Presentation on theme: "Approaches to Studying the Christian Bible Before 1500s: Catholic Approaches Predominate Pre-Critical: Questions of historical background or credibility."— Presentation transcript:
Approaches to Studying the Christian Bible Before 1500s: Catholic Approaches Predominate Pre-Critical: Questions of historical background or credibility are sometimes noted, but not pursued. Centered: The central message or purpose of the whole Bible (the “rule of faith”) governs the reading of specific passages. Community-Governed: Readings are subject to a community of faithful, informed readers (centralized in Western Europe, decentralized elsewhere). Problematic passages, especially, are treated figuratively (metaphorically, allegorically, typologically, etc.).
Approaches to Studying the Christian Bible 1500s-1700s: Protestant Approaches Emerge Pre-Critical: Questions of historical background or credibility are sometimes noted, but not pursued, except for textual criticism. Centered: The central message or purpose of the whole Bible (“grace alone” “what preaches Christ” “the promises”) governs the reading of specific passages. Community-Informed: Individual reading is encouraged; no communal authority is officially recognized; but ancient creeds and one’s Church’s doctrinal statements are highly influential). Figurative readings are not allowed, except for typology, or unless the genre of the passage (e.g., Psalms, parables) calls for them. Problematic passages are sometimes explained as God’s “accommodation” to us.
Approaches to Studying the Christian Bible 1700s-Present: Modern Approaches Emerge Critical: Questions of historical background, politics, accuracy and credibility become paramount. De-Centered: The possibility of a central message or purpose is put on hold; passages that seem different are studied on their own terms. Academy-Governed: Readings are subject to a community of scholars, regardless of their beliefs. Eventually, most scholars are active and welcome in their Churches. Examples: Source Criticism, Form Criticism, Redaction Criticism, lives of Jesus, the Jesus Seminar
Approaches to Studying the Christian Bible Late 1800s-Present: Anti-Modern Approaches Emerge Anti-Critical: The Bible’s presumed accuracy and consistency (including scientific and historical claims) must be defended against any questioning. Suspicious: Almost all critical scholarship is seen as part of a secular humanist conspiracy. Apologetic: Scholarship is selectively engaged for the purpose of refuting prevailing theories. Doctrine-Governed: Individual reading is encouraged, as long as it confirms the doctrines of a certain movement. No new scholarly approaches are developed: the finality of some pre-critical approach is presumed at the outset. Examples: Fundamentalism, Dispensationalism, much of Evangelicalism
Approaches to Studying the Christian Bible Early 1900s-Present: Post-Modern Approaches Emerge Post-Critical: Questions of historical background, accuracy and credibility are welcomed, but are not paramount. Diversely Centered: Interpreters’ differing convictions, hunches, loyalties and suspicions need to be named and allowed to inform (but not control) their interpretations. (Sometimes these differ within the same interpreter!) Conversational: Interpreters need to remain accountable to one another, even when they keep moving in different directions. Examples: Existentialist readings, Hermeneutic Theory, Narrative readings, Canonical readings, Liberationist readings, Social Standpoint readings, Mimetic Theory, Post-Colonial readings, some Evangelical/Emerging Church readings, who knows what else? Post-Modern Reminder: This is my account of post-modern approaches, partly as they seem to be, partly as I want them to be.