Monday, December 1, 2014

Peterson, 1987. Chapter 5, "Contemplating Exegesis"

Chapter 5, “Contemplative Exegesis” (Loc. 1033)

“Scriptural exegesis is surgical work: cutting through layers of history, culture, and grammar; laying bare the skeletal syntax and grammatical muscle; excising mistakes that were introduced inadvertently in the  transmission of the text; repairing misunderstandings that have crept into interpretations across the centuries; observing the incredible and fascinating complexity of the organism as the hidden parts are exposed to view” Loc. 1037). Peterson goes on to say that the tools available to us are superior to those held by previous generations. Yet often in our zeal to dissect Scripture we allow it to die on the operating table. We fail to contemplate the God revealed in Scripture.

Because words communicate real meaning to the inward, invisible man, it is very important that we attend to the meaning of those words. At Loc. 1081 Peterson asserts that we must avoid letting the Scriptures be a knowledge-base, or a textbook. Rather, they are the living God’s words of life. This view in religion is a radical departure from the other religions of antiquity, which were based on ceremonial actions (Loc. 1107).

Not only do we receive God’s Word as a spoken word, we also receive it in the way it was communicated. This means we are sensitive to the genre found in Scripture. Peterson observes (Loc. 1165ff) that all stories have similarities - a beginning, a catastrophe, a plan for salvation, and an ending. Within the story we also find motion, characters, and varied levels of significance. This is the case with all stories, including Scripture. It is the job of the exegete to contemplate and communicate this story.

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