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Interpreting the Gospels: MATTHEW RLST 210/Div 3152 Fall 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Interpreting the Gospels: MATTHEW RLST 210/Div 3152 Fall 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interpreting the Gospels: MATTHEW RLST 210/Div 3152 Fall 2011

2 M-Aug. 22 Introducing the semester 3:10-4:10 Getting to know you Methods for Reading the Gospels: Different analytical choices 4:15-4:55 Roundtable Discussion: Exercise: Luke 17:11- 19 5:00-5:30 Plenary: Discussion of your Interpretations

3 Introducing the Semester Amy Allen, 2 nd year Ph. D. candidate NT & T&P Arthur Francis Carter Ph.D. candidate NT soon ABD, Dissertation on Acts as Diaspora Discourse Daniel Patte Because we will function as a seminar, despite the number (and a group of undergraduates will join us next week), Each of us will lead a “roundtable” for which you will have signed up to discuss YOUR interpretation of a text as compared with others’ interpretations Today we will break up in two groups, where we will get acquainted with you

4 Introducing the Semester We will progressively read the entire Gospel according to Matthew Reading in Greek? Any of you? Please stay a few minutes after class to see if we can find a time each week to read passages of Matthew in Greek. You will formulate for the passage for the week what is according to you the most significant teaching of this passage for specific present-day believers (of your choice) We will compare your weekly interpretations with those of three commentaries.

5 Introducing the Semester Each class meeting will have three segments. 1) Plenary: Lecture on Methods for Reading the Gospel of Matthew or specific issues of interpretations 2) Roundtable Discussion of Your own reading of an assigned section of Matthew 3) Plenary: Reports from the groups; different interpretations of key themes

6 Catalog Description: INTERPRETING THE GOSPELS Your own interpretations of Matthew is also a topic for this class Along with diverse interpretations by Biblical scholars And interpretations reflecting the reception of Matthew through the history of the church, and more recently in Catholic and Protestant churches after the Holocaust, in African ‑ American churches, and in feminist circles.

7 Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore & Ted A. Smith “Forming Doctoral Students for Seminary Teaching” (Proposal for the Theology and Practice Program) Two Questions that consistently stumped candidates fresh from outstanding graduate schools: 1) How would the introductory course [e.g. on the Gospels] help prepare students for ministry? 2) What do you think ministers really need to know about [the Gospels] in order to lead people in lives of faith and action? How do you help students learn those things? Call for a “Reimagining” of theological education which “goes hand-in-hand with reimagining practice” i.e. what is going in this classroom, the structure of this class.

8 Following Bonnie Miller-McLemore and Ted Smith What do you think ministers really need to know about the Gospel of Matthew in order to lead people in lives of faith and action? How would this “seminar” on the Gospel of Matthew help you prepare for ministry—as pastors, lay-leader, teacher in a seminary? – How do you envision your future “ministry”? (introduce yourself!) – What difference does it make when ministry is viewed as that of a “pastor”, “counselor,” “teacher,” “preacher,” “priest,” “prophet,” other models?. What “pedagogical practice” is needed? What “pedagogical practice” is counter-productive?

9 How could this course on Matthew help prepare students for ministry? 3 Goals religious formation; creating “a formational community responding to a call to continuing conversion of mind and heart.” Roman Catholic: model=the ancient Greek paideia, philosophical and historical reasoning; critical thinking, analysis, and reasoned reflection. David Kelsey (The Uses Of Scripture In Recent Theology, 1975, Between Athens and Berlin: the Theological Education Debate, 1983 (see pp. 9-10 & 13). ) “critical in that it begins by requiring justification of all alleged authorities or bases of truth” Protestants/Div Schools ministerial practice. The goal is graduates who have the skills to be effective preachers and worship leaders, teachers and administrators, counselors and group leaders, and congregational and public leaders. Association of Theological Schools – “Theological Education” Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity by Daniel Aleshire & Barbara Wheeler

10 This SEMINAR helps prepare for the practice of ministry in these 3 ways… for better or for worse Promote continuing conversion of mind and heart (Roman Catholic model; Greek paideia)… YES, hopefully Promote “critical” thinking, analysis, and reflection requiring justification of all alleged authorities or bases of truth ” (Protestants/Div School model) … YES, hopefully Give us skills needed to be effective preachers, worship leaders, teachers, and/or congregational and public leaders (Association of Theological Schools)… YES, hopefully But this might be for better or for worse

11 Pedagogical models presupposing a “Banking System” are Problematic Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) Freire rejects the “banking” concept of education ….. as an instrument of oppression; the essence of education is the practice of freedom; – Also Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (1973)

12 “Banking System” e.g., a preacher Preaching on Matthew = telling to the congregation what is “the” “true” meaning of a given passage of this Gospel. Presupposes: you people in the pew do NOT know what is “the” “true” meaning of Matthew… Forget what you think you know about Matthew, erase it, so as to learn (=put in your knowledge-bank) the truth. Is this not what a preacher as “teaching elder” (PC USA title for preacher) is suppose to do?

13 “Banking System” e.g., a teacher In this class, I would teach you what is “the” “true” meaning of the Gospel According to Matthew. Presupposes: students do NOT know what is “the” “true” meaning of Matthew… Forget what you have heard from preachers, what you have understood by yourself, what you think you know about Matthew, erase it, so as to learn (=put in your knowledge- bank) the truth about Matthew, which in my extraordinary wisdom I will “download” in your minds-computers!

14 “Banking System” Pedagogical Model is common, but a disaster In the pulpit, result = The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church: A Study in Hermeneutics (by James D. Smart, 1970). Why should we read the Bible on our own since we will shown to be wrong? Better wait for the preacher to explain it to us. Also, “strange” view of the role or the preacher. Preacher = expert, with special qualifications, special knowledge, imparting it “down” to ‘his’ congregation

15 Alternative to the Banking System in the pulpit See recent book by Kathleen Cahalan Introducing to the Practice of Ministry reviewed in the Christian Century, July 12, 2011, by Eileen R. Campbell-Reed emphasizing NOT the identity of the minister (the qualifications of the minister as expert) as separated from her/his role, BUT the practice of ministry as central So, not giving you a superior “identity” and authority as minister, so that you ‘lord over others’ But equipping you for the practice of a ministry as followers of Christ the crucified servant, who serve rather than be honored/served, who deny selves

16 “Banking System” Pedagogical Model is common, but a disaster In the classroom, results = Silencing the students Treating you as babies, toddlers, who know nothing; Denying that you know how to read… & understand; Denying any value to your prior knowledge, Denying any value to your religious experience Denying any value to your cultural experience Denying any value to your community experience = apartheid; colonialism; that engenders racism, sexism, etc.

17 Pedagogical Alternatives to the Banking System should Not be oppressive: acknowledging that students have knowledge (know how to read), have valuable experiences, etc. Not demand a tabula rasa, a clean slate; students should not be asked to forget what they know; Affirming the value of the students’ & readers’ knowledge and experience

18 Your interpretations will be respected because: We expect you have insights into the text and its significance for believers that the rest of us do not have; and that we need to learn from you; – ALL OF YOU ARE TEACHERS IN THIS SEMINAR… Yes we are many, but we will work as a seminar. – Roundtable… everybody is equal – Do not worry: We also have something t teach you! We will learn from you by appreciating what is different in your interpretation Your interpretation will be deemed to be legitimate, plausible, and valid, until proven otherwise, and not vice-versa.

19 But, this is not Critical Biblical Studies, is it? (Kelsey) Yes, it is! Contrary to what I taught for many years (your view?) Step # 1: Exegesis (Gk. "leading out of" [the complexity of a text]). Detailed exposition and explanation of the texts of Scriptures – “Establishing what the text meant” Krister Stendahl “Biblical Theology” IDB = the task of biblical scholars Step # 2: Hermeneutics. Exposition of “what the text means” for people today, on the basis of “what the text meant”. For Stendahl = the task of theologians and preachers.

20 A class on Matthew will teach you What the author of the Gospel of Matthew truly taught through a detailed exposition, explanation and interpretation of “what the text meant” (Exegesis) So that you can figure out on this basis “what the text means” for people today (Hermeneutics) on the basis of “what the text meant” (Exegesis) Yes. What I taught for many years. No. It is NOT what I will teach you in this class

21 Because, I discovered That what I taught for many years – Exegesis “Establishing what the text meant” – Hermeneutics. Exposition of “what the text means” for people today, on the basis of “what the text meant” Is neither critical, nor ethically responsible …

22 Because, I discovered in 1990 That what I taught for many years – Step # 1 Exegesis “Establishing what the text meant” Step # 2 Hermeneutics. Exposition of “what the text means” for people today Is neither critical – “Critical in that it begins by requiring justification of all alleged authorities or bases of truth” (Kelsey); – Being critical demands we acknowledge the choices of “authorities” we made by emphasizing one or another aspect of the text; nor ethically responsible … I silence and oppress others by pretending not having made culturally, contextually and religiously marked interpretive choices

23 Being Critical Involves Acknowledging that Any reading of a Biblical text A literal reading, a symbolic reading, or an exegetical reading By a believer or by a biblical scholar Is an interpretation (not merely the ‘reproduction’ of what the text says) that involved Choosing to focus on one aspect of the text as most significant (rather than others) In terms of the reader’s specific life-context (the needs in her/his context), and In terms of the reader’s religious experience (or lack of)

24 Your interpretations will be respected because: We, the teachers, will strive to be critical by acknowledging the culturally, contextually and religiously marked interpretive choices involved in our own interpretations – Please let us know when we forget to do so We will strive to be critical by clarifying the interpretive choices involved in each scholarly interpretation of Matthew. We will assume that your own interpretations involve similar interpretive choices and that, in turn, you will strive to be critical by clarifying your own interpretive choices. Thus, we expect to learn from you by appreciating what is different in your interpretation.

25 PEDAGOGICAL GOALS (as listed in your syllabus) becoming responsible readers of the Gospels, with a solid knowledge of the Gospel of Matthew and with the recognition we have the ethical obligation to account responsibly for the great variety of interpretations which we encounter. Learning – a) to understand how Christian believers interpret the Gospel of Matthew as Scripture; – b) to appreciate the role of religious, cultural, and social contexts in interpretation; – c) to know and appreciate the historical, sociological, literary, rhetorical, and religious character of the Gospel of Matthew (and the Synoptic Gospels)

26 Scriptural Criticism (further discussed next week)

27 Scriptural Criticism is the name given to the approach presented above Any reading of a Biblical text A literal reading, a symbolic reading, or an exegetical reading By a believer or by a biblical scholar Is a SCRIPTURAL interpretation – One can never forget that for believers it is a “Word-to-live-by” That chose to focus on one aspect of the text as most significant In terms of needs in the reader’s given life-context In terms of the reader’s religious experience (or lack of)

28 Theological/Contextual reasons: Carlos Abesamis (Manila, 1996) A WORD-TO-LIVE-BY “When I teach the Bible, I always have before my eyes these crowds of people, and this amazing thing that 2/3 of them live-by the Bible! Not perfectly, of course, but who is perfect! But they strive to live-by the Bible.”

29 Theological/Contextual reasons: Carlos Abesamis (Manila, 1996) A WORD-TO-LIVE-BY “I constantly read the Bible with them.” – Listening to them; learning from them; teaching them. – Not reading for them (banking view) – Not reading to them (banking view) Contextual reasons: “no” to oppression Theological reasons: Children of God; Spirit Critical Reasons: we always make a choice

30 Critical Reasons for Scriptural Criticism To recognize that Christian believers and scholars are always making a choice among several possibilities of relating the teaching of the Bible to life – Culture, Religious experience, – Contexts Nothing Wrong with this: related to textual choices = choosing as most significant one of the aspects of each Biblical text. (Critical Methods)

31 Being critical is acknowledging the choices we made—and justifying these choices David Kelsey, theological education is “critical in that it begins by requiring justification of all alleged authorities or bases of truth....” Scriptural Criticism = demands that our choices of interpretations be justified: Textually Theologically Contextually

32 A pedagogical goal of this class: Being Critical Not acknowledging that our interpretation (whatever it might be) involves textual, cultural, religious, contextual/ethical interpretive choices is not being critical But acknowledging these choices is not easy: we cannot recognize that we made choices by introspection; we need others, whose different interpretations we respect because they are different from ours We need your different interpretations

33 Being Critical Is to acknowledge your choices with the help of others & To Assume Responsibility for your choice of interpretation Analytical choices Theological choices Contextual choices

34 In any “interpretation of Scriptures” 3 factors involved Any reading the Bible as a Word-to-live-by is framed by a) the believers’ vision of life, structured by religious experience and culture; b) their concerns and commitments in the concrete social, economic, political reality of their life-context, and thus to their “ideology”; c) their view (intuitive perception) of what is most significant in the biblical text.

35 Scriptural Criticism -- see form

36 We have made a Textual-Analytical Choice = ONE of the exegetical methods What the author meant—the argument, the intentional message. Textual criticism, Philology Historical quest for the “historical Jesus” Form criticism Redaction criticism Narrative criticism Literary criticism History of religion: comparison with Judaisms (plural) & Greco- Roman religions Anthropological and sociological criticism: Honor and shame; Jesus movement; institutionalization; urban Christians Political and post-colonial criticism, written under the Roman Empire

37 CONTEXTUAL CHOICES: Needs Believers Have in A Life-Context – see form these needs/problems might concern – A) Their private or individual life? – B) Their life in family? – C) Their life in a Christian Community? – D) Their life in society (at work, at school, in their social life)? – E) Their life in a culture (with its vision of the purpose of life, its values, its ideologies, its philosophies)? – F) Their life in relationship with people with different religious convictions? What is the most important need or concern?

38 What is the root problem for the Needs in this Life-Context? – see form A) A lack of/wrong KNOWLEDGE? Of what? B) A lack of ABILITY? To do what? C) A lack of/wrong WILL? To do what? D) A lack of/wrong Ideology? What kind? E) A Lack of/wrong FAITH/VISION? What kind?

39 Roles of Scripture – see form A) LAMP TO MY FEET that teaches believers KNOWLEDGE of what they should do (Do what?) or, of what they are called to do (what are they called to do?). B) RULE OF THE COMMUNITY that conveys EITHER a KNOWLEDGE of what they must do to belong to the community (Do what?) OR, through demands or threats (of exclusion), establishes the WILL (to do to what?) OR posits an IDEOLOGY; C) GOOD NEWS that conveys EITHER KNOWLEDGE of God’s love (In which way?) OR, expresses God’s love and establishes their WILL (to do what?) as a response to God’s love.

40 Roles of Scripture – see form D) FAMILY ALBUM that conveys to them EITHER an IDEOLOGY OR a FAITH/VISION of their identity as members of God’s family and thus, calls them to a special vocation and establishes their WILL (to do what?) E) CORRECTIVE GLASSES that gives them a VISION of God’s presence in their lives (where in their lives?) and/or show them that God is at work in their lives; secondarily, this vision EMPOWERS/ENABLES them or establishes their WILL (to do what in imitation of God?) AND/OR an IDEOLOGY. F) EMPOWERING WORD that gives them the POWER/ABILITY to struggle for the kingdom and God  s justice (by overcoming what difficult situation?). G) HOLY BIBLE that shatters their view of life by giving them a new FAITH/VISION (of what?).

41 Scriptural Criticism -- see form

42 See form. Exercise in Roundtable Groups Formulating a teaching of Luke 17:11-19 for Christian believers Before going to Group: We will read the text together now. In Group: identify contexts in which Christian believers need a teaching from this text Then, formulate this teaching Part A & B of the form Discussion: Compare and contrast your interpretations, each introducing herself or himself in the process After discussion we will come back together briefly with a report from a scribe.

43 What is the teaching of this text for certain believers today? Luke 17: 11-19 NRSV On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!“ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

44 For context: Luke 17:7-21 NRSV 7 "Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'? 8 Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'" [Dou/loi avcrei/oi, evsmen( o] wvfei,lomen poih/sai pepoih,kamenÅ YLT We are unprofitable servants, because that which we owed to do -- we have done.']

45 For context: Luke 17:20-21 20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.“ Is within you. h` basilei,a tou/ qeou/ evnto.j u`mw/n evstinÅ” NIV KJV YLT


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