Global Interpretations of Christian Scriptures

Global Interpretations of Christian Scriptures

GLOBAL INTERPRETATIONS OF CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES RLST 206 AND DIV 3845 Feb 13, 2012 Today 3:10 Contemporary Models for the Interpretation of Scriptures: SACRAMENTAL-LITURGICAL HERMENEUTICS 4:15-5:10 Group Discussions: Group 1: JOHN Petros Vassiliadis, Group 2: HEBREWS Stelian Tofan, 5:10 Lecture: Classical Models of Interpretations of Scriptures

John (Petros Vassiliadis, Greece) Presenter of GBC: George Greene Leader: Miladys Perez 1. Brendan Matthews 2. Annie Ameha 4. Shaun Kahler 5. Courtney Drescher 6. Brenda Kao 7. Julie Carli 8. Samantha Hesley

Hebrews (Stelian Tofana, Romania) Presenter: Chanel Baker Leader: Alison Stuhl Respondent to Leader : Michael Durham 1. Julia Rushing 2. Brian Rossbert 3. Toni Bland 4. Brittany Melvin 5. Kathryn Biddle

6. Alexandra Dahlgren 7. Zachary King 8. Nicky Hackett Visit on Sunday Feb. 19: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church 4905 Franklin Pike Nashville, TN 37220 The Divine Liturgy (worship service; 10:00 am) followed by Q & A with Fr. Gregory Hohnholt Have questions ready out of your readings of Greek Orthodox interpretations of the Gospel of John and of Hebrews in the Global Bible Commentary

We will organize rides (leaving campus 9:15)? From where? Who can provide a ride? Choosing Your Biblical Text For The Paper DUE Feb 20 by 10am Give me 3 ranked choices of biblical texts, not discussed in first half of class (until March 12) For each choice, tell me in two (2) to three (3) lines why (the contextual reasons; the issue, the problem, the concern; Singular; 1 specific context!) you chose each given text. Why is it significant for you? Why is it more significant for you than other texts of the Bible?(relate to your 10 lines)

You may use the same context for the 3 texts In your paper proposal, you will explain in detail what you intend to do with it I will tell you by class time what text was assigned to you (obviously, hopefully your first choice) M-Feb. 20 : Sign up Practicing reading with others Group 1: 1- 2 SAMUEL Gerald West (Kwa-Zulu, S. Africa) Presenter of GBC : Miladys Perez Leader (his/her own vs. GBC): Kathryn Biddle Respondent to Leader :

Brendan Matthews Group 2: EPHESIANS John Riches (Scotland, U.K.) Presenter of GBC : Courtney Drescher Leader (his/her own vs. GBC): Zachary King Respondent to Leader : Shaun Kahler Three weeks ago: Contextual studies may be focused on Inculturation

all interpretations are inculturated = influenced by the (cultural) context from which we read. This means that our Textual Choices are viewed as LEGITIMATE, = grounded in the text, according to our culture Theological/hermeneutical choices are viewed as PLAUSIBLE according to our culture Contextual Choices are viewed as VALID (= valuable) according to our culture Two weeks Ago: Contextual studies may be focused on Liberation Focused on Interpretive Contextual Choices

Ethical/moral test: Loving Neighbor How is this text helpful in a specific lifecontext? Involves a particular Theologicalhermeneutical choices: Scripture as corrective lenses Last Week: Inter(con)textual Character of Interpretations Contextual studies may be focused on the Inter(con)textual Character of Interpretations Focused on Interpretive Theological /Hermeneutical Choices

How to make sense of the biblical text? Issue: PLAUSIBILITY of the text and what it says about human life. The Biblical Text Makes Sense if, and if only, we read it in terms of other texts of our lives and cultures. Bible as Scripture read in Worship, Sacramental-Liturgical Contexts Scripture is read by believers in Sacramental-Liturgical Context

Community Worship Context in which liturgy is rejected for a more informal worship service (another form of liturgy!) Personal worship related to individual religious experience! Each case includes: Religious experiences and Rituals as realities no human (including no agnostic & no atheist) can escape Without a vision of life that frames our lives we cannot live (and commit suicide when we lose it) Without rituals this vision of life crumbles Ritual Theory Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Lewis

Morgan Lectures) (1969) Catherine Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (Oxford University Press, 1997). Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions. Revised edition. (Oxford University Press, 2009) Turners view of Ritual For Turner, threefold structure of rituals (e.g. rites of passage):

a pre-liminal phase (separation), a liminal phase (transition), and a post-liminal phase (reincorporation). in liminality, individuals are "betwixt and between": in limbo, an ambiguous period characterized by humility, seclusion A stage where ones autonomy as individual is suspended (heteronomy) and where rules of society (relationality) are suspended (so ritual communitas of heteronomy; an unstructured community where all members are equal); enough theory! Religious Experience and Ritual I Love You most powerful three words in the English language. (This is Valentines Day tomorrow!) Express a feeling a strong feeling regarding

This feeling is for us a reality = Being in Love Ones relationship [I] to someone else [you] love : An intimate relationship that so totally frames who I am, and who you are that we have a new life together as us. The really real -- the most real reality A reality that happens in an encounter, a powerful encounter (seeing him; seeing her for the first time; falling in love) that transforms our lives And is reenacted, maintained, and strengthened through rituals of love. Autonomy-RelationalityHeteronomy: 3 modes of existence

We Necessarily Have 3 modes of Existence Our individual life: Autonomy Our life in relation with others in social networks & community: Relationality Our religious, mystical, in love, proprioceptive experience(s) (ranging from infant-mother to mystical experience) Heteronomy Autonomy-RelationalityHeteronomy:

Coakley, Sarah. Kenosis and subversion, pp. 82-111 in Daphne Hampson, ed. Swallowing a Fishbone? Feminist Theologians Debate Christianity. London: SPCK, 1996. Grenholm, Cristina, Motherhood and Love: Finding Space for Thought Beyond the Gendered Stereotypes of Theology. Grand Rapids, Mi: Eerdsman, 2011 Hampson, Daphne. On Autonomy and Heteronomy pp. 116 in Daphne Hampson, ed. Swallowing a Fishbone? Feminist Theologians Debate Christianity. London: SPCK, 1996. Three modes of existence; each can be the center Autonomy-Centered = Individual-Centered Life = I am in control 1.

Relational Life and Heteronomous Life are shaped and defined by individuals Relationality-Centered = Community/Society Centered Life = the community is in control 2. Individual Life and Heteronomous Life are shaped and defined by Community/Society Heteronomy-Centered = Religious Experience Centered Life 3. Individual Life and Relational Life are shaped and defined by Religious Experience (including Absence of & Negative

Religious Experience) 1. Autonomy-[= Individual]Centered A. B. C. I as a self have an identity defined by what I choose to do and not to do; I am an agent; autonomy-centered life. knowledge, will, ability I as an agent control and shape the networks of relations in which I am involved: = I am responsible for the RELATIONAL networks in which I participate I am responsible for my religious experience, and thus control my HETERONOMOUS experiences = e.g., I decided to give my life to Christ; I fell in love 2. Relationality-Centered life

A. B. C. We as a group have an identity defined by the network of relations which characterizes our group; relationality-centered life We are individuals with identities defined by our place and role in and for our group; autonomous experiences. We share religious experiences that shape our life and vocation as a group; communal heteronomous experiences. We (you and I) fell in love, // to We participate in our communitys vocation and community rituals. 3. Heteronomy-Centered life A. B.

C. True religious experience is abandoning or losing oneself, as individuals and as community, into the OTHER, and thus submitting to the Other. heteronomy-centered life. Our identity as a community, its ideology, and its relational networks are shaped by our collective heteronomous experience in rituals, sacraments. My identity as a self and agent, my autonomy is shaped by my heteronomous experience in religious experience. Identity If you are the Son of God = 3 Rootproblems: in each case, I is not based on Heteronomy/worshiping God AUTONOMY =I with an identify = will; knowing what I want

Matt 4:2-3 Jesus was famished command these stones to become loaves of bread. = this is what your WILL should be = your self-centered will is wrong; Matthew 4:4 4 But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. = living by word from God.' = Heteronomy = Will shaped by ones experience of God RELATIONALITY: I with ideology Matt 4:6 throw yourself down; for it is written, God will save you; wrong IDEOLOGY: God is at our service (as other people are) Matthew 4:7 7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' not tempting/testing God = submitting to God . = Heteronomy

Identity If you are the Son of God = 3 Rootproblems: in each case, I is not based on Heteronomy/worshiping God RELATIONALITY: I with power and authority over others Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Wrong Power authority over others gained through relationality = worshiping idols Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'

worshiping God alone falling before God alone = Heteronomy Love and Gods Love: Kenosis = Heteronomy Philippians 2:5-8 Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied [ekensen] himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross. See Tofanas reference to Kenosis (530); Christ lowering himself to suffer for us (Hebrews 2:9)

Bible as Scripture read in Worship, Sacramental-Liturgical Contexts Sacramental-Liturgical Context in which Scripture is read by believers: Is this Liturgy-Sacrament-Religious Experience: Discerning Problems in THIS context Offering Solutions in THIS context Helpful? Constructive? life-giving? Life-giving? Or Deadly? Death-giving? Destructive? Oppressive?

Do not brush aside religious experience and rituals! Religious experiences and Rituals are realities no human (also no agnostic & no atheist) can escape Without a vision of life that frames our lives we cannot live (and commit suicide when we lose it) Without rituals this vision of life cannot be maintained and crumbles Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Root-Problem Root-Problem: NOT a lack of understanding /not a lack of knowledge, or wrong knowledge

Root-Problem IS a lack of FAITH/VISION, or wrong faith/vision, or inappropriate faith/vision A liturgy does NOT presuppose that People need to understand, in order that they may believe properly A liturgy presupposes that People need first to believe, to have faith, before seeking to understand. Solution: having a (good, valid) religious experience encountering the Divine; God; the Lord; as a MYSTERY Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Religious Experience as Solution

Experience of the Mystery Experience of a mysterious reality which has power upon me/us = Heteronomy Being in Love = acknowledging the mystery of the beloved always beyond what I can know about her/ him can never be taken for granted; reduced to something can tell about her [[Valentines Day!!!]] I-Thou relationship = being lost in the other, the beloved, God Being in Love = completely shape ones existence, ones life, all aspect of ones life being under the spell of the loved one beyond understanding Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Understanding Religious Experience Understanding this Experience of the Mystery

NOT explaining away this mystery (this is destroying the mystery = denying this mystery Denying/ betraying this love relationship; Denying/betraying the I-Thou relationship Understanding this Experience of the Mystery Fides quaerens intellectum Faith seeking understanding = Acknowledging this experience; Claiming this experience

and its implications; [[not all religious experience is good]] Anselm of Canterbury (c1033-1109), I do Credo = I believe Explaining this experience to others Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye Book of Revelation and Worship: Problem: Is Worship Helpful? Constructive? Life-giving? Or

Deadly? Death-giving? Destructive? Oppressive? Root-problem: wrong faith/vision (from the perspective of the biblical text) Worship ministering to death (112-120) What we see depends on where we stand (112) following the model of worship on earthly Sphere (worship of the Beast, of the Roman State) Worship ministering to life (120-124) following the model of worship in the Heavenly Sphere (throne liturgy in heaven Rev chaps 4-5)

Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye Reading the book of Revelation in a Liturgical Context Revelation-based Worship ministering to death as a glorification of martyrdom = cult of victimhood (passive acceptance of our economic and political plight as colonized and oppressed) (113-115) As total rejection of State: African Traditional political leaders are/were not

demonic; but personified the order of the world and harmony for the benefit of humankind (115) Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye Revelation-based Worship ministering to death As separating faith and culture: African traditional Culture as a whole is not evil, pagan; must discern which traditional practices and symbols are contrary to the gospel and which are compatible (116-118) As fostering violence against heretics and non-believers;

symbolic, metaphorical violence (in liturgy, in worship is always very powerful) (118-120) Sacramental-Liturgical Context: The Power of Liturgy, Ritual Liturgy, ritual, and Scripture have power Because they convey CONVICTIONS to believers Convictions = self-evident truth Convictions as based on experience of mystery

Not demonstrated truth, not ideas that we accept because they are backed by evidence Convictions have power upon us, because they impose themselves upon us Define what is good/euphoric and bad/dysphoric They drive us to do the most sublime things or the most evil things Symbolic/metaphorical violence = actual violence Violence in the name of our faith; religious wars; crusades, Shoah/Holocaust Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye

Revelation-based Worship ministering to Life: A liturgy that establishes for believers the interrelation of spiritual, metaphysical sphere/level and the human, political sphere/level (120-122) Confirms that struggle against evil is taking place also at the spiritual level & that the present victory of God will usher in the universal and manifest reign of God to be revealed in the future. Christ as the conqueror of all visible and invisible forces = Christus Victor ( 1931 Gustaf Auln) (122-123): The greatest need among African is to see, to know, and to

experience Jesus Christ as the victor over the powers and forces from which Africa knows no means of deliverance (Mbiti, 123) The death of Christ has to do with much more than just the spiritual salvation of the soul (123) Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye Revelation-based Worship ministering to Life: A liturgy that establishes for believers A holistic vision of all of life (122): the African person is not an individual, for personality is defined by relationship (122)

Seeing oneself as having an intrinsic relation to other humans, to sky, to earth,; I am because we are; and because we are, I am Sacramental-Liturgical Context: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye A liturgy that establishes for believers that Human beings cannot be fully saved Saved from evil powers of all kinds unless the co-determinates of authentic human life are simultaneously saved. (122)

I am saved if, and if only, other people and the creation are also saved see Rom 8:21 the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God Liturgical Hermeneutics: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye Revelation-based Worship as Liturgy in the Presence of God A liturgy that is A worship of a living God, a world who still acts in this world and in the present

Hence, miracles are nothing extraordinary (123) the African sense of cosmic oneness, which includes God as the origin of the life force (124) Liturgical Hermeneutics: Nigeria: Chukwuma Okoye Revelation based Worship as Liturgy in the Presence of God A liturgy that is A worship of a living God, who lowers Gods self to human, and a renewed earth becomes the Holy of Holies (124) Worship transmutes into the beatific vision

Beatific vision in the Present: the immediate apprehension of God's self = entering into the very embrace of God not after death as In Western medieval theology In the present worship. In the liturgy Petros Vassiliadis, Greek Orthodox Church I will interpret Johns Gospel from the lifecontext of both post-modernity and Eastern Christianity. Post-modernity has challenged the priority of the texts over experience,

in the context of Eastern Christianity, postmodernity has even challenged the priority of faith over the eucharistic communion experience of the Kingdom of God. A eschatological-eucharistic communion experience Petros Vassiliadis The ritual (be it in a social setting or in an actual liturgical setting) gave rise to the story [the Gospel of John; other Gospels] Rather than the opposite. Christianity started around a table, a normal messianic Jewish banquet, meant as a foretaste of the coming

Kingdom of God, STELIAN TOFAN School of Orthodox Theology, Romania I write this commentary from a didactic and sacerdotal context As an orthodox priest, its [Hebrewss] content is part of the mystical reality I experience in every holy liturgy, at the altar on which Christ sacrifices himself continuously for each person, being there in a sacrificial state forever. So I read Hebrews from the liturgical context of a permanent sacerdotal relation with the eternal high priestJesus Christin his continuous sacrifice for Gods people. This liturgical context encompasses

heaven and earth, and thus daily life in society and in the natural world, where Jesus Christ, the high priest, offers his continuous sacrifice. = mystery of the incarnation continues Mystical Reality The Orthodox Church views the Bible + Ecumenical Councils + liturgy + icons as integral parts of an indivisible whole: Holy Tradition. Liturgy and iconography are not seen as only teaching tools or decoration that can be thrown away. Rather, they are sacramental POINTS OF CONTACT between God and human, made directly possible through God the Sons

becoming human An Orthodox church has been described as heaven on earth, and that is exactly what it is: a place where heaven and earth meet. Mystical Reality: Bible Bible = Word of God NOT the Word of God is the content/teaching of the Bible; Bible = Logos, incarnated Logos: a mystery Incarnation as mystery

Mystical Reality: Bible Holy Bible = Sacred Book Book through which one encounters the Divine/God Remember: Pharisees/Rabbis Where two or three are gathered and exchange words of Torah, the Shekinah is among them (see also Matt 18:20 = For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.) Oops! I forgot again we have a quiz today Divine Liturgy: St. Athanasius c.295-373

You will see the Levites [i.e. deacons] bringing the loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers and invocations have not yet been made, it is mere bread and a mere cup. But when the great and wondrous prayers have been recited, then the bread becomes the body and the cup the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ... When the great prayers and holy supplications are sent up, the Word descends on the bread and the cup, and it becomes His body. Athanasius, from his Sermon to the Newly Baptized PG 26, 1325, ICON (Iconostasis) Icon: Theotokos (Russia)

Icon: Theotokos (Russia) CHURCH for Eastern Orthodox The Church is NOT a community of believers a gathering of believers The Church is the BODY OF CHRIST and thus it manifests (or should) The presence of God in the world It is HOLY Sacramentalization of Society Sacramentalization of the World

John (Petros Vassiliadis, Greece) Presenter of GBC: George Greene Leader: Miladys Perez 1. Brendan Matthews 2. Annie Ameha 4. Shaun Kahler 5. Courtney Drescher 6. Brenda Kao 7. Julie Carli 8. Samantha Hesley

Hebrews (Stelian Tofana, Romania) Presenter: Chanel Baker Leader: Alison Stuhl Respondent to Leader : Michael Durham 1. Julia Rushing 2. Brian Rossbert 3. Toni Bland 4. Brittany Melvin 5. Kathryn Biddle

6. Alexandra Dahlgren 7. Zachary King 8. Nicky Hackett Choosing Your Biblical Text For The Paper DUE Feb 20 by 10am Give me 3 ranked choices of biblical texts, not previously discussed in class For each choice, tell me in two (2) to three (3) lines (the contextual reasons; the issue, the problem, the concern; Singular; 1 specific context!) why you chose each given text. Why is it significant for you? Why is it more significant for you than other texts of the Bible?

You may use the same context for the 3 texts In your paper proposal, you will explain in detail what you intend to do with it I will tell you by class time what text was assigned to you (obviously, hopefully your first choice)

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