Sunday 14 December 2008

Nine Theses on the Interpretation of Scripture

The Scripture Project, ‘Nine Theses on the Interpretation of Scripture’, in Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays (eds.), The Art of Reading Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 1-5.

This symposium, edited by Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays, represents the fruit of a four-year conversation called ‘The Scripture Project’, and is an excellent showcase for theological hermeneutics. It begins with ‘Nine Theses on the Interpretation of Scripture’ which distil what the subsequent chapters in the volume explore at greater length.

(1) Scripture truthfully tells the story of God’s action of creating, judging, and saving the world.

(2) Scripture is rightly understood in the light of the church’s rule of faith as a coherent dramatic narrative.

(3) Faithful interpretation of Scripture requires an engagement with the entire narrative: the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old be rightly understood apart from the New.

(4) Texts of Scripture do not have a single meaning limited to the intent of the original author. In accord with Jewish and Christian traditions, we affirm that Scripture has multiple complex senses given by God, the author of the whole drama.

(5) The four canonical Gospels narrate the truth about Jesus.

(6) Faithful interpretation of Scripture invites and presupposes participation in the community brought into being by God’s redemptive action – the church.

(7) The saints of the church provide guidance in how to interpret and perform Scripture.

(8) Christians need to read the Bible in dialogue with diverse others outside the church.

(9) We live in tension between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom of God; consequently, Scripture calls the church to ongoing discernment, to continually fresh rereadings of the text in the light of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the world.

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