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Biblical Interpretation and the Church: The Problem of Contextualization

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All too often, problems of biblical hermeneutics are so closely tied to technical biblical study that it’s difficult to see their relationship to day-to-day issues confronting the church. Here, eight international scholars from seven countries demonstrate the vital relevance of hermeneutics to everyday church life and ministry. The writers focus on the biblical doctrine of the church and how the church carries out its mission in various cultures.

Originally presented as lectures at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England, these essays have been revised in light of the discussion and criticism that followed. They include careful biblical analyses of the nature of the church, its opponents, and of such modern concerns as social justice and liberation theology. The result is a stimulating reassessment of the role that Scripture plays in bringing Christ to persons within their cultural contexts.

For more by D.A. Carson, see Wipf & Stock D.A. Carson Collection (5 vols.).

Resource Experts
  • Biblical hermeutics applied to modern issues facing the church
  • Focus on the doctrine of the church and its everyday functions
  • Scholarship of 8 scholars from seven different countries
  • “A Sketch of the Factors in Determining Current Hermeneutical Debate in Cross-Cultural Contexts” by D.A. Carson
  • “The Church and the Kingdom of God: Some Hermeneutical Issues” by R.T. France
  • “The Church in the Gospel of Matthew: Hermeneutical Analysis of the Current Debate” by Gerhard Maier
  • “Interpreting the Biblical Models of the Church: A Hermeneutical Deepening of Ecclesiology” by Edmund P. Clowney
  • “Principalities and Powers: Opponnents of the Church” by Peter T. O’Brien
  • “The Church in African Theology: Description and Analysis of Hermeneutical Presuppositions” by Tite Tienou
  • “The Church in the Liberation Theology of Guitiérez: Description and Hermeneutical Analysis” by Emilio A. Nunex
  • “Social Justice: Underlying Hermeneutical Issues” by Russell P. Shedd

Top Highlights

“So the phrase ‘the kingdom of God’ is telling us something about God (the fact that he reigns), not describing something called ‘the kingdom’.” (Page 32)

“Two things will help us to escape from these traps. First, we badly need to listen to one another, especially when we least like what we hear; and second, we need to embark, personally and ecclesiastically, on systematic studies of Scripture that force us to confront the entire spectrum of biblical truth, what Paul calls ‘the whole counsel of God’.” (Page 23)

“If ‘pre-understanding’ refers to the mental baggage, the ‘functional non-negotiables’ that one brings to the text, Christians will happily recognize the problem and learn a little humility in their exegesis. They will insist that their ‘non-negotiables’ function this way only until further insight into the teaching of Scripture forces them to change. In this way the Scripture can retain meaningful authority in the believer’s life. But if ‘pre-understanding’ comes to mean something like ‘immutable nonnegotiables’,a function of an entire world view at odds with Scripture, then Scripture can never enjoy the right to call such ‘pre-understanding’ into question.” (Pages 12–13)

“One danger of the current hermeneutical debate is that hermeneutics may mire itself in introspection: it begins to overlook the fact that, from the perspective of Christian theology, hermeneutics, however defined, is not an end in itself, but a means to the end.” (Page 11)

“If it simply refers to the fact that God has revealed certain truth that is objectively true in every culture, it is not offensive; but if there is an attempt to distinguish among parts of the Bible, for instance, according to whether this snippet or that is supracultural or culture-bound, then the attempt is fundamentally misguided and the pursuit of the supracultural an impossible undertaking. The point I am making is that every truth from God comes to us in cultural guise: even the language used16 and the symbols adopted are cultural expressions. No human being living in time and speaking any language can ever be entirely culture-free about anything.” (Page 19)

The Logos edition of Biblical Interpretation and the Church equips you for better study with cutting-edge functionality and features. Logos Bible Software gives you the tools you need to use your digital library effectively and efficiently, searching for verses, finding Scripture references and citations instantly, and performing word studies. Additionally, important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, theology texts, and other resources in your library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. With most Logos resources, you can take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

D. A. Carson

D.A. Carson (b. 1946) is one of the most respected New Testament scholars in the world. A respected teacher, author, and speaker, he is currently research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the president of The Gospel Coalition. He has served as pastor of Richmond Baptist Church and as the first dean of the seminary of Northwest Baptist Theological College, now known as Northwest Baptist Seminary. Logos has collected his sermons—including audio—in the D.A. Carson Sermon Archive.

Carson lectures in academic and church settings around the world, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Exegetical Fallacies, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John, The Gagging of God, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12–14 and the Intolerance of Tolerance. He is the editor of the Pillar New Testament Commentary series, and coedited of the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament with G.K. Beale, and the Studies in New Testament Greek series with Stanley Porter. You can find more of Carson’s work in the Baker D.A. Carson Collection (15 vols.).


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    Digital list price: $19.99
    Save $4.00 (20%)