Author Topic: non literalist texts to be recommended for university level study of theology  (Read 1091 times)


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so can anyone suggest any readily available texts for beginners at university level study of theology that explains hermeneutics and exegesis for NT studies - and takes a Markian priority, as the norm as a benchmark in order to be capable of empowering students towards interpretative concepts for scriptural analysis in a post modernity society
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  You've given a pretty tall order. 

My own approach has always been to read every author with a grain of salt or more.  The greater certainty on the author's part increases my skepticism by the same % or so.  ::)  I also assume every author has assumed some things & the book will reflect some sort of bias for good or bad. Let the reader be forewarned accordingly.  8)

Here's a web site that does a pretty good job of covering all the theories about the Synoptics:

Like almost all the authors I've read, Liberal - Conservative- Literal-Non-Literal - Dispensationalist, Mark has the greatest support by far, as the 1st written. 

I support the Matthew theory not so much because of overwhelming evidence but just to make sure everyone's doing their own homework & not just parroting the majority view because its the path of least resistance.  ::) :o
 This page seems to offer an even-handed discussion of Hermenutics. The sources at the bottom would be worth further study, I imagine.

This site seems to show some promise as well.

Good luck! In my studies, the folks self-identifying as "post-modern" have only rarely been concerned with methods of Biblical interpretation as the folks I've known have simply regarded the Bible as ancient & irrelevant.   The folks you know down under may differ, of course. 

Have you Googled "biblical Hermenutics"????

Put me under the "Historical-Critical" school which, among other things, insists on taking metaphors as metaphors & poetry as poetry & not newspaper reporting.

The references at the bottom should give you some direction.
 I'm unaware of any texts on Hermenutics from a Liberation or Process or Progressive perspective. that doesn't mean there are none as I would imagine almost any current theology prof should have a better reading list than I can concoct.  :( :o

 But, ideally, the principles of interpretation should be entirely separate from theology.

Best wishes in your search.


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WOW!  Steve, that is a pretty good start.  When I first read this post it sounded like a plea to give Robert a reading list that told him only what he wanted to hear so he need not do any further learning or discernment.  I am glad you did not give in to that request.  Your comment about separating hermeneutics from theology and presupposed agendas does not get heeded enough.
1) Jesus the only head
2) Christian a sufficient label
3) Unity our purpose
4) The Bible our guide
5) Respect everyone’s right to interpret scripture
6) Christian character a sufficient test


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  Thanks! IMO, when Robert challenges us with good questions, we owe it to ourselves to respond.

If memory serves, my M.Div Hermenutics course used
"Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics, 3rd revised edition, Baker Book House, 1970." by Bernard Ramm

In my world, before we can study theology or begin to theologize, we must 1st lay a sensible foundation.
Some of those prerequisites include Greek & Hebrew studies, Introduction to OT & NT (which should include a flood of historical & cultural data from diverse sources.), Hermenutics, for starters. 

Thus, while Markan Priority has the best support currently among scholars of all types, we're only one archeological find of a older text that could upend all proposed Synoptic Solutions.

The piece I've never seen addressed by "lower" or "higher" criticism would be the testing of interpretative methods against other current & ancient literature.   I mean, if these methods work on Scripture, shouldn't they also work on Homer, Shakespeare &  the writings of Thomas Jefferson or Ayn Rand?  So why don't we use the methods of understanding Eng. Lit in Seminary????  Count me eternally skeptical.

I also like to see student's presuppositions/prejudices/biases/world views identified before hand.   Such things are not necessarily wrong but unexamined and unknown they inherently color our approach to any subject or dataset.  I prefer "eyes wide open", all things being equal.  Thus, a healthy discussion of "isogesis" seems quite in order as well as much of it occurs quite unwittingly, IMO, anyways.

Well, here's an intriguing article on the history of hermenutics from a clearly secular perspective. Fascinating!

The Uni of Chicago offers this survey of modern hermenutics which dovetails the last citing:

Unfortunately, there are excellent footnotes but no bibliography.

John Cobb offers a considerable body of literature from his ever evolving "Process" perspective. This article in particular would seem suited to intro theological studies in any school, IMO.  Which is not to imply any level of agreement or endorsement, of course.

Here's the broader list of his writings with which I assume theologs-in-training will need some familiarity.
Divinity School, U of C offers 2 courses this spring of note. I suspect the professors could be contacted for bibliographies.
BIBL 46300 The Four-Fold

Fishbane, Michael

Tue. 9:00-11:50 S208

This course will have two parts: 1. A descriptive-analytic overview and study of examples of the four-fold method of Jewish Biblical interpretation (known as Pardes); 2. A constructive inquiry into its use as a model for a contemporary Jewish philosophy of religion.

PQ: Some Hebrew recommended—consult instructor.

BIBL 54900 Seminar: Comparative Scriptural Interpretation

Mitchell, Margaret/Robinson, James

W 3:00-6:50    S403

Through selected readings in early Christian and medieval Jewish texts (in a variety of genres), the seminar will explore such issues as: what is a “text,” and how is a “scripture” constituted? What is (a) “commentary”? What are the various media of scriptural interpretation? What kinds of interpretive questions do various readers and communities generate, and why? What is the relationship between “theory” and “practice” in scriptural interpretation? What types of exegetical rules are developed and employed, from where do they come and how are they justified? Do such traditional labels as “literal” and “allegorical” interpretation work? Do different religious traditions and communities develop unique interpretive perspectives or predilections, or do we see largely the same approaches in play regardless of context?

PQ: language facility in Hebrew and/or Greek.

Both sound fascinating especially as I'm rather certain the profs are not of the, how shall I phrase it, German-Reformed/Calvinist/Charismatic persuasion.  ::)  Oddly, that makes them very attractive, at least to me. 

Blessings! & Happy New Year!
I do not believe in miracles. I rely on them!