We just finished a class called Interpreting Scripture and Culture in a church that is very unchurched. The goal was for people to learn how to read their Bibles well, while also reading their culture well. In short, we are trying to plant a self-theologizing church.
It was a six week course that laid out a Trinitarian, Christ-centered approach to interpretation, followed by five weeks focusing on genres. This method taught them to depend on the Spirit, begin with the Text, move to Theology, and end up at Culture/Life.
Here is the syllabus for the course. I drew from various resources, many of which are just rolling around in my head, but the actual books and articles I returned to included:
- How to Read the Bible as Literature – Ryken provides a literary perspective that is typically neglected by hermeneutics books. He helps every genre come to life, to activate our imaginations, to enter the world of the text with intrigue and anticipation.
- A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible – Stein has decades of experience and offers a basic, accessible approach to reading the genres of the Bible well.
- Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Smith
- Is There Meaning in this Text? Vanhoozer
- v.Culture Dodson
- Counsel Ephesians – Powlinson’s article, now in Seeing With New Eyes, is marvelous. It is a tour through exgesis, biblical and systematic theology, ending up at practical theology. Although it assumes a certain level of knowledge of hermeneutics, its worth reading several times.
Although it was a small class, we all learned a great deal, worshiped during our study, and grew in our understanding. Here are a few things I learned:
- Don’t call it Interpreting Scripture and Culture and people will be less intimidated. Call it Reading Bible and Culture Well or something.
- Use Fee & Stuart’s Reading the Bible for All It’s Worth for required reading again. It was well received.
- Continue to insist on homework and have the students run the last class.