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BIBL 102 (Sp '15) T08 - What Do We Bring to the Text

It's about preunderstanding

Hartmut Scherer

on 4 February 2015

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Transcript of BIBL 102 (Sp '15) T08 - What Do We Bring to the Text

(Adapted from Zondervan Academic Resources for "Grasping God's Word)
The key to interpreting the Bible
is recognizing the
This "baggage" is called
Cultural influences,
e.g., music, movies,
We get this “baggage” or preunderstanding from:
What do we bring to the Text?
Preunderstanding can easily lead us toward an "
interpretational reflex
What do we do with
our preunderstanding?
not inherently bad, but it can lead us astray
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:
(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.
1) Our tendency is to
fill in the
in the biblical texts with
information from our own
background and experience.
2) Our cultural background can

a world of possible and
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?).
Place your preunderstanding under the authority of the text.
Result: a new (and more biblical)
(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?
all have preunderstanding
No one is free of preunderstanding
Be aware of your preunderstanding
Assumption: our preunderstanding
is always correct
“Pride does not listen. It knows.”
(Kevin Vanhoozer)
An already formulated theological agenda
“Overstanding” (not understanding)
(Kevin Vanhoozer)
should not dictate our conclusion
tends to make us biased
Full transcript