaching of the rest of Scripture

    • It should be both relevant to both the biblical audience and the contemporary audience

  • Step 4 – Grasp the text in our town


  • Nt gospels

    Matthew criteria:Synoptic Gospels Mark “see together” Luke

    John

    NT – Gospels

    • Introduction

      • Gospelg “good news”

      • Four Gospels gfour different versions of the one story of Jesus


    Gospels 47% Acts 13% Paul’s Letters 23% General Letters 10% Revelation 7%

    • Gospels in the NT

    • Two main concerns:

      • What are the Gospels? (literary genre)

      • How should we read the Gospels?


    • What are the Gospels? Acts 13% Paul’s Letters 23% General Letters 10% Revelation 7%

      • Stories

      • Stories of Jesus drawn from the personal experience of his followers, especially his apostles

      • But different from modern biographies

        • Do not cover the whole life of Jesus

        • Often arrange events and sayings topically rather than chronologically

        • Give a lot of attention to the last week of Jesus’ life

        • Do not include a detailed psychological analysis of Jesus


    • Gospels are Acts 13% Paul’s Letters 23% General Letters 10% Revelation 7%ancient biographies rather than modern biographies

      • Not obsessed with strict chronological sequencing

      • Variation in wording

      • Variation in order of events

    • Christ-centered or Christological biography

    • Two purposes of the Gospel writers:

    • 1. To tell individual stories of Jesus

    • 2. Through the individual stories of Jesus, to say something important to their readers


    • How should we read the Gospels? Acts 13% Paul’s Letters 23% General Letters 10% Revelation 7%

      • Our method of reading the Gospels must match the means God used to inspire them.

      • Here we turn the two purposes of the Gospel writers into two interpretive questions:

    • What is the main message of this particular story?

    • 2. What is the Gospel writer trying to say to his readers by the way he connects the smaller stories?


    • Question 1 – How do we read individual stories? Acts 13% Paul’s Letters 23% General Letters 10% Revelation 7%

      • Ask the standard story questions:

        Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

      • Look for interpretive clues from the author himself.

      • Take note of anything that is repeated in the story.

      • Pay careful attention to direct discourse.

    • Question 2 – How do we read a series of stories?

    Look for Connections

    • Common themes or patterns

    • Logical connections (e.g., cause and effect)

    • How stories are joined to together (transitions, conjunctions)

    • Role of key characters


    • – a truth is overstated for effect

      • “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” – Matthew 5:29

    Exaggeration

    • Special literary forms in the Gospels?

    • – implicit or implicit comparison

      • “You are the salt of the earth.” – Matthew 5:13

      • “You are like whitewashed tombs” – Matthew 23:27

    Metaphor & Simile


    Narrative Irony effect

    – contrast between what is expected and what actually happens

    “And I'll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.’” – Luke 12:19-20

    • – questions designed to make a point rather than retrieve an answer

      • “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – Matthew 6:27

    Rhetorical Questions


    Parallelism effect

    – two or more lines of text that are intended to be read together

    • Synonymous – lines say basically the same thing

    • Contrastive – second line contrasts with the first line

    • Developmental – second line advances thought of first

    • What kind of parallelism is the verse below?

      “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7


    Parables effect

    – a story with two levels of meaning, where certain details in the story stand for other things

    • A story where every detail stands for something else?

    • A story with only one point?

    • A story with one main point for each main character


    • Conclusion effect

      • Gospels g good news of Jesus Christ

      • Four versions of the one story of Jesus

      • Christological biography

      • Two interpretive questions:

        • What is the main message of each story?

        • What is the Gospel writer trying to say to his readers (and to us) by the way he connects the smaller stories?


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