Exercise 3: Moral reflection on a biblical passage

Your first two exercises focus on our secondary reading, especially Fowl and Jones and Newbigin. However, the backbone of the course has been the scriptures themselves. Richard Hays has taken you through a tour of the 'moral vision' of each body of literature; lectures have sometimes departed from this focus to show you the moral significance of the Bible's different kinds of writing (law, prophecy, founding narratives, wisdom, and the like). Fowl and Jones center their account on how scripture ought to be practiced in church contexts to catalyze moral formation, while Newbigin has focused on the Bible's role in the missionary encounter with cultures such as western/global cultures of modernity. The third exercise focuses on the Bible itself, without leaving behind the rest of our course material.

1. Take a biblical passage that you have encountered anew through Hays, Meeks, Newbigin, Fowl and Jones, or one of the lectures or presentations. By 'anew' I mean that even if you were familiar with it before, you gained significant new insight into the passage through this course. No need to take up space reproducing it; I can look it up myself.

2. Briefly describe what new insight you gained. This is not the point of the assignment; I'm just curious to see how the course has influenced your biblical interpretation.

3. "Write what you see" (Revelation 1:19). Your passage arose in a context involving specific ways of life, thinking, and culture. Without focusing too long on secondary literature, describe that context for what it indicates or suggests about the moral bearing of the passage. Whether lectures, Hays, or Meeks are directly relevant to your passage, I am hoping that they have refined your skill at thinking this way.

4. "I am writing this so that..." (1 John 2:1). List the specific way or ways that your passage addresses that context, not so much in terms of its authorial purpose as its impact on that context (though the two may of course be related).

5. "These things were written down for our instruction" (1 Corinthians 10:6-7). What does this passage imply about both our moral context and God's work there, given that it lives on as canonical scripture in the churches and missions of every age and place? Here I am hoping that our secondary literature and lectures have shaped your hermeneutical sense for reading the passage in a context that is broader than the merely historical, whether or not you agree with their particular arguments.

6. "... that God's person may be capable, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17). Shifting your focus to your own local context and to your call to serve, teach, and lead in it, describe how that passage will inform your teaching, work, and life. You may find some of our final readings helpful guides to allegorizing — I mean applying — a passage powerfully and accurately.

7. Optionally, reflect on this whole cycle from steps 1-6. Such a change in thinking implies something about how thinking changes. What kind of model of hermeneutics does this cycle suggest? A linear model from past meaning to present meaning? A hermeneutical circle? A paradigm shift along Newbigin's lines? Something more theological in character? Or some other?

Wherever a source in our course material has been influential, cite and/or footnote as appropriate. Follow the SAIACS guidelines for writing. I especially like to see proper style, clear writing and reasoning, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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