Interpretation for Christian Ministry

Richard W. Nysse, Donald H. Juel

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 10/1/1993

Issue: Biblical Interpretation for Christian Ministry (Vol. 13, No 4, Fall, 1993)

As the title of this essay suggests, interpretation is always for something; it serves some end. The particular “end” in view here is “Christian ministry.” That end presumes certain commitments and prejudgments. We read the Scriptures because they are to serve as “the norm in matters of faith and practice.” The prejudgment likewise suggests that the Scriptures are for us; they have to do with our faith and our practice. This is not to deny that biblical works were written at another time and place, for other audiences as well; it does not specify precisely in what sense they will serve as “normative”; and the particular bias does not deny that the Bible may be good for other things, like writing histories of antiquity or providing data for Greek and Hebrew grammarians. Christians read the Bible, however, because we are convinced that in our engagement with it we encounter the living God. We suggest that in our present setting, what is required of us is a reconceiving of the vocation of exegete. The questions are not new, and there are many who have found a personal way through the hermeneutical labyrinth, but theological educators have not succeeded in identifying a strategy for shaping interpreters who will in turn engage the Christian community in a reading and hearing of the Scriptures that will renew and sustain the church. It is to the possibility of such a strategy that we devote our attention.

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