Hermeneutical Inventory

The experiment of which you have been a part is a forerunner of a capstone course for RS majors. I want to conclude it by encouraging you to draw together the various strands of your education, in and out of our major, in and out of Westmont.

Choose a passage from our passages in Hebrews (but not one on which you preached a sermon). Draw up an inventory of the hermeneutical considerations that help you intepret that passage, noting from where (RS major courses? RS GEs? other courses? other Westmont experiences, such as chapel? experiences in churches or other ministries? family? elsewhere in life?) you received significant training to treat those considerations.

For instance:

1. In what ways does this passage contribute to your understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments?
2. In what ways does the immediate literary context of this passage shape your understanding of its meaning?
3. In what ways does the literary genre of your passage (poetry, prophecy, gospel or epistle) inform and shape your interpretation?
4. What specific aspects of ancient history, language, religious tradition and culture might be important for readers of this passage to understand?
5. How does Christian history shed light on or bear upon the meaning and significance of this passage?
6. How does Christian practice (worship, ethics, sacramental life, etc.) do the same?
7. How do
academic disciplines (other than RS), ideological approaches, or non-Western paradigms offer resources for interpreting the passage? What risks and pitfalls might come along with it?
8. What aspects of your own contemporary social context and culture might help or hinder you from understanding the passage?
9. What part might your chosen passage play in communicating the good news to people whose culture is not your own and who are unfamiliar with Christian belief?

That is not a laundry list, but an illustrative one to guide your own inventorying.

Finally, where do you sense gaps or flaws in your training that you think might be compromising your ability to understand your passage?

Note: You are not presenting an interpretation of the passage per se, just an inventory of the considerations that guide your interpretation. Of course, you will need to interpret the passage in the course of doing this assignment.

I hope this project helps you appraise and critically appreciate your whole education, whether or not you are a graduating senior!

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