For the past four weeks I have been writing curriculum for a class, Christianity Explored: The Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Mark, at our church, Redeemer Church, Fort Worth. What follows is part of the Interpretive Prolegomena for the course. In the coming days and weeks I will include here reflections from the curriculum. May God use it to enliven your faith.
There are many approaches to studying Scripture. To be sure, if each of us were honest about our own presuppositions, principles and rules we bring to a text, which supply the conclusions at which we arrive, the multiplicity of interpretive approaches would be evident. Studies of the Gospels often times have their own set of methods which arrive at their particular conclusions. More often than not, anytime you hear or read biblical commentary it is for the purpose of persuading or dissuading toward or away from certain theological convictions.
It is our hope that we all become better and better attentive, inside-readers of the biblical Text. As our knowledge of the text improves, so too, our interpretation of the text. From the attentive, Spirit-led reading of the Text, our presuppositions, principles and rules are sanctified, and, therefore, so too are our theological conclusions.
In a similar way that a family develops their own inside jokes, stories and experiences, the reader of the biblical Text develops in their ability to recognize the intimate verbal, structural and theological connections within Scripture.
Scripture is rightly interpreted only by members of the Family of God, or Christian readers. The student of the Word of God who is led by the Spirit of God increasingly recognizes the intertextual clues provided by the author(s) of Scripture. They will also better understand the author’s purpose in selecting and arranging the particular historical material at his disposal.
The greatest difficulty of interpretation does not primarily lie in a particular author’s lack of clarity, but rather in the readers’ lack of knowledge of, saturation in and submission to the Text.