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Biblical Hermeneutics Syllabus

Notes & Transcripts

INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS (BSHM5310)

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Dr. Walter E. Brown (WBrown@nobts.edu)

Dr. Craig Price (CPrice@nobts.edu)

January 2006

I. SEMINARY MISSION STATEMENT:

The mission of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment through the local church and its ministries.

II. COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course is a study of the principles of biblical interpretation, an introduction to the major resources available for biblical interpretation, and an exegetical study of selected passages from the various types of biblical literature. The major focus of the course is practical—the course goal is that the students develop sound methods of exegesis and application of biblical texts.

III. COURSE OUTCOMES:

 

Knowledge

Students who complete this course successfully should:

Understand the significance of hermeneutics

Know the basic methods of biblical interpretation that have been practiced throughout history

Know basic principles of grammatical-historical interpretation that lead interpreters to discover the meaning intended by the biblical author

Know the major genres of scripture and the hermeneutical principles that should be applied to each genre

Know the important tools that may be useful in the study of the biblical text

Know principles that guide modern preachers and teachers in applying biblical truths to our contemporary context

 


Attitudes

Students who complete this course successfully should:

Appreciate the complexities of the exegetical task

Recognize the importance of sound exegesis

Be more confident in interpreting biblical texts

 

Skills

Students who complete this course successfully should:

Research cultural and historical background that may shed light upon the biblical text

Prepare word studies that lead the interpreter to understand better the biblical author’s usage of special vocabulary significant to the exegetical task

Determine how the literary context affects the meaning of a text

Derive timeless truths from the biblical text and show how these should affect the beliefs and behavior of contemporary Christians

 


IV. COURSE REQUIRED TEXTS:

Bible in modern translation: RSV, NRSV, NASV, NIV, GNB, NLT, HCSB, etc.

Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3 ed. rd Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002 (= FS)

William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Revised and Updated. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004 (= KBH)

Walter E. Brown, “Noah: Sot or Saint? Genesis 9:20–27,” The Way of Wisdom: Essays in Honor of Bruce K. Waltke, J. I. Packer and Sven K. Soderlund (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), pp. 36–60.

 

V. COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

 

Pre-Workshop assignments due at beginning of the first session of Workshop week

1. Reading Reports (10%). Students will report their reading of the required texts in two ways:

a) students will sign a report form and indicate what percentage of the reading of the texts they have completed, and

b) students will submit four (4) 1 page summaries of the guidelines for interpretation of specific genres presented in selected chapters of the texts (from FS, one summary on an OT genre and one summary on a NT genre; from KBH, one summary on an OT genre and one summary on a NT genre, resulting in summaries of four different genres).

2. History of Interpretation Report (10%)

Read the assigned sections in the text, outline the first segment according to the following major headings and provide for each section:

1)                  a minimum of a quarter page summary containing a reflection of the major ideas expressed, as well as

2)                  at least one question raised by the reading:

Jewish Interpretation

The Apostolic Period

The Patristic Period

The Middle Ages

The Reformation

The Post-Reformation Period

The Modern Period

Outline the second segment, divided into two major parts, according to the following subheadings under the two major headings and provide for each subsection:

1)                  a minimum of a quarter page summary containing a reflection of the major ideas expressed, as well as

2)                  at least one question raised by the reading:

Literary Criticism

Narrative Criticism

Poststructuralism

Social-Scientific Approaches

Classifications

Advocacy Groups

The content of these reports will serve as a partial basis for class discussion on the subject.

 

Workshop assignments due during workshop week

3. Background Study (15%). Compile a background study about the historical and cultural context for an assigned passage. Students will be given a guide for completing this assignment. Due beginning of class, Thursday, January 19. Late penalty is five points per day, beginning at the class hour of the due date.

4. Word Study (15%). Complete a word study on a word indicated from an assigned text. Students will be given a guide for completing this assignment. Due beginning of class, Friday, January 20. Late penalty is five points per day, beginning at the class hour of the due date.

 


Post-Workshop assignments due after Workshop week

5. Project (50%). The major project in the course is an exegetical paper, which is to be produced in two stages (specific instructions found at the end of the syllabus).

(1) First Stage (30%)

The first stage is a thorough exegetical study that is to follow the attached guidelines, 6-10 text pages in length. At the end of this stage, the student should have gathered all the essential knowledge from the text and be ready to begin the task of constructing a sermon or a teaching lesson. Due in the professor email box, Tuesday, February 7. Late penalty is five points per day.

(2) Second Stage (20%)

The second stage is a polished, written paper, 3-4 text pages in length, presenting the information gathered in the first stage in ready-to-deliver form. The purpose of this stage is to synthesize the data you have gathered in the first two stages into a well-written presentation. The paper may take either of two forms: (1) a sermon manuscript, i.e., written out word-for-word, ready to deliver orally, or (2) a teaching and plan, fully developed. In either case, this stage should have an interesting introduction, developed body, and a conclusion that ties the paper together. Thus, this stage contrasts in presentation with the first stage, in that the first stage is merely a step-by-step distillation of your findings, whereas the second stage is a finished and polished work. Be sure to consider your audience in choosing the format of the paper and in shaping the material for presentation. More detailed instructions for this stage are also to be found attached. Due in the professor email box, Tuesday, February 14. Late penalty is five points per day.

 

VI. COURSE GRADING

Reading Reports 10%

History of Interpretation Report 10%

Background Study 15%

Word Study 15%

Exegetical Project 50%

First Stage 30%

Second Stage 20%

 


VII. COURSE SCHEDULE

 

Monday (Jan 16)

Session 1 1:00-4:00 PM

Introduction to the Course and Components of a Hermeneutical Model

History of Interpretation

Principles and Process of Interpretation

Session 2 5:00-8:00 PM

Principles and Process of Interpretation

Interpreter, Goal, and Application

Discussion: Project, Texts, Procedures, etc.

 

Tuesday (Jan 17)

Session 1 9:00-12:00 AM

Background Studies

Word Studies

Basic Tools for Interpretation:

Commentaries and Translations

Session 2 1:00-4:00 PM

Methods and Principles of Interpretation

World View

Interpreting Old Testament Narrative

 

Wednesday (Jan 18)

Session 1 9:00-12:00 AM

Interpreting the Epistles

Interpreting New Testament Narrative: Acts

Session 2 1:00-4:00 PM

Interpreting Old Testament Law

Interpreting the Prophets

 

Thursday (Jan 19)

Background Study due at beginning of session

Session 1 9:00-12:00 AM

Interpreting the Prophets

Interpreting the Psalms

Session 2 1:00-4:00

Interpreting the Gospels

Interpreting the Parables

 


Friday (Jan 20)

Word Study due at beginning of session

Session 1 8:00-12:00 AM

Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom

Interpreting Apocalyptic: Revelation

Discussion of Assigned Papers

 

Post-Workshop Assignment Due Dates:

 

(1) Project, Stage 1: Tuesday, February 7

(2) Project, Stage 2: Tuesday, February 14

 

Note: These assignments are to be submitted as email attachments in either Microsoft Word Format (97/98, 2000/2001 or later) or WordPerfect format (reasonably recent editions). Those studying OT passages will submit assignments to Dr. Brown and those studying NT passages will submit assignments to Dr. Price.

 


VIII. GUIDELINES FOR EXEGETICAL PROJECT

 

Stage One

This paper assignment contains the primary steps to be taken in a full-blown exegesis of a Biblical passage. When it is completed, you should be ready to add the homiletical components of sermon preparation and then to preach the sermon. The paper must follow the following steps, in order. In your paper, please give each heading and then do the work asked for. This paper is not a typical term paper in the sense of having an ordered introduction, statement of purpose, development of thought, and conclusion. These are not needed. You should begin on the first page with the ext section and proceed through the paper according to the outline below. The final product will be a collection of the separate sections below, but they are all ordered in a logical sequence that should help in sermon preparation. (For more instructions on the mechanics of producing the paper, see the last page.) Note that the work going into this paper will undoubtedly be more than you will have available to you week-by-week for sermon preparation. However, in doing this in-depth exercise, you should learn the essential steps for a proper exegesis. The more you do this, the easier it will become and the more it will be second nature to you. Enjoy!

 

1. Text. Write out the text of the passage chosen, including verse numbers and indications of your own paragraph divisions, from one of the following translations: KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, NJPSV, REB, RAB, NLT. (.5 page). NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED.

 

2. Historical Background. Focus here is on information not directly gathered from the text itself or its literary contexts (i.e., things such as dates, international situation, etc.). Include here the major results of your sample historical background study. Also remember that you will need to do more general background study for the larger project, as well as other specific historical, cultural topical studies. Outside sources (such as Bible commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, or histories) should be used here. (1 page)

 

3. Literary Context. (1) Discuss the placement of the passage in its immediate and larger contexts within the book, and (2) justify the paragraph divisions you have provided above. Look for clues in the immediately preceding and following contexts (the surrounding paragraphs and chapters) that show how the passage you are considering fits into its context (i.e., why it is where it is). NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED. (.5 page)

 

4. Paragraph Analysis. Identify the theme of each paragraph in one sentence per paragraph. The theme may be a key sentence taken directly from the text or a statement in your own words. Justify your judgment in each case (i.e., give your reasons for it). NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED. (.5 page)

 

5. Verse Analysis. Comment here on important features of individual verses. (In a longer passage, focus on each paragraph instead of each verse.) Do not merely summarize each verse (or paragraph) or re-state the obvious. Do comment on the flow of the argument or story-line from verse to verse (or paragraph to paragraph), including addressing why certain things may be stated in a particular way, why certain statements are included where they are, why omissions of expected materials occur, etc. Comment as needed on important theological words or ideas. Notice where else in the book or in other biblical books certain words or ideas are found. You may use concordances or theological wordbooks here, including any cross-referencing guide you like (such as that found within most Bibles themselves), but, you may not use a commentary here. Do your own work here. NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED. (1-2 pages)

 

6. Theme. Based upon the various stages of your detailed analysis above, and especially building upon your statements of theme for each paragraph, provide a one-sentence statement of the theme of the entire text (i.e., what is the author's main point in this section?). Explain the basis for your decision. NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED. (.5 page)

 

7. Word Study. Include here the major results of your sample word study (not the raw data you presented earlier). Also remember that you probably will need to do other word studies for this larger project. (.5 page)

 

8. Outline. Present an xegetical ( istorical outline of the text, reflecting the theme. NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED. (.5 page)

 

9. Homiletical (Sermon or Teaching) Outline. This outline should derive from the exegetical outline. Also include a one-sentence re-statement of the theme (point "6." above), a desired audience response, and a concluding challenge. NO COMMENTARY PERMITTED. (.5 page)

 

10. Commentary Comparison. Include here any additional essential insights gleaned from three exegetical commentaries. These must be insights that you did not already uncover in your own work. You may include these insights into the body of your work in Stage Two of your paper, but here, be sure to do the work asked for in the order requested. (.5 page)

 

Note 1: The use of commentaries is to be limited to the specific instructions for the Project; the only points at which you are to use them are in the Historical Background step and in Step 10 of Stage One. The reason for this restriction is to help you to see how commentaries can be most helpful to you in your work, rather than becoming an unhealthy crutch and a hindrance to developing you own spiritual insight.

 

Note 2: Page numbers here are suggested guides only. The major concern is that you accomplish the required work. However, the final product should be no less than six (6) and no more than ten (10) pages (or 3600 to 6000 words).

 


Stage Two

The last stage is a polished paper presenting the information gathered in the first stage in ready to-deliver form. The purpose of this stage is to synthesize the data you have gathered in the first stage into a well-written presentation.

The paper may take one of two forms:

  1. A sermon manuscript, i.e., written out word-for-word, ready to deliver orally, or
  2. A teaching paper and plan, fully developed. In either case, this stage should have an interesting introduction, a developed body, and a conclusion that ties the paper together.

Thus, this stage contrasts with the first stage in that the first stage is merely a step-by-step distillation of your findings.

The second stage is a finished and polished work.

Be sure to consider your audience in choosing the format of the paper and in shaping the material for presentation. (3-4 pages)(or 1800 to 2400 words)

Style and Formatting Guidelines for Papers

The papers are to be neatly typed using no larger than a 12-point font, single-spaced. Please number the pages, use a ragged right margin (i.e., not justified right). Any standard scheme of footnotes, endnotes, or text notes found in Kate L. Turabian A Manual for Writers is acceptable; but it must be used consistently, and full and proper documentation must be provided for any sources used (listings should be by author and title of book, commentary, or article [not editor!], with series name and editor appearing at the appropriate place), including a separate bibliography appended to the paper.

Standard academic writing procedures must be followed, including writing in your own words, giving proper credit when quoting or referring to material from another work, and writing in good English. Students who may have trouble with writing of English are expected to have their papers proofread by someone conversant in English writing skills prior to production of the papers.

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