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writing things down…

Circles and Lines

I’ve been ruminating about the task of NT exegesis and about the first lecture I will deliver in the Fall. Two images come to mind as I think about exegesis: circles and lines. What we do in Exegetical Methods is introduce students to 1) the various circles of writing and reading, 2) the various circles of influence upon those circles of writing and reading, and 3) the lines of questioning exegetes ask of all of these circles.

The first set of circles I have in mind would include the three large circles of author, text, and readers. The second set of circles would include things like the historical-cultural background of the author, the first reading community, the editing, the compiling, etc. It would also include literary and narrative circles within the texts. Finally, the second set of circles would include as well the influences, goals and settings of the many readers and reading communities–an awareness of the the history of interpretation and a consciousness of the tradition(s) from which one arises would be appropriate. These circles represent areas within which an exegete can maneuver; often and most likely exegetes will move around and into several spheres. My job here is to expose the students to these circles and make as clear as possible the importance of each.

The lines of questioning are really where the students’ hands will get dirty. It is also the place where I have to be selective. The various critical methods are at base lines of questioning. Which critical methods to teach is an important question. It seems to me that there are certain methods that are crucial to most good exegetical endeavors. Though I do not want to intimate that a text’s meaning lies wholly in the historical, I do not think there is any way not to deal with some of the historical questions. I also think that grammatical analysis, literary criticism (broadly construed), and other critical methods are vital and will need to be broached. The difficulty for me will be what line of questioning not to include in the “hands on” part of the course.

Anyway, circles and lines…maybe I have a title for my first lecture and themes to return to throughout the term.

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1 Comment»

  C. Wess Daniels wrote @

Chris this sounds fantastic – I love the imagery and your approach. I wish I was taking exegesis again….well sort of.


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