Challenging Gendered Leadership in the Old Testament: A Webinar at Co-Laborate

HERE is a webinar I was invited to speak for at “Co-Laborate: Men & Women Together: Pentecostal Theology & Praxis” with host Dr. Debbie Fulthorp on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. I spoke on the topic “Challenging Gendered Leadership in the Old Testament”.

The three primary ideas/images regarding the role and function of women in leadership in the OT that I selected to share about are:

  • Mother
  • Prophet
  • Wisdom

I present a few texts from the OT in reference to each idea/image and offer these as related to my own hermeneutic of discerning the trajectory of Scripture rather than simply extracting principles. I regard such images in the OT as indicative of what the Spirit has always been at work doing to empower for life and redemption.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the webinar and any of the texts and subjects discussed (provided it is done with civility and love).

SPS 2017 Proposal Submitted

I just submitted my proposal for the 2017 Society for Pentecostal Studies annual meeting in St. Louis, MO. It is always a bit daunting preparing for a presentation at a scholarly society, but I have always found the effort well rewarded by the responses and engagement at the time of presentation. My title is Toward a Pentecostal Hermeneutic of the Former Prophets. Here is my proposal synopsis:

While there is no singular Pentecostal hermeneutic (nor a singular definition of ‘Pentecostal’), and some still persist in questioning whether there is or should be any, there are noticeable trends toward more clearly defined Pentecostal hermeneutics while still ‘in the making’. Perhaps this ‘still in the making’ is part and parcel of the Pentecostal’s sanctified/sanctifying interpretation. Claims to any form of Pentecostal hermeneutics must admit no ‘claim to possess a pristine and qualitatively unique methodology’. Instead, every hermeneutical approach (including those which might be called Pentecostal) is distinguished ‘by the presuppositions on which they build, the questions that they privilege, the interpretive tools they prefer, and the texts to which they attend’. Such a hermeneutical approach is perhaps properly always in the making as an improvisational performance of the Word by the Spirit within the community.
This paper briefly traces the four broad streams of historical development with the Pentecostal community’s hermeneutics as outlined by V. Kärkäinnen: Oral pre-reflexive, Fundamentalist-Evangelical, pneumatic exegesis and an emerging post-modern movement. This last movement is followed more closely as it unfolds in a triadic form in developing the hermeneutic suggestive by the text of the Former Prophets within the Pentecostal community taking into account the recent work on this trajectory by Scott Ellington, J. Christopher Thomas, Kenneth Archer, and Amos Yong (among others). A proposed phenomenological experience of the text by the Pentecostal community is offered toward a narrative approach to the text of the Former Prophets.

And in case you were wondering … “Former Prophets” refers to the books of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament known as Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings. 🙂

The Future of Biblical Interpretation: A Book Review

Future of Biblical InterpretationThanks to IVP Academic for providing a review copy of Porter, Stanley E. and Matthew R. Malcolm, eds., The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 176pp.
I offer the following review of this volume:

The Bible encompasses a plurality of voices, not only in genre but in perspective. And not surprisingly, interpreters of the Bible have generated a plurality of interpretations. How might biblical scholars work responsibly with and within this plurality? And what are the future directions or possibilities for biblical hermeneutics?
The essays in The Future of Biblical Interpretation originated in a conference held in honor of Anthony C. Thiselton, who is well known for his important work in hermeneutics and New Testament interpretation. After an opening essay by Thiselton on “The Future of Biblical Interpretation and Responsible Plurality in Hermeneutics,” the contributors look at the issues from a variety of angles—theological, scriptural, kerygmatic, historical, critical, ecclesial and relational. The result is an engaging conversation exploring responsible and productive interpretation of the Bible. A must-read for anyone seriously engaged in biblical scholarship today. [the preceding is from IVP Academic, see their press release: HERE]
CONTENTS:
Introduction
Stanley E. Porter and Matthew R. Malcolm
1. The Future of Biblical Interpretation and Responsible Plurality in Hermeneutics
Anthony C. Thiselton
2. Biblical Hermeneutics and Theological Responsibility
Stanley E. Porter
3. Biblical Hermeneutics and Scriptural Responsibility
Richard S. Briggs
4. Biblical Hermeneutics and Kerygmatic Responsibility
Matthew R. Malcolm
5. Biblical Hermeneutics and Historical Responsibility
James D. G. Dunn
6. Biblical Hermeneutics and Critical Responsibility
Robert C. Morgan
7. Biblical Hermeneutics and Relational Responsibility
Tom Greggs
8. Biblical Hermeneutics and Ecclesial Responsibility
R. Walter L. Moberly
Conclusion
Stanley E. Porter and Matthew R. Malcolm

Porter and Malcolm are to be commended for this very fine (and brief) volume. The contributors are all well-regarded in their own rights and many of the contributions offer helpful proposals for responsibility in Biblical interpretation. Essentially this volume proposes a sort of responsible “concordant polyphony” of interpretation (p.10). How these divergent voices are to be held in a sort of harmonic tension is another issue (as the editors note in their conclusion). The variant voices offered here tend toward a plurality of approaches to interpretation rather than simply a plurality of interpretations.
Chiefest of the contributions, from my perspective, were Anthony Thiselton’s open-ended suggestions for the future of Biblical interpretation and Richard Briggs’ Scriptural responsibility. Thiselton astutely notes that one cannot know the direction of Biblical interpretation despite seeing the directions it has taken and is taking. He thus refers to “future possibilities” rather than “future directions” (p.24). His “possibilities” are worth mentioning: (1) a genuine confluence between general hermeneutics and actual exegesis of Scripture, (2) the call to engage the text of Scripture as “Other” rather than simply self-reflection, (3) an equal weighting of the voices of Scripture, (4) a move beyond the greatest extremes of interpretive theory, (5) continued appropriation and development of Speech-Act Theory, and (6) a proper use of literary theories in hearing the voice/s of Scripture.
Briggs’ chapter proposes “four specific theological construals of Scripture that might productively frame Christian wrestling with hermeneutical plurality: two testaments, in a creative set of theological tensions, as a means of grace, and held together dialogically as the communicative acts of the one God who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and also the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (p.69). This is his manner of proposing a Christian reading of the Scriptures we hold by faith and confession. He argues it is not a responsible reading that thinks one should read apart from their commitment of faith to God in Christ as confessed by all the Church everywhere. This is, to my thinking, imperative for Christian interpreters of Scripture. Walter Moberly seems to offer a similar stream of thought within the framework of “canon”. His contribution might equally offer a helpful aim for understanding responsible Christian interpretation of the texts gathered and affirmed as authoritative for and by the Church.
Along a similar trajectory is Malcolm’s contribution. He argues for a “primed” and “faithful” interpreter (pp.81-84). This is understood to be an interpreter who holds the public confession of Christ as Lord as central to responsible interpretation of Scripture. Tom Greggs (Relational Responsibility), more specifically, speaks to a Protestant hearing of Sola Scriptura grounded in his understanding of the ecumenical creeds of the early centuries.
Less helpful contributions by James Dunn (historical responsibility) and Stanley Porter (theological responsibility) are also worth mentioning. (My appraisal of their work may be tangential to my own perspective on other related issues). Dunn offers a fine reminder of the situatedness of the Biblical texts (or any text for that matter) as well as of the interpreter. This is a necessary reminder. He does, however, seem to offer essentially his own (once again) offering of a re-reading of Paul in the strain of the “new perspective”. In this sense, I find him helpful and unhelpful. His methodology being helpful, his conclusions less than. Robert Morgan (Critical Responsibility), likewise, argues from a more thorough-going historical-critical perspective from within his own understanding of a NT theological perspective particularly with regard to the descriptions of the Jesus of history and Christ of faith.
The reason I do not find Porter’s chapter to be as helpful as others might be his (seemingly) over negative appraisal of theological interpretation in its contemporary trending. He argues for a “Biblical hermeneutic” against simply a “Biblical interpretation”. The former referring to the broader notions of theory and the latter to specific approaches to the text (or at least that is how I understand his approach). Hermeneutics is broad (entailing the interpreter as well), while interpretation is supposedly narrow and involves “processes and techniques” (p.31). I appreciate his attempts to delineate the two, but perhaps this is nuancing in ways others here have not and might themselves find unfruitful. Following his trajectory, he proposes a theological hermeneutic against a theological interpretation. Again, I find certain aspects of his approach to be helpful, while also seeming to be overly critical apart from a genuine appraisal of specifics. [Perhaps what is really needed is my own further interaction with other writings of Porter to better grapple with his approach]
Perhaps one of the most poignant comments for many of those who might make use of a volume like this was Walter Moberly’s personal narrative interwoven within his discussion of Ecclesial Responsibility:

“the way the Bible is taught in divinity schools and seminaries in the US…[is] not fit for [the ecclesial purpose of producing] future leaders of churches who will spend much time reading and interpreting Biblical texts, can finish their studies and still be relatively clueless about how to handle these texts well in the situations in which they find themselves” (p.134, referring to the comparable appraisal of Dale B. Martin, Pedagogy of the Bible: An Analysis and Proposal [Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox, 2008]).

That is a danger, all too real, that it would be hoped The Future of Biblical Interpretation might aid in remedying in part by at least raising the imperative questions of (as the subtitle claims) responsible plurality in Biblical hermeneutics. This is a welcome volume that should be incorporated into hermeneutic reading requirements for graduate level courses in Biblical hermeneutics and it is a fine praise to the tremendous contributions of the scholarship of Anthony Thiselton.
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See what other reviewers have to say:
Nate Claiborne
Jim West (forthcoming)

Daniel Block on Inductive Study

Daniel Block offers some basic (but essential) advice to students of Scripture to study the text as primary, rather than turning to other sources first.

“When you are wrestling with biblical texts, wrestle with the texts.”

(see more at Koinonia).

Biblical Interpretation Book Giveaway!

Invitation to Biblical InterpretationI have managed to acquire an extra copy of Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson’s, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Kregel Academic, 2011). This volume approaches the text via the historical/literary/theological method where these three aspects must be considered carefully in order to move toward a proper interpretation of Scripture. The volume’s approach begins with discussion of the canonical elements (because of the place this text has within the community which affects all else), moving to genre discussions (with analysis of specific passages), and finally discussing issues like discourse, syntax, and word studies. This is the opposite direction that a number of other texts have taken and it is (in my opinion) a more welcome approach for teaching students how to properly interpret Scripture. (The wonderful folks of Kregel Academic also offer quizzes and power-point slides for professors adopting this text).
With that said, I am going to give away 1 copy of this book to a randomly selected commenter to this post (with a maximum of four entries per person and one entry per each of the following):

  1. Leave a comment answering the question: “What is your favorite genre of Scripture and why?”
  2. Link to this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment with a link to your FB post.
  3. Link to this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment with a link to your Twitter post.
  4. Re-blog this giveaway linking to this post.

The giveaway will end Wednesday, November 13th at 11:59PM. The winner will be announced Thursday morning. Happy commenting. 🙂
_____________
Due to shipping costs I am only offering this giveaway to those residing in the U.S. and Canada. I will contact the winner privately to obtain a shipping address.

Let Women Remain Silent (or Not)

Women Should Remain Silent (?)Last week in class we discussed 1 Corinthians 14.33-35. Talk about a controversial text. How does one properly interpret such a passage?  I was asked by a number of friends if I might post my notes on this. Instead of posting notes, here are “points to ponder” in working toward a proper interpretation of this passage. Perhaps I should mention at the beginning that I did not bring up the typical explanation of this being a house church wherein the women and men sat in different areas (a much later practice nowhere testified to in the NT) and thus the women would be somehow disruptive by asking their husbands something from across the room. Such a maneuver requires a historical reconstruction of which (at best) is shaky. So I offer the following after the verses in question:

 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV2011)

Points to ponder:
* The paragraph break for the end of verse 33 in various translations alters the reading with relation to the universal sense? Is God about peace and order “in all the churches of the saints” or are women to remain silent “as in all the churches of the saints”? (See my comments on the translations HERE). The former is followed in the such translations as the ESV and NIV84, the latter in the footnote of NIV84 and the NLT. The grammar is ambiguous. The theology, points to the latter as the more likely referent.
* “Woman” in verse 34 is clarified by speaking to ‘her husband’ in verse 35. How would this apply to single women? Does it only immediately then apply to married women?
* Women were already told they could “prophesy and pray” in 1 Cor.11.6 as long as they do so with propriety. How then should we understand not being allowed to “speak” in 1 Cor.14.34? It would not be a total speaking censure.
* this passage is framed before and after by discussions of prophesying and its proper regulation for orderliness. Has this passage shifted contexts or is it actually still regulating prophecy in the church to function in an orderly manner? How so?
* To “ask her husband” is grammatically suggestive (following the extensive lexical and semantic analysis of Waldemar Kowalski’s paper at SPS 2013 in Seattle, WA) of a critiquing and (likely) rejection. If this is actually about prophesying it would point to a husband prophesying and his wife questioning it (or him) in a negative way. While the others are already instructed to weigh what is said, if the wife of the one prophesying were to do so in the corporate worship setting it would lack propriety. She should therefore save such a questioning for the privacy of their home.
So where might this leave us for interpretation? How do you read this? Do these talking “points” help you to better understand some of the issues involved?
________________________
* It is also of note that Gordon Fee (in his NICNT commentary on 1 Corinthians) points out that some of the manuscript evidence places this text (vv.34-35) to after the chapter. His proposal (which I personally find weak, but mention because…well…its Fee) is that this text is not original to 1 Corinthians.

Playing with Gadamer

“What man needs is not just the persistent posing of ultimate questions, but the sense of what is feasible, what is possible, what is correct, here and now.” (Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method [trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald Marshall; 2nd rev.ed.; New York: Continuum, 2002], p.xxxviii).Gadamer

In my “leisure” reading, I’m working through a number of volumes dealing with interpretive theory and the history of Biblical hermeneutics. One of these volumes is Stanley E. Porter & Jason C. Robinson’s Hermeneutics: An Introduction to Interpretive Theory (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011). Porter and Robinson provide biographical context to each of the influential theorists which are included, like Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Ricoeur, Derrida, Thiselton, and Vanhoozer. Among these (and others), they discuss the philosophical hermeneutic of Hans-Georg Gadamer.
What strikes me is Gadamer’s sense of “play” (Spiel) in relation to what he describes as the “fusion of horizons” (the interplay of the horizon of reader with that of the text where neither is unaltered by this discourse). The rejection of notions of abstract objectivity and duly the rejection of total personal subjectivity are key. Gadamer tries to offer a more realist approach that believes the two horizons work in a dialectical interchange.

“Gadamer’s hermeneutics is concerned with establishing a dialectic or open-ended questioning and answering between the past and present, and between the world and the interpreter. Knowledge is about more than simply taking a good look to see what is there. It is a product of asking sincere questions that we do not already know the answers to, answers that may surprise and even disappoint our expectations.” (Porter & Robinson, Introduction, p.80).

For Gadamer there can be no getting at another’s meaning (text, art, conversation) apart from genuine interplay between the horizons: an openness to the “other” that cannot predetermine answers  to the questions without failing to genuinely interact toward fullest understanding.

“Understanding is more than merely re-creating another’s meaning. It occurs when we appreciate questionableness and open-endedness, and when we begin working out available possibilities.” (Porter& Robinson, Interpretation, p.101)

Further, this pertains to the study of Scripture. We cannot (following Gadamer’s proposal) approach Scripture for understanding apart from an openness to hear answers and be asked questions which we could not have imagined beforehand and may not even immediately agree with. “[T]o read a biblical passage and allow the text to speak for itself may mean that the interpreter comes away from it frustrated and disappointed because what was said was not expected or desired. Such is an indication of a genuine play, dialogue, and an encounter with difference that offers new truth” (Porter & Robinson, Interpretation, p.94).
This was readily apparent in the college course I taught last semester on the books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. If one can read these books without being troubled about the world and the God of Israel who is the maker of heaven and earth, then was has not truly taken care to interact with these texts. This account of Israel and her God intentionally disturbs our consciences. It stirs us to question what we think we know about this God.
So what do you think? Does this “fusion of horizons” via the openness of genuine interplay help your thinking about how best to understand Scripture?

Change Is Coming

Today was a tear-filled day as I announced my resignation to Karlstad Assembly of God effective the end of July. I have been asked to join the faculty of Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, ND as Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies. I will be teaching primarily Old Testament, but also hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation) and homiletics (preaching) even while I continue my PhD studies through Bangor University – Wales, UK.
This is an exciting adventure before us, but it is heart-wrenching to leave our church and community that we have grown to love deeply.
There have been many tears shed in our family even as we look with anticipation to what the Lord has for our future. We ask you all to join with us in praying for the Lord’s blessing and care through this transition as we are sent out for new opportunities to be and to make disciples elsewhere.

Emerging Homiletics

ImageI just realized that while my paper “Emerging Homiletics: A Pentecostal Response” was accepted for presentation at the Society for Pentecostal Studies annual meeting (March 20-22, 2013) in Seattle, WA, I had failed to post it to this blog. So feel free to follow the link above and select the paper from the limited number I’ve already posted on several other topics.
And while you are at it, here was my proposal to the Practical Theology study group:

It is hoped that through a study of one leading voice (Doug Pagitt‘s) in the Emerging Church Movement (ECM) that there might be a more well-rounded perspective of what ECM may be offering for homiletics as well as the potential impact specifically upon the field of homiletics. While Pagitt’s voice will not be the only voice, it will be the primary one as he has written several volumes on the question of homiletics from the ECM perspective.
Pagitt’s own model for homiletics will be discussed in its relation to Pentecostal homiletical thinking and practice as a model which might better exemplify what Pagitt is aiming to accomplish, but perhaps without many of the pitfalls. In order to facilitate this study, questions of worldview, hermeneutic and homiletic will be briefly presented from a post-modern perspective with particular attention to such matters as proposed by Pagitt. The notion of “story,” and “community” will be discussed as it relates to the Pentecostal experience of preaching in response to the post-modern perspective proposed by Pagitt.
The Pentecostal response which is offered as a conclusion is tentatively intended to both utilize the strengths of Pagitt’s proposal as well as critique it in hopes of proposing a more thoroughly Biblical and Pneumatic approach to homiletics within the broader ECM.

So what are your thoughts on the homiletic proposals of ECM (particularly Pagitt) and/or Pentecostalism as I’ve briefly described them?

What About Bob?

My younger brother Bob has just finished his second Masters (Information Systems Technology).  He earned this one at the University of Indiana Bloomington and up until recently I was unable to comprehend just what it was he was studying, but then my brother Alfonso pointed me to Bob’s You-tube site where I found this “informative” video (hope you enjoy):

I figured I would post this educational video here for others who have inquired about what Bob has been up to…for those interested he and his wife and daughter are now in the process of moving to Brazil in a few months when Grace finishes her Masters (Library Science) in Bloomington.

Make sure to check out some of Bob’s excellent work (including the scrib’d “Essays in Biblical Interpretation”).