Are We Finally Fixing The Bible?

Last year I wrote a post (“Have We Ruined The Bible?”) where I questioned the wisdom of putting chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles. At the time, there weren’t many options for those who wished to read the Bible without such markings (except for features on software like Logos or Accordance). However, I recently came across the following future publication: The ESV Reader’s Bible. Here is their description:

“The ESV Reader’s Bible was created for those who want to read the books of Scripture precisely as they were originally written. Verse numbers, chapter and section headings, and translation footnotes are helpful navigational and interpretive tools, but they are also relatively recent conventions. In the ESV Reader’s Bible they have been removed from the Bible text. The result is a new kind of Bible-reading experience in a volume that presents Scripture as one extended story line.

On the top of each page a verse range is included for orientation. Other features include a single-column text setting, readable type, and a book-like format. The Reader’s Bible is a simple but elegant edition, and is perfect for devotional reading, for extended Bible reading, or for focusing on the overarching narrative of the Bible.”

(See a picture of “Page 1” below)

Again I ask: are chapters and verses more detrimental to our reading habits than we realize? Do you think Bibles like the ESV Reader’s Bible will catch on? Would it even be possible for churches, schools, bible studies to adopt them?

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Writing an Exegetical Paper

As I prepare to teach Old Testament this Fall, I am reminded of how hard it is for many students to conceptualize and write an exegesis paper. This is one assignment I would drop completely, because of amount of work it creates, if I did not believe it was essential to learning how to read scripture. After all, my primary goal in a class of this type (Old Testament overview) is not to explain scripture but to provide a framework for reading scripture faithfully.

For that reason, I made this handout (Helps for Writing an Exegesis Paper) a few years ago to introduce the art of biblical interpretation. I assign different portions of this handout to be turned in throughout the semester.

I was wondering what resources you use to help students with exegetical papers and what thoughts you may have this handout? Remember, this handout is meant to introduce the basics of writing an exegetical paper.

Sorry for formatting this is what it looks like when I import the original document (my tech skills and patience are lacking). Click link above to view as PDF.

Helps for Writing an Exegesis Paper

Resources:

Gordon Fee, New Testament Exegesis

Michael Gorman, Elements of Biblical Exegesis

 

Seven Quick Tips:

1.  Establish the Text

What are the parameters of the text? Are there definitive starting and ending points and what signals them in the text? If there are any questions concerning the actual words of the text, decide which words are most likely original. If you do not know Hebrew/Greek, rely on commentaries written from the original languages.

2.  Meaning of Text

What do the words and phrases in the text mean to the writer? Look at things like usage in other texts (e.g. other Pauline letters) and sources of influence (e.g. OT).

3.  Flow of Argument

Examine how the passage relates as a unit. How is the text arranged? What parts are substantive, supportive, and connecting? Are parts seemingly out of place?

4.  Text in Context

What is text’s genre (prose, narrative, poetry, proverb, prophecy, etc.)? How does the particular passage function in the larger context of the letter? Is this a conclusion or supporting argument in the larger context? Is the text in the beginning, middle or end of a larger argument?

5.  Text in Historical Setting

Inquire whether a historical situation sheds light on the text. Examine the social, political, cultural, and economical situation surrounding the reading and writing of the text.

6.  Text in Theological Setting

What theological truth is expressed in the text? Relate the meaning to theology in the larger context (whole book; section of scripture, e.g. Pentateuch, Prophets, Gospels, Paul’s letters; concept, e.g. nature of God, soteriology, etc.).  This is a key component. The other steps should help you answer this question.

Questions to consider

What gifts of creation (the creator) are to be rejoiced in the passage?

What evils are to be repented of and lamented?

What transformations should be hoped for?

7.  So What?

How does this reading influence how the church should read scripture? What difference does the theological truth make for the church today? This should be a shorter section and not the main focus of your paper.

 

 

Remember:  These are only guidelines, not hard and fast rules.  I would expect you would think through all these steps as you prepare to write your paper, but not all of them should be included in the paper – include only those absolutely necessary for supporting your argument.

 

Methodological Questions: Conceptual Metaphor and Interpretation

One more week without a book review as I finish my paper for this week. They will return next week, I have Gaventa and Barclay to review. In lieu of the review, I am offering a look at my methodology for interpreting a passage with conceptual metaphors in view. This is still largely a work in progress, but this is what I am using to look into Galatians 4:1-7 in this paper. (Sorry if formatting is little strange had trouble importing the text)

 

With cognitive studies’ investigation of language as the mind’s means of communication providing the template for investigation, the words of a text may be examined as the text’s form of communication.

 

  • What conceptual metaphors shape the text?

    -What are the central topics and epistemological assumptions of the text?

    -Are there organizing principles or patterns in the text?

    -Is there an intended impact of the text?  How is the impact framed?

  • How are these conceptual metaphors grounded, structured, related to each other, and defined?

 -As far as it can be reconstructed, what is the historical, social, and cultural meaning of the conceptual metaphor?

-What is the textual meaning of the conceptual metaphors?  How are the conceptual metaphors framed in the specific                 text?  How is the text connected with what comes before and after, and to document as a whole?

-In biblical interpretation, this will mean examining beyond a particular book by turning to intertextual aspects:  Is scripture quoted in the text?  Are there allusions to other scriptures, scriptural themes, or stories? How do these impact the framing of the conceptual metaphors in the text?

-How do the conceptual metaphors (both empirical and implied) define the thought-world of the text?  Do they organize the text?  Provide a structure for the discourse?  Project a line of reasoning?

  • How does the context of the reader influence the text’s reception?

-How does the world constructed by the text correspond to the historical, cultural, and social norms?  What parts are highlighted?  What parts are forgotten/deleted?

 -How do the highlighted and neglected parts impact the reading? How does the text cue the reader to respond?

-How does the blending of the frames, textual world, historical context and reader’s context, influence the intended impact of the text?

  • How metaphoric blends lie behind the construction of the text and the story?

 -At what points do the conceptual metaphors collide?  How does blending conceptual metaphors integrate the different fields into a shared field of meaning?  Does blending result in the construction of new meaning?  How does blending create new meaning?  Does the new meaning generate new schemas which can reinterpret the past and/or provide new ideals for the present and future?

-Does blending create a story that produces transformation of the conceptual metaphors?

-How might a storied approach to hermeneutics provide new possibilities for highlighting the transformative role of the text?

  • What role does an informed imagination play in the reception of the story?

    -How does the reader receive the conceptual categories of the text?  How does the reader form conceptual categories for the objects, events, actors and stories revealed in the text?  How is one story projected onto another story?

-How might speech-act-theory, with its focus on the text’s locution, illocution, and perlocution open possibilities for interpretation to move through understanding towards embodiment?  Can an interpretative community, by recognizing all three aspects of a text as part of one interpretative process come to understand the act of reading as informing its imagination through a call to not simply understand but to be drawn into participating in the conceptual world constructed by the text?

What results is a hermeneutical method, which incorporates a text’s empirical historical setting, implied historical setting, and literary context with the personal and communal life of the reader.  It is a hermeneutical method that moves through understanding a text towards embodying a text; embodied biblical interpretation.