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GLOBAL INTERPRETATIONS OF CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES

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  1. GLOBAL INTERPRETATIONS OF CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES RLST 206 DIV/REL 3845 Jan 24, 2011

  2. Today • 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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)…

  6. >>> 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. Articles on History of Christianity of CDC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  19. Articles on Denominations and their worship2.367 billion Christians/readers of the Bible Roman Catholics 1.150 billion Other 28 M Protestants 471 M Independents 357 M Orthodox 275 M Anglicans 86 M

  20. 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%.

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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);

  24. ALL Interpretations of Scripture are Contextual • Reading Scripture for believers = discerning a ‘Word-to-live-by” …. Relating this text to their contexts • 4 WAYS INTERPRETATIONS ARE CONTEXTUAL: • 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).

  25. 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.

  26. 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]

  27. A text (Luke or Colossians) is a complex discourse

  28. 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 )

  29. 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

  30. TEXTUAL CHOICES • 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?

  31. TEXTUAL CHOICES • 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

  32. TEXTUAL CHOICES • 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.

  33. Text, Religious experience, Life

  34. 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

  35. Inculturation • 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.

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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

  39. 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”

  40. Tersa Okure, SHCJ

  41. 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)

  42. 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?

  43. 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.

  44. Christ/Scripture and Culture

  45. 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..

  46. 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.

  47. 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.)

  48. 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.