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A Method for Old Testament Exegesis

Presentation for OT426/626, Psalter, Melbourne School of Theology, 2012
by

Andrew Brown

on 28 January 2016

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Transcript of A Method for Old Testament Exegesis

Pentateuch
BIBLICAL CANON
Meaning and goal of exegesis
Process of exegesis
Establish Text
Study Context
Analyse Content
Synthesize Content
Apply Text
The exegesis document
Psalms exegesis - special factors

A Method for Old Testament Exegesis
Definition
: "critical explanation" of a text
Goal
: to both understand and explain the meaning of the biblical text consistently with the author's conceivable communicative purpose.
Exegesis works with reference to original
historical setting
and within the rules by which the original
language
functioned, hence the term 'historical-grammatical exegesis'.
1. Meaning and Goal of Exegesis
Historical Books
Genesis
Joshua
1 Kings
Ezra
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Prophetic Books
Poetry
Hermeneutics: Theory
and Practice of Interpretation
Exegesis: Method of Interpretation and Explanation
1. Establish the Text
Assign boundaries
: find sensible beginning and end points for the passage you'll interpret.
Textual criticism
: become familiar with main textual problems and alternatives that apply.
Translate
: Ideally, translate the passage yourself from the original language, or make a studied choice of which translation(s) to rely on.
NEW TESTAMENT
2. Study the Contexts I
Historical context
: This will require an attempt to estimate the
date
of the text's origin, comparing internal and external evidence and scholarly opinion. This can then feed back into an understanding of
historical setting
.
Social/cultural context
: what was life like for author and readers at the time, and how does this bear out in the text?
2. Study the Contexts II
Literary context
: How does the text function within its canonical location, in terms of both
structure
and
themes?
Authorship and purpose
: Do we know who wrote the text, or why?
Genre
: What sort of a text is this, and how does this sort of text work?
Contextual Scope
Bible
Old Testament
Poetic Books
Psalms
Book X
Subcollection
3. Analyse the Content
Internal structure
:
I
dentify natural divisions and any intentional patterning.
Syntax or sentence structure
: Grasp, and if you're keen, diagram all sentences.
Scan poetic structure, identifying bicola and tricola, locating stresses and identifying rhythm. In particular, isolate and understand syntactical (structural) and semantic (meaning) parallelism.
Identify key
word meanings
and their semantic ranges, and identify applicable meanings in this context.
Clarify
grammar
at work in the original language. Identify
poetic devices
in use.
4. Synthesize Content
Summarize
overall meaning and major themes of text.
Reintegrate this meaning into its
literary context
.
Check for
intentional re-use of this text
elsewhere in the OT and then in the NT, in quotations and allusions.
Check for
thematic and theological connections
in the rest of the Bible, and seek to integrate passage into a broader
biblical theology.
Consult the works of other noteworthy interpreters, ancient and modern, i.e. look at the
reception history
of the passage.
5. Apply Meaning
Identify the
applicable truths
in the passage with an eye on how directly the writer's spiritual situation corresponds to ours today. Some things will correspond well on the basis of the unchanging nature of God and the underlying consistency in human nature and society, while other things will differ due to historical particularities, social, cultural and language differences, and the differences between the situation of the church of Christ after the cross and the resurrection compared to Israel's situation as the people of God before Christ's saving work took place.
Work out how to effectively
communicate
what you've found out in a way that suits your audience and their needs, whether in speech or writing.
Meditate
on how the passage addresses your own relationship with God and bed these truths down with prayer and any needed action to change.
Exegesis… Theologizing… Application
GOD’S REALITY & HUMANITY
WORLD OF THE CHRISTIAN READER
CHURCH
ISRAEL
The Process of Christian Biblical Interpretation
WORLD OF THE OT STORY
The Million-Dollar Question...
"...important to an accurate interpretation of the passage is a basic hermeneutical rule: a passage cannot mean now what it could not originally have meant." Douglas Stuart, 'Exegesis', ABD II:687 (1992)
Stated goal of the Blackwell Bible Commentaries: to "present readers with many different interpretations of each text...to heighten their awareness of what...a sacred text...can mean and what it can do, what it has meant and what it has done, in the many contexts in which it operates." John Sawyer et al., 'Series Editors' Preface,' Psalms Through the Centuries by Susan Gillingham, xiv.
Is the originally intended meaning the only legitimate meaning?
"It is typical of the NT to use the Psalms in a way that takes little account of their original meaning." "...the NT writers...were not trying to do exegesis."
John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, 76-77
The Differing Text-Critical Landscapes of OT and NT
Old Testament Textual Criticism
New Testament Textual Criticism
source
Greek
Latin
Eastern
languages
Greek text families
source
Greek
Aramaic
Dead Sea Scrolls
Latin
Syriac
Hebrew
Masoretic text (MT)
Old Latin
Vulgate
Targums
Peshitta
Old Syriac
Septuagint (LXX)
Full transcript