Posted by: Billy Marsh | June 16, 2009

Sojourners and Theological Interpretation

Introducing Theological Interpretation: Recovering a Christian Practice ~ Daniel TreierIt’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on “sojourners,” “pilgrims,” or “journey” as a motif for the Christian life. For those of you who do not have a long history following my blog, this subject is supposed to be the defining element of “Joy in the Journey” and it was the motivation for me starting a blog at all. I wanted to flesh this concept out and let my blog be a way of commending this way of viewing the Christian life to you. If you want to read more about how I’ve taught the “sojourner” theme from Scripture, click here to visit a table of contents of sorts for more posts on this topic.

In addition, I also try to post excerpts from sources other than the Bible that speak in favor of the “Christian pilgrim” worldview. That’s what this post is about. This passage is from a book called Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice by Daniel Treier. “Theological Interpretation” is the name more or less both for a movement and an activity regarding how to explain the Bible theologically. It is in large part a response to an approach to Scripture that held great influence on the doctrine of Scripture and hermeneutics after the Enlightenment and into the 20th century. This method of Bible study treated the analysis of the scriptures more so as a science; one that in many cases ended up denying the historical reliability of the Bible as well as silencing its ability to develop Christian doctrine. “Theological Interpretation” is still hard to define as can be seen in Treier’s book which never really gives a clear definition for the term. Nevertheless, a summary of what is meant in the title can be explained as the theological practice where “Christians read the Bible as Scripture, authoritative as God’s Word for faith and life; thus, to interpret Scripture [is] to encounter God (13).” It offers a “churchly reading of the Bible” (14). This will seem obvious to the everyday laymen, but in the academy, conservative evangelical scholarship that is done for the sake of church has not always been the dominant influence in the world of theology.

That being said, I found it very interesting that on the final page of Treier’s book that he linked the recovery of theological interpretation with the sojourner theme in order to help illustrate how one uses and interprets the Bible for doing theology. Prior to this portion, Treier is using the idea of “maps” and “lenses” as metaphors for how Scripture is seen through the service of theological interpretation. I won’t go into full detail about how he fleshed out these metaphors because I want to place the emphasis on his linkage of it with “journey” in the passage below. Essentially what he is saying is that just as the Christian life is one of a constant journey to reach our heavenly destination, so also theological interpretation is a journey where we are ever striving to reach that end where the dim mirror of this world will pass away and we will see God face to face and know him fully even as we have all this time been fully known (1 Cor 14:12).

Treier writes,

Speaking of maps complements the metaphor of lenses by reminding us that we are not merely spectators when it comes to Scripture, pointing us to the journey motif that is so important for understanding the church’s spiritual life. Theological interpretation of Scripture, in the end, is an essential practice in the Christian pilgrimage of seeking to know God. It is that pursuit by which we endeavor to know where we are going and to catch a glimpse of what it will be like to arrive at our destination (205).

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Responses

  1. Hi,

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