Thursday, 14 June 2018

Context is everything

The school year at the Church of Sweden Institute for Pastoral Education has ended. This week I have plenty of time to prepare for next semester. Some students that enrolled in January will come back in September. We will also receive a large number of new students. The Ministerial class for priests will count between 25 and 30 students. More than we have had since I started in 2015. We are thankful for that!

One of the lecturers I give have the title (in translation):
The exegesis rests in the hermeneutics
This is a quote from Professor Emeritus Kari Syreeni. When I did Biblical Studies we were busy with exegesis. Hermeneutics would come at a later stage. As part of Systematic Theology or even at the Seminary. But in order to understand the Biblical text we must understand that a hermeneutical approach is needed from the beginning.

When I look back at my own ministry I realise that I often preached as if there was a normative theology which is constant through history. After my years in southern Africa I have changed. I find the tension between the common and the particular fruitful. In a document from the Lutheran World Federation: The Bible in the Life of the Lutheran Communion A Study Document on Lutheran Hermeneutics, I read:
Thus, today we allow space for several groups within the church and society to find their options and experiences mirrored in the Bible and the community of faith. Many of these groups have been able to put into writing their hermeneutics, such as feminist theologies with several intersections of race, class and culture, liberation theologies, queer theologies, Dalit theologies and others. We are thus required to take into consideration the relevance and the meaning of a plurality of contextual resonances of the Bible. Yet, this poses other challenge to us. The principle of contextuality implies that what in one context is helpful might be disconcerting or destabilizing in another context (a practice suffered by non-hegemonic groups as long as their particular reading was ignored)”
I am not totally happy with the introduction of the paragraph:
We allow space for several groups …
We and them. Why do we always separate us from them? Having said that, I am happy that it is mentioned that different voices need to be heard. And my own voice is also important.

One of my book shelfs.
I looked in my book shelf and found that I have a number of old collections of sermons. And a few. The old ones are named after that author. The new ones have other titles. Either ‘women preach’ or ‘ecological sermons’. The new ones give account for their perspective. The old ones pretend that they supply the normative perspective.

So, these are some of the thought I will share with one group of students when the second semester, for those who started in January, begins. Before that, however, I will have some vacation.

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