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CMIN 301 (Sp '15) T05 - Preaching the Meaning in Their Town (Part 1)

It's about preunderstanding
by

Hartmut Scherer

on 25 February 2015

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Transcript of CMIN 301 (Sp '15) T05 - Preaching the Meaning in Their Town (Part 1)

Introduction
(Adapted from Zondervan Academic Resources for "Grasping God's Word)
The key to interpreting the Bible
is recognizing the
CONTEXT.
This "baggage" is called
PRE-UNDERSTANDING.
Cultural influences,
e.g., music, movies,
literature
Church
Nationality
We get this “baggage” or preunderstanding from:
Race
Family
What do we bring to the Text?
Why do we need to recognize
preunderstanding?

Our preunderstanding is not always biblical and sometimes needs to be changed.

“Pride does not listen. It knows.”
- Kevin Vanhoozer
Preunderstanding can easily lead us toward an "
interpretational reflex
."
What do we do with
our preunderstanding?
Our preunderstanding is not inherently bad, but it can lead us astray if we fail to recognize it.
Presuppositions
What are some evangelical presuppositions about the Bible? E.g., the Bible is God's word.
What kind of
interpretive baggage
do we bring to the text?

We need to distinguish between:
Preunderstanding
(changes)
Presuppostions
(do NOT change)
Personal experiences
"Pre-understanding may be defined as a body of assumptions and attitudes which a person brings to the perception and interpretation of reality or any aspect of it”
(D. S. Ferguson, "Biblical Hermeneutics: An Introduction" (Atlanta: Westminster John Knox Press, 1986), 6.)
We bring a lot of “baggage”
with us when we approach the Bible.
Our preunderstanding can easily take over and lead us to
stand OVER God’s Word
, dictating what it means, rather than placing ourselves under the Word.
1) Our tendency is to
fill in the
gaps
in the biblical texts with
information from our own
background and experience.
2) Our cultural background can

create
a world of possible and
impossible
meanings
for a
biblical text before we even
study the text.
We should be open to changing our pre-understanding when a serious study of the text demands it (humility?).
We need to submit our preunderstanding to God’s Word, placing it under the authority of the text.
Result: a new (and more biblical)
preunderstanding.
(Presuppositons are faith commitments or doctrinal beliefs regarding the Scriptures)
Total objectivity is impossible for any reader, but this is not our goal.
Christians have
faith commitments
that do not change each time we study the Bible.
An often overlooked context
is our own context as a reader.
As readers we are not entirely neutral or objective.
How will this affect the process of interpretation?
It will be impossible to deny that we have any preunderstanding.
Full transcript