TIP of the day: Plain meaning/ analytic reading - sharpening the view

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 24 2016 11:15 PM

The next steps are what many people want to ignore ... the bringing of everything we know about extracting information from a text to bear on the Bible text. Everyone has a perspective from which they read the Bible ... a net fisherman from an island of Croatia taught me what was happening when Jesus meets his disciples on the shore mending nets; a drama buff pointed out to me the significance of the relative position of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery when he writes in the dust ... We obviously can't all be experts in everything ... but we can learn from them what questions to ask. Even if you consider a perspective radical or misguided or dangerous, you still need to understand the questions and what those questions highlight. I think of it like applying special filters on your camera lens or adding dye to a slide under the microscope ... it allows you to possibly see detail otherwise unavailable to you. Not all passages have detail relevant to all filters.

1. For purposes of illustration, I will begin with Gorman, Michael J. Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010. which has Appendix A: Tables of Exegetical Methods. Note that when learn a method, you need to concentrate on the "suggested questions" - implicit or explicit.

2. To learn what literary criticism (first entry above) does and how to apply it requires a two prong approach. First create a collection of you books on Bible study, exegesis, hermeneutics and search it for "literary criticism":

3. After reading a selection of the "how to" books, run a similar search on your Bible commentaries - depending on your collection you may wish to also include monographs that are Bible studies. You may even wish to include dead tree copies of recently dropped pre-publications that fit the category. Wink

4. By expanding the results you can find cases for and against literary criticism in different contexts.

5. You will likely find full sections about the usefulness of the method in different contexts.

6. In addition, it is often useful to see if there are diagrams or charts relevant to the topic.

7.8. If you find yourself with few resources demonstrating a method, or so interested you wish to expand your reading, search logos.com for "literary criticism"

8. How much to read and apply in your own studies will vary from method to method - based on your background and interests. Don't try to fool yourself into believing that you can be an expert in everything. Another good source for identifying the methods to study Tate, W. Randolph. Handbook for Biblical Interpretation: An Essential Guide to Methods, Terms, and Concepts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012. You can do a search of "criticism" which will find most methods defined in the book.

I know of other books outside Logos that offer questions for each of many methods. If you know of some within Logos, please post them in this thread.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 25 2016 3:34 AM

Sorry for going off topic a bit.

a net fisherman from an island of Croatia taught me what was happening when Jesus meets his disciples on the shore mending nets; a drama buff pointed out to me the significance of the relative position of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery when he writes in the dust

That's very intriguing. Would you care to elaborate?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 25 2016 4:48 PM

I learned that with handmade nets, adjusting and checking the knots is something done at the end of every day of fishing - it doesn't mean that the nets sustained damage from being snagged on something or are torn in some way - it merely means the fisherman is doing his job  of keeping his net in good shape.

It was pointed out that by kneeling to write in the dust, Jesus put himself at the same level, face-to-face with the woman ... not a normal position under the circumstances.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 2465
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 25 2016 6:06 PM

Thank you. That was interesting.

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