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Archive for the ‘bible interpretation’ Category

Having just finished our Saturday Weekly Series on Hermeutics and the Covenants, I thought it was good to put all in one location the outlines of all three hermeneutics courses we have on our blog.  Lord willing, sometime in the future I want to make a fourth level hermeneutics course on Logic for Biblical Hermeneutics.

I think it’s important for Christians in terms of spiritual life, practical theology, systematic theology and apologetics to be conscious of our hermeneutics.  To that end, I hope this would be helpful.

LEVEL ONE: INTRODUCTION TO HERMENEUTICS

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session One: Introduction

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Two: How Should We Study Theology? Issues of Sources and Authority

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Three: Doctrine of Special Revelation

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Four: The Doctrine of the Self-Attesting Word of God

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Five: Doctrine of Inerrancy and Ramifications for Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Six: Doctrine of Biblical Clarity

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Seven: The importance of Words and Grammars

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eight: Context Part I: The Immediate Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Nine: Context Part II: The Chapter and Book Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Ten: Context Part III: The Entirety of Scripture

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eleven: The Aid of Natural Revelation in Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Twelve: Hermeneutics and Apologetics

LEVEL TWO: BIBLICAL GENRES (LITERARY FORMS)

SESSION ONE: DEFINITION OF GENRE AND DO THEY EXIST?

SESSION TWO: THE IMPORTANCE OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

SESSION THREE: PROSE I: OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVE

SESSION FOUR: PROSE II: OLD TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE

SESSION FIVE: PROSE III: LAW

SESSION SIX: POETRY I: WHAT IS HEBREW POETRY?

SESSION SEVEN: POETRY II: LAMENT

SESSION EIGHT: POETRY III: PRAISE

SESSION NINE: POETRY IV: PROVERBS

SESSION TEN: POETRY V: OTHER HEBREW WISDOM

SESSION ELEVEN: PROPHECY I: ANNOUNCEMENT OF JUDGEMENT

SESSION TWELVE: PROPHECY II: ORACLE OF SALVATION

SESSION THIRTEEN: PROPHECY III: APOCALYPTIC

SESSION FOURTEEN: NEW TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE/ GOSPELS

SESSION FIFTEEN: EPISTLES

APPENDIX SESSION ONE: PARABLES

APPENDIX SESSION TWO: INTER-RELATIONSHIP OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

a-covenant-with-god

LEVEL THREE: BIBLICAL COVENANTS

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Joel and Obadiah by Busenitz

I wish more commentaries of the Bible were like this one: plenty of exegetical insights into the Hebrew texts with vast lexical notes and some grammatical and syntactical observations. I appreciated how the author’s insightful is useful for those studying the Hebrew text for expository preaching while at the same time it’s not so technical that it cease being beneficial for a knowledgeable lay reader. The bulk of the commentary is on the book of Joel rather than Obadiah. I appreciated the introductory materials on Joel here, especially since there’s so much scholarly debate about the book and how Joel has so little internal evidence in regards to authorship, dates, etc. Dr. Busenitz does a good job in the commentary of surveying different positions concerning introductory and background matter, and offer reasons for the conclusions he lands on (rare in commentaries these days). There’s been many occasion as I read the text from Joel I was wondering what was going on, and Busenitz’s commentary has been helpful. I definitely recommend this whether you need a commentary to read along with your devotional or if you need a commentary that touches on the Hebrew text for your exposition.

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a-covenant-with-god

I. Definition

a. A Near Eastern form of literature that offers “a binding agreement between two parties…”[1]

b. “Covenant in the OT essentially incorporates a legally binding obligation.”[2]

II. Two forms of Covenants

a. Note: Covenants appear throughout the Ancient Near East during the era of the Old Testament.  It seems that the Old Testament intentionally structure the format that appear around them.[3]

b. Voluntary partnership

i.      Both parties enter into the covenant voluntarily.

ii.      The terms of the covenant is agreed upon bilaterally.

iii.      Examples include Jacob and Laban (Genesis 31:54) and David with Jonathan (1st Samuel 18:3-4).

c. Imposed by a superior on a subordinate

i.      “It usually designates an agreement made to or for, not with, the subordinate, depicting a legally binding promise which one party makes toward another.”[4]

ii.      The terms of the covenant is agreed upon unilaterally.

iii.      Examples include Noahic, Abrahamic and Davidic Covenant.

III. Elements of a Covenant

a. Pledges or gifts

b. Signs

i.      “Though similar to a pledge or gift, which was given when enacting a human covenant, the sign of a divine covenant was generally a repeatable memorial.”[5]

ii.      Examples include: Circumcision and the Rainbow.

c. Witnesses

Can be others or God

d. Consequences

i.      Blessings

1. Obedience to the covenant bring forth good fruits.

2. Positive consequences.

ii.      Curses

1. Disobedience to the covenant bring forth severe punishments.

2. Negative consequences.

e. Promises

i.      Covenants are forms of promises.

ii.      Covenants with God depends on God to fulfill it.

f. Conditionality

i.      This is only for covenants that are of voluntary partnership.

ii.      Not the case for covenants that are unilateral.

IV. Identifying Biblical Covenants in the Bible

a. By Biblical covenants, this syllabus is referring to covenants that include God as a party.

b. We can only know the covenants that God made from what He has revealed to us in His Word.

c. Given the above, there is no room for any man-made ideas of covenants that are the result of speculations.

d. Therefore, Biblical covenants are identified by what the Scripture explicitly identify as covenants.

i.      While covenants are promises, not every promise is a covenant.

ii.      As a result, covenant can only be identified when it is called a covenant.

V. Importance of Covenants in Hermeneutics

a. It is a frequent theme found in the Scriptures

i.      “The covenant idea itself, first mentioned in Genesis 6 during the days of Noah, is intricately woven into the fabric of the biblical account all the way through to Revelation 11 where the “ark of His covenant” reappears in the temple. The word itself occurs in 27 of 39 OT books and in 11 of 27 NT books.”[6]

ii.      Given how frequently it is mentioned, it is important to understand the Covenants that appear in the Bible.

b.      It is God’s promise found in the Scriptures

i.      Covenants are the thread that goes through the entire Bible.

ii.      The Bible is about God as the Hero: He is the one who will keep His promises.

iii.      “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.  In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold ofthe hope set before us.”  (Hebrews 6:16-18)

 


[1] Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer, Readings From the Ancient Near East, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic), 96.

[2] Irvin Busenitz, “Introduction to the Biblical Covenants: The Noahic Covenant and the Priestly Covenant”, The Master’s Seminary Journal, Volume 10 Number 2 (Fall 1999), 173.

[3] Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer, Readings From the Ancient Near East, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic), 96.

[4] Irvin Busenitz, “Introduction to the Biblical Covenants: The Noahic Covenant and the Priestly Covenant”, The Master’s Seminary Journal, Volume 10 Number 2 (Fall 1999), 176.

[5] Ibid, 178.

[6] Irvin Busenitz, “Introduction to the Biblical Covenants: The Noahic Covenant and the Priestly Covenant”, The Master’s Seminary Journal, Volume 10 Number 2 (Fall 1999), 173.

 

GO TO PART 2

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Bible 2

 

Ideally in a perfect world, I would love to develop and teach a four level hermeneutics course and lecture series.  Level One would be Introduction to heremeneutics.  Level two on the Literary Forms/Genres found in the Bible.  Level three would be on the covenants of the Bible and it’s hermeneutical implications.  Finally level four would be a course on Logic.  Then there’s other hermeneutical topic that deserve to be taught in it’s own right as well (perhaps as an elective?): how does the NT uses the OT, and Finding Christ in the Scriptures, etc.

I have made Level one and two available online.

Beginning next Saturday, Lord willing we will feature outlines as teaching aides going over the covenants that are explicitly found in the BIble that has hermeneutical implications.

It will be a short series.

Stay tune!

And pray!

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The Most Misused Verses in the Bible

This is free for a limited time on Kindle.  Thanks to Challies for the head’s up!   It’s always good to be conscious of our hermeneutics in interpreting the Bible and watch for fallacies in our interpretation so this work sounds pretty neat in that regards.

To download, click HERE.

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William Barrick

Central Seminary recently asked Old Testament professor Dr. William Barrick to speak for their MacDonald Lecture series on the topic of Biblical creationism and Biblical authority.

These are hot topics today during a time where people attack the subject of Biblical creation, the historicity of Adam and the hermeneutics of Genesis.

Listen to them, follow along with the PDF document, enjoy it and be equipped!

General Sessions

Creation Outside Genesis   PDF

The Historicity of Adam    PDF

The Problem of Death       PDF

The Creation Record: Is It Poetry?     PDF

Question and Answer Sessions

Monday Q & A

Tuesday Q & A

UPDATE: To have this save on your device as a podcast, click HERE.

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I did enjoy this commentary. For readers who are unaware, Fitzmyer is a Roman Catholic but I did not find his tradition really coming out (for instance, his interaction of the word “saints” in Philemon is interpreted to refer to believers in general, not SAINTS, and he did not have any further discussion about that point of saints and SAINTS). In the past I have used various commentaries from this series and I think this volume is one of the better ones (there are some whacky ones in this series). I read this work primarily for my exegetical preparation for preaching, so in terms of it’s usefulness for the exegete I thought that this work was worthwhile in terms of the materials for the readers to interact with, though I feel that there was more that Fitzmyer could have said. By saying that this work is worthwhile, I do not mean that I agree with every interpretative decision made by the author, only that they were not outrageous or out of bounds where he landed. From time to time there were historical, lexical, grammatical and syntactical insights that I gained about the Greek text from reading Fitzmyer, that I didn’t not see on my own.

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This was a good exegetical commentary. If this is the model of what is to be expected in this new series of commentary (the Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament), then it’s definitely work keeping an eye out for this series. While I do not agree with Dr. Blomberg on everything (he has a simplistic view of politics, etc), I do appreciate the exegetical insights found in this book.  For the expositor, there are good nuggets of grammatical, syntactical and lexical insight into the Greek text of the epistle of James.  Blomberg also interacts with previous commentators also as well.  The format was also excellent and user friendly. I wish more commentaries would look like this format in this series!

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We have just finish posting the outlines for an introductory and genre hermeneutics series I use when I teach on this topic.  For the sake of convenience, I’ve posted the links to both series here.

I think it’s important for Christians in terms of spiritual life, practical theology, systematic theology and apologetics to be conscious of our hermeneutics.  To that end, I hope this would be helpful.

LEVEL ONE: INTRODUCTION TO HERMENEUTICS

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session One: Introduction

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Two: How Should We Study Theology? Issues of Sources and Authority

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Three: Doctrine of Special Revelation

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Four: The Doctrine of the Self-Attesting Word of God

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Five: Doctrine of Inerrancy and Ramifications for Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Six: Doctrine of Biblical Clarity

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Seven: The importance of Words and Grammars

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eight: Context Part I: The Immediate Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Nine: Context Part II: The Chapter and Book Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Ten: Context Part III: The Entirety of Scripture

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eleven: The Aid of Natural Revelation in Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Twelve: Hermeneutics and Apologetics

LEVEL TWO: BIBLICAL GENRES (LITERARY FORMS)

SESSION ONE: DEFINITION OF GENRE AND DO THEY EXIST?

SESSION TWO: THE IMPORTANCE OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

SESSION THREE: PROSE I: OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVE

SESSION FOUR: PROSE II: OLD TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE

SESSION FIVE: PROSE III: LAW

SESSION SIX: POETRY I: WHAT IS HEBREW POETRY?

SESSION SEVEN: POETRY II: LAMENT

SESSION EIGHT: POETRY III: PRAISE

SESSION NINE: POETRY IV: PROVERBS

SESSION TEN: POETRY V: OTHER HEBREW WISDOM

SESSION ELEVEN: PROPHECY I: ANNOUNCEMENT OF JUDGEMENT

SESSION TWELVE: PROPHECY II: ORACLE OF SALVATION

SESSION THIRTEEN: PROPHECY III: APOCALYPTIC

SESSION FOURTEEN: NEW TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE/ GOSPELS

SESSION FIFTEEN: EPISTLES

APPENDIX SESSION ONE: PARABLES

APPENDIX SESSION TWO: INTER-RELATIONSHIP OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

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GO TO APPENDIX ONE

I. Introduction

a. You have probably heard the saying “Let Scripture interpret Scripture”.

b. Throughout this series on hermeneutics and Genre course, one can see the inter-relationship of Genre.  This inter-relationship of genres is important in interpretation.

c. One more fully appreciate the principle of “Let Scripture interpret Scripture” in seeing how one particular genre of Scripture can shed interpretative light of another genre of Scripture.

d. This appendix summarizes how each genre can be further illuminated by another genre of Scripture. (NOTE: This outline is not exhaustive)

e. This outline might be helpful as a guide to the hermeneutics of proper cross-referencing.

II. Interpretative insights of a Biblical passage in light of similar genre

a. Find if there are other places that are similar in Genre and see if there is new information provided to get a more fuller pictures.

Example: Looking at the four Gospels to get a picture of one incident.

b. Pay attention to progressive revelation: Are their more information provided in later revelation of the same Genre?

Example: Book of Revelation gives more details of prophecies than Isaiah, Daniel, etc.

III. Interpretative insights of a Biblical passage in light of other genre

a. Old Testament Narrative

i.      Proverbs: Are there any particular wise proverb that address the particular slice of reality of this text?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospels: Has Jesus and the early church authoritatively preach on this text, revealing insights within the text or further details?

iii.      Epistles:

1. Similar to New Testament Narrative, does the Epistles offer any insights into the text or further details?

2. The Epistles are especially helpful in giving theological interpretation of Old Testament Narratives.

b. Old Testament Historical Narrative

i.      What applies for Narrative above (insights from Proverbs, New Testament Narrative/Gospels and Epistles) applies here as well.

ii.      Narrative: Are their any Covenants and promises described previously in Old Testament narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

iii.      Laws: This provides the biblical standard of norms to make a moral judgment of the event in the Historical Narrative.

iv.      Lament and Praise Poetry: Does the Psalms provide further insight of the difficulties or celebration of the events in the Historical narrative?

v.      Announcement of judgment and oracle of salvation: Are there any prophetic books that occur simultaneously with the events going on?

c. Old Testament Laws

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Provides the historical and situational circumstances that the Laws are prescribed to.

2. Also, are their any Covenants and promises described previously in Old Testament narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

3. Are their examples of laws illustrated?

ii.      Praise and announcement of judgment: Are their any given perspectives of the Law of God provided in these genres?

iii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospels and Epistles: Does these genres reveal any Old Testament Laws are no longer applicable for today?

d. Lament and Praise

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Provides the historical and situational circumstances that the Lament or Praises Psalms are prescribed to.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises described previously in Old Testament narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel and Epistles: Did the New Testament further expounded on these texts?

e. Proverbs

i.      Laws: Since Proverbs is by nature “slice of reality”, it is also important that any imperative is seen within the boundary of the Law.

ii.      Epistles: Again, since Proverbs is by nature “slice of reality”, it is also important that any imperative within Proverbs be viewed within the boundary of the commands and prohibition of the New Testament.

iii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel and Epistles: Did the New Testament further expounded on these texts?

f. Other Hebrew Wisdom

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative: Provides the historical background.

ii.      Law, Proverbs and the Epistles: Especially in the “Counter-Wisdom” literatures, it is important to interpret things in light of the theological and moral boundaries of Scripture.

g. Announcement of Judgment

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Can provide the historical background of when the text was written.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises of curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

ii.      Law: What are God’s command and prohibition that God is not pleased with, that result in this announcement of judgment?

iii.      Oracle of Salvation and Apocalyptic: In light of the doom and gloom of Announcement of Judgment, is there any hope to be found in the Oracle of Salvation o r the Apocalyptic Genre?

h. Oracle of Salvation

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Can provide the historical background of when the text was written.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises of blessings described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

ii.      Announcement of Judgment: Oracle of Salvation is seen as good news in light of the announcement of judgment.

iii.      Apocalyptic: Are there further expansion and details of hope to be found in Apocalyptic genre that can illuminate the oracle of Salvation?

i. Apocalyptic

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Can provide the historical background of when the text was written.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises of blessings and curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that are being described as being fulfilled in this particular text?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel and Epistles: Did the New Testament further expounded on these texts?

j. New Testament Narrative/Gospel

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

Are there any Covenants and promises of blessings and curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that are being described as being fulfilled in this particular text?

ii.      Law: Are there certain behavior and manners that needs to be understood in light of the Old Testament Law?

iii.      Lament, Praises, Announcement of Judgment, Apocalyptic: Are there any prophecies that are being fulfilled here

iv.      Epistles: Are there further theological explanations of historical realities to be found in the epistles?

k. Epistles

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative and New Testament Narrative/Gospel:

1. Are their any illustrations found in the Epistles that comes from these narratives and require previous background familiarity of these narratives?

2. Are there any Covenants and promises of blessings and curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that are being described as being fulfilled in this particular text?

ii.      Lament, Praises, Announcement of Judgment, Apocalyptic: Are there any prophecies that are being fulfilled here?

l. Parables

i.      Law: Are there certain behavior and manners that needs to be understood in light of the Old Testament Law?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel: Does the rest of the Gospels happen to provide information important to understanding the parable’s details?

iii.      Epistles: In regards to one’s interpretation of the Parables, is it within the boundary of theological and moral orthodoxy as expounded in the Epistles?

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GO TO PART XV

I. Identifying Parables

a. Definitions

i.      Popularly defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.[1]

ii.      Stein holds that it is“A figure of speech in which there is a brief or extended comparison.”[2]

iii.      Comes from a Greek term “parabole” which “means literally to ‘throw alongside,’ and that’s what parables do.  They make comparisons.  They align one thing next to another to clarify the second.”[3]

iv.      “Realistic stories, simple in construction and didactic—in purpose, that convey religious truth and in which the details often have a significance beyond their literal narrative meaning.”[4]

b. Three Classification

Since Parables are hard to define, as if it was on a sliding scale of forms.  It is helpful to think of it in terms of three classifications.  Here it is presented from more complex to simpler forms:

i.      Parable proper[5]

1. Also called “True parable.”[6]

2. It is story-like[7], with narrative elements of plot, character and setting.[8]

ii.      Similitude

These “are more like illustrations taken from everyday life that Jesus used to make a point.”[9]

iii.      Parabolic Sayings[10]

These are in reality metaphors and similes.[11]

II. Principles in interpreting New Testament Parables

a. Since Parable Proper is a type of narrative in its form[12], principles of interpreting narratives would apply to these parables.

b. Pay attention for “lead-in”

i.      What was stated or happening in the moment before the parable was given?

ii.      “The lead-in establishes a set of expectations in the listener/reader so that we expect the parable to illustrate a concept.”[13]

iii.      It is something like stepping on a land mine, which sets off the parable being delivered.

iv.      Example: Luke 15:2.

c. Look for obvious language of comparison

i.      Words such as “like” or “as” are indicators of comparison which is important in interpreting meanings.

ii.      Example: Matthew 13:33.

d. Pay attention to any summary of the parable given[14]

i.      Does the text itself tells us what it means?

ii.      What does the narrator who wrote the Gospels has to say?[15]

iii.      What did Jesus have to say about the parable itself?

e. Consider how the passage fits into the whole of the narrative

i.      What section of the epistles is the passage coming from?

ii.      “Sometimes the placement of the parables in the Gospel suggests meaning.”[16]

f. Find out about the historical background of the materials mentioned in the Parable.

i.      In considering the nature of parables as, the background ought to be taken seriously.

ii.      Be aware that “the various terms used in the parable evoke attitudes and responses in the reader today which are quite different from and even antithetical to those evoked in the hearers in Jesus’ day.”[17]

iii.      Example: The Samaritan mentioned in the parable of the Good Samaritan is shocking to the original Jewish hearers, and it is our job to enter into the Biblical world and understand what was going on.

iv.      Background material to the Epistle can be found within the Scriptures itself:

1. Does the Old Testament inform us of certain practices and values that can illuminate the parable?

2. Are their practices and values that is mentioned in the Gospels which put the parables object lessons in perspective?

v.      Background materials can be found outside of the Scriptures as well: 1st Century primary sources, Bible hand books, sources on archaeology, texts on history, commentaries, etc.


[1] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 15.

[2] Ibid, 22.

[3] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 103.

[4] Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 202.

[5] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 103.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 137.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 104.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 138.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 109.

[13] Ibid, 116.

[14] Ibid, 117.

[15] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 78.

[16] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 117.

[17] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 75.

 

GO TO APPENDIX 2

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GO TO PART XIV

I. Identifying Epistle

a. Definitions

i.      Letters that are found in the New Testament.

ii.      Written first century letters that was occasional documents (“arising out of and intended for a specific occasion”).[1]

iii.      “An epistle is a letter designed for wide circulation that addresses current issues and revives personal relationship.”[2]

b. Elements

i.      Six elements[3]

1. Name of the writer

2. Name of the recipient

3. Greetings

4. Prayer wish or thanksgiving

5. Body

6. Final Greeting and Farewell

ii.      Two main parts

1. Indicatives

a. The factual statement of Christian truth that a Christian ought to know.

b. Typically the bulk of indicatives are found in the beginning section of the epistle.

2. Imperatives

a. The command, exhortation and prohibition that a Christian ought to practice.

b. Typically the bulk of the imperatives are found in the ending section of the epistle.

II. Principles in interpreting Epistles

a. Remember: “A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to his or her readers.”[4]

i.      Fee goes on to write that “This rule does not always help one find out what a text means, but it does help to set limits as to what it cannot mean.”[5]

ii.      Hence this principle is the objective controlling principle regulating the following principles and other hermeneutical principles in interpreting the epistles.

b. Identify the elements of an epistle

i.      Identifying the elements are helpful keys to interpreting its function in the text.

ii.      Asking these questions might help:

1. Who is the author and what do we know about him?  Where the author located at during the writing, and what was was he going through?

2. Who are the recipients, what was their relationship to the author and where were the recipients located?

3. What was included and what was excluded in the greetings that were not typically found in other New Testament epistles?

4. What was the content of the epistle’s prayer wish or thanksgiving, and the reason for them?

5. What was the main body addressing about?

c. Consider how the passage fits into the whole of the epistle

i.      What section of the epistles is the passage coming from?

ii.      How does the passage contribute to the part, section and whole?

d. Find out the historical context of the epistle.[6]

i.      In considering the nature of epistles as a document addressing an occasion (see the above definition of the epistle), the background ought to be taken seriously.

ii.      Background material to the Epistle can be found within the Scriptures: Book of Acts.

In a fascinating interdependence of the Biblical genre, the book of Acts as a New Testament narrative help illuminates the background information for the epistles!

iii.      Background material to the Epistle can be found outside of the Scriptures: 1st Century documents, archaeology, history, etc.[7]

e. The imperatives are to be grounded in the indicatives

The epistle’s “theological worldview provides the rationale for  behavior by grounding the imperative in the indicative.  That is, the epistles command, rebuke, and exhort, but they do so on the basis of the character and work of God.[8]

f. The implication of the epistles’ indicatives are found in the imperatives

The indicatives in the epistles are to be believed and if believed, should result in a change of behavior as covered in the imperative section of the epistle.


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 48.

[2] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 152.

[3] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 46-47.

[4] Ibid, 64.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 49-54.

[7] See my outline, “The aid of natural revelation as tools in hermeneutics”, in the basic course of hermeneutics available at https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/introduction-to-hermeneutics-series-session-eleven-the-aid-of-natural-revelation-in-hermeneutics/ .

[8] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 155-6.

 

GO TO APPENDIX ONE

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GO TO PART XIII

I. Identifying New Testament Narrative and Gospels

a. Definitions

i.      Narratives is a literary form which gives historical details and it’s meaning found both in the Old and New Testament.

ii.      Gospels are a form of narrative found in the New Testament, which record the life and ministry of Jesus.

iii.      For the purpose of this outline, Gospels and New Testament narratives are considered together.

1. Principles for interpreting New Testament narratives are applicable to the Gospels.

2. Further principles for the Gospels will also be covered.

b. Where the genres can be found in the New Testament

i.      Gospels

1. Matthew

2. Mark

3. Luke

4. John

ii.      Non-Gospel Narrative

1. Acts

c. Elements[1]

i.      The essential elements include:

1. Scene

a. This is probably the most important element.

b. Scene involves sequence of event in the narrative.

2. Plot

This concerns the beginning, middle and ending of the development of the narrative.

3. Character

Who is involved in the narrative?

4. Setting

Where in space/time does this narrative takes place?

5. Point of view

ii.      Other elements:

1. Dialogues

2. Parables

3. Rhetorical devices[2]

II. General principles in interpretations

a. For New Testament Narratives and Gospel

i.      Consider how the text fits into the greater context of the section or book.

1. Each passage is part of a section that gives meaning to the greater whole.

2. The greater whole controls what each part means.

ii.      Considering the theology of the text

1. Make a distinction between descriptive and prescriptive passages.

2. Some of the accounts of events in narratives are not moral examples to emulate.

iii.      When possible, the proper interpretation of other portion of the Bible must be taken into account in interpreting particular narrative events.

1. Pay attention to antecedent theology.

a. What are prior revelation in the Bible that might shed some light on the historical narrative?

b. What theological theme previously revealed in the Old Testament is now being given fuller details in the passage under scrutiny?

2. Utilize the Epistles

Epistles can give fuller theological explanations of events recorded in the Gospel or Acts.

iv.      Asking theological questions of the text

1. What does this account tell us about God?

2. What does it tell us about the human condition?

3. What does it tell us of the world?

4. What does it tell us of the people of God and their relationship with Him?

5. What does it tell us of the individual believer’s life of faith?

v.      Watch the characters

1. Who are the main characters in the narrative?

Why are they important and what purpose do they serve in the text’s intention?

2. Who are the supporting characters in the narrative?

They are the foil for a reason, so why are they mentioned and how does this serve the text’s intention?

3. God is always in the narrative, even if He is not explicitly mentioned

This is why it is important to ask the theological questions of the text (see above).

vi.      Attention to the details of each scene

1. What has taken place previously in Biblical history at that location? Is there any significance of this?

2. What was the political and religious climate of the location?

vii.      Be conscious of the setting

There might be relevant background information that aid in interpretation.

viii.      Discern the point of view even within dialogues

1. Distinguish between dialogues and straight narrative.

2. Non-dialogues serve as the “Voice of God” about the event.

3. The words of Jesus or the prophets are authoritative!

4. The dialogue can portray the point of view of the speaker.

5. This is true unless the narrative makes it clear otherwise that the dialogue is a lie.

6. Point of view from human dialogue might not be truths from God.

ix.      Understand the plot

The plot is how each scene relates to each other!

b. For the Gospel

i.      Compare the parallel account in other Gospels

1. What are further facts given in the other Gospels about this event?

2. Why did the particular gospel made the editorial choice of what to include, and what not to include?

ii.      The teachings of Jesus must be read with care

1. What is He saying?

2. Why is He saying it?

3. How does this apply to me today?

iii.      The theological significance of Jesus miraculous works

1. It is important that these are not interpreted as prescriptive realities of the Christian life and ministry today per se.

2. It is important to understand the purpose of His miracle as testifying to the truth of Jesus as Messiah.

iv.      Implications of the Kingdom of God and the Covenants

1.      “One dare not think he or she can properly interpret the Gospels without a clear understanding of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus.”[3]

2.      In light of Jewish eschatological anticipation of the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven), how do we understand the events in Jesus ministry?

3.      What aspects of the various biblical covenants point towards Jesus have been fulfilled in His first advent, and what aspects of biblical covenants remain to be fulfilled?

a.      Fulfilled aspects of the Covenant testify to Jesus as Lord!

b. Aspects of the Covenant that remain to be fulfilled will have implications for eschatology.[4]


[1] Many of these elements are found in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives as we-ll.  Much is borrowed from the previous session on Old Testament narratives in this outline.

[2] See my basic hermeneutic course for the fundamentals of the historical grammatical approach, in which items such as idioms, hyperbole, etc must be taken into account.

[3] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 131.

[4] This is a fascinating relationship between hermeneutics (principles in interpretation), genre (Gospels) the biblical covenants and systematic theology (specifically, eschatology)!

GO TO PART XV

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GO TO PART XII

I. Identifying Apocalyptic Genre

a. Definition

i.      The word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apocalypses, which means an “uncovering, disclosure, revelation”[1]

ii.      According to Gordon Fee, it is Hebrew prophecy which “looked exclusively forward to the time when God would bring a violent, radical end to history, an end that would mean the triumph of right and the final judgment of evil.”[2]

iii.      It is the prophetic literary form that “proclaims that God has not turned his back on the world but will radically and unexpectedly intervene and introduce a universal solution that will solve all problems.”[3]

iv.      Apocalyptic genre is a prophetic literary form which seeks to comfort the faithful, and warn those who are worldly, in light of upcoming future end.

b. Further identifying aspects

i.      Apocalyptic has only one final solution: Total destruction.[4]

ii.      Apocalyptic announces that God will intervene supernaturally to bring the end of man’s sinfulness.[5]

c. Apocalypse as a composition of other genres

i.      As it is evident in our course on prophetic genres, prophetic genre is a more complex literary form, and it is in some sense a blend of other literary genre.

ii.      “Apocalyptic is a hybrid genre, partaking of narrative, poetry, and prophecy.”[6]

1. Narrative: Apocalyptic literature has plot, character, setting and point of view.[7]

2. Poetry: It is highly symbolic with vivid illustrations, and it’s style can be filled with Hebrew parallelism.[8]

3. Prophecy: It has two genre of prophecy, announcement of judgment and oracle of salvation.

A case can be made that Apocalyptic is really a combination of announcement of judgment, with an announcement of salvation concerning the final end.

d. Elements

i.      As a hybrid genre, it has elements of these genres

1. Plot

2. Character

3. Setting

4. Point of view

5. Hebrew parallelism

6. Accusation

7. Announcement

8. Reference to the future

9. Mention of radical change

10. Mention of blessing

ii.      Unique elements

1. Dualism[9]

a. Good verses evil

b. Unlike pagan dualism, the good and God is greater than the evil side.

2. (Extensive) Symbolism

e. Some place in Scripture where can Apocalypse be found[10]

i.      Daniel 7-12

ii.      Isaiah 24-27

iii.      Ezekiel 38-39

iv.      Joel

v.      Zechariah 1-6

vi.      Matthew 24-25

vii.      Mark 13

viii.      Luke 21

ix.      Revelation

II. Is Apocalyptic Genre important for the Christian?

a. First and most important: It is in the Bible!

b. Jeffrey Arthurs has noted that this genre makes up more than the genre of proverb or parable.[11]

Since these genre and subgenre are important enough to learn to interpret it accurately, how much more should a genre which appears more often and require more skill in interpreting!

c. The Bible itself says the one who reads one of its Books that is largely apocalyptic will be blessed

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy , and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)

III. Principles in interpretation

a. Identify the unique elements and the composite elements

i.      As stated previously in other lessons, consciously identifying elements help strengthen one’s interpretation by bringing to awareness what is in the text.

ii.      However, identifying elements is even more important as the difficulty of the genre require more skill and consciousness to the text’s literary elements.

iii.      Therefore, since Apocalyptic is a hybrid genre of narrative, poetry and other prophetic genres, and hermeneutical principles for poetry, narrative and prophetic genres apply here as well.

All the principles from Session Three to Four, Sessions Six through Eleven applies here as well.

b. Read apocalyptic in view of a context of crisis.[12]

i.      Most of the time apocalyptic was written during persecution or a crisis.

ii.      This is an important background information to keep in the back of the interpreter’s mind.

c. Approach Apocalyptic imagery by starting with the images that is already interpreted.[13]

i.      Sometimes, the text itself reveals what the images mean and symbolize.

ii.      These images, which have been explained, it can throw light to what other images meant!

d. Have previously revealed Scriptural ideas and images brought to bear in interpreting Apocalyptic imagery

i.      Bruce Metzger “has figured that of the 404 verses in Revelation, 278 contain one or more allusions to the Old Testament[14]

ii.      Let Scripture interpret Scripture through antecedent theology![15]

e. Do not attempt to identify the significance of every detail.[16]

i.      “One must see the visions as wholes and not allegorically press all the details”[17]

ii.      In other words, don’t forget the bigger picture!

f. “Keep all options open for how apocalyptic predictions will be fulfilled”[18]

i.      We do not know everything about the future, so we can not say we know for sure.

ii.      Isaiah 55:8 reveals that man’s thought is different than God’s thought, and apocalyptic genre is indicative of this truth.


[1] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 179.

[2]Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 233.

[3] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 186.

[4] Ibid, 179.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 180.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 185.

[10] Sources: Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 232; Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 180; D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 184-185.

[11] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 179.

[12] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 188.

[13] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 237.

[14] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 186.

[15] This is the valuable insight of Old Testament professor Walter Kaiser.

[16] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 189.

[17] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 237.

[18] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 189.

 

GO TO PART XIV

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GO TO PART XI

I. Identifying Oracles of Salvation

a. While there are prophetic genre that brings bad news (see Session Eleven on Announcement of Judgment), there are also prophetic genre that brings good news: The Oracle of Salvation.

b. Definition

i.      Also goes by the name promise.[1]

“Promise is the assurance that the LORD will deliver his people and renew his blessing.”[2]

ii.      What is meant by salvation?

“Salvation is any act of God’s goodness and care, of his justice and fairness, of his grace in answering the prayers of sinners.”[3]

iii.      Thus, an oracle of salvation is God’s promise or prophetic reassurance of His promise that He will act in a way that show’s his graciousness and care.

iv.      It is “a word from God that assures people of the validity of God’s promise during a crisis and of his deliverance from an adverse situation.”[4]

c. Elements[5]

i.      Reference to the future

ii.      Mention of radical change

iii.      Mention of blessing

d. Two sub-genre

i.      Promise of Salvation

1. These “address the needs of the people by using the form of an oracle of assurance to an individual.[6]

2. Elements[7]

a. Reassurance

b. Future transformation

c. Basis for reassurance

ii.      Proclamation of Salvation

1. This form “responds to a communal lament and, in doing so, draws much of its language from lament.”[8]

2. Elements[9]

a. Lament

b. Reassurance

c. Future transformation

d. Basis for reassurance

II. Principles in interpretation

a. Prophetic literature is largely poetic, and hermeneutical principles for poetry applies here too.

i.      “God spoke through his prophets largely by poems…”[10]

ii.      Therefore, all the principles in Session Six concerning parallelism apply here as well.

b. Identify the elements within the text.

Consciously identifying elements as listed earlier will help strengthen one’s interpretation of clauses and sentences.

c. If possible, try to identify the specific historical situation from other area in Scripture.

i.      An aspect of oracle of salvation is a future reversal of the announcement of judgment.

ii.      Knowing this background would lead to a further appreciation of God’s faithfulness.

d. Have the announcement of judgment give light to oracle of announcement.

i.      This shows the inter-relationship of genres, and the importance of this in hermeneutics.

ii.      Grace of the oracle of Salvation would be best appreciated in light of announcement of judgment.

e. Remember the Covenants and other promises God made earlier.

Oracle of salvation are not only based upon previous promises but they complement them and even give further details.

f. Realized that some of the prophecies have been fulfilled, others are still awaiting fulfillment.

i.      The prophecies fulfilled should be the basis of trusting that what God says is true.

ii.      The prophecies awaiting fulfillment should give us hope for the future.


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 178.

[2] Willem A. VanGemeren, “Oracles of Salvation” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 140.

[3] Ibid, 139.

[4] Ibid, 145.

[5] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 178.

[6] Willem A. VanGemeren, “Oracles of Salvation” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 143.

[7] Ibid, 144.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 144-145.

[10] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 179-180.

GO TO PART XIII

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