Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Testament Exegesis Step 3a

So far in this blog I've talked about the first 2 steps of NT exegesis:
1) Spiritual preparation.
2) General introduction.
the next step is:
3) Literary context.

This last step can be broken up into 3 sections:
a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method.
b) identifying the limits of the text.
c) identifying the text's role within it's context.

For now I will just talk about
a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method.

The New Testament contains many books, and these books are not all in the same genre.
The gospels are different to Acts, which is different to the letters, which are different to Revelation.
All of these different genres need to be handled in different ways.
The way that we approach the gospels in exegesis is quite different to the way we handle the letters. This doesn't just apply to Bible study, but also applies to studying English literature - for example if someone is studying a poem, they will approach it in a different way to a historical document.

So once we have identified which type of genre we are studying (Gospel, Acts, Letter, Revelation), we then need to find out the correct way of approaching the particular genre.

For this I have found the following books very helpful:
(in order of usefulness)
"New Testament Exegesis" Gordon Fee
"How to read the Bible for all it's worth" Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart
"Playing by the rules" Robert Stein
All of these were written by top evangelical scholars, and are easy to understand.
"New Testament Exegesis" is more thorough than the others, and has more focus on writing exegetical papers, whereas Fee & Stuart's collabo is designed more for lay people, and Stein's is more of an introduction on hermeneutics.

I'd say buy them all! But if you're strapped for cash then get the Fee one - you won't regret it and you will never get rid of it!

One example of the usefulness of Fee's book is it's tips on the literary content of the gospels. Fee recommends using a synopsis to compare the different gospel writers accounts of the same story in order to see which emphasis a particular gospel writer was making compared to his counterparts.

I will write more about this later.

Peace D

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