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Academic expertise is essential. But have you ever wondered how it itself is spiritually formative? This book, coming from an interdisciplinary assortment of scholars, shows how the exegetical methods of Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) are themselves spiritually formative. This book provides a diverse collection of essays that focus on theological interpretative methods that result in a unique transformational experience not achieved through historical-critical or grammatical-historical approaches alone. Renowned thinkers—such as biblical scholar Ben Witherington III, historical theologian Mark Elliott, and theologian Arthur Sutherland—offer new works that explore how reading theologically can transform theology, cultures, and individuals. These new studies focus on the theological exegesis of such thinkers as Mother Teresa, Thomas Aquinas, Ignatius of Antioch, and Clement of Alexandria. The collection also includes several important and timely pieces that show how theological interpretation leads to moral formation within diverse cultural groups including African American and Latinx communities.

Abstract

This chapter situates theological interpretation of Scripture in the context of the historical-critical method and spiritual formation. It begins by introducing the historical-critical method, elaborating its emergence, and then showing its inability to interpret the biblical text sufficiently on its own terms. The chapter then surveys the counter-response of theological interpretation of Scripture, revealing its promise and yet potential pitfalls. Thereafter, it briefly introduces spiritual formation and how it tangibly relates to TIS, showing specifically how TIS itself is spiritually formative. The chapter concludes by briefly summarizing the other chapters in this book.

In: Theological Interpretation of Scripture as Spiritual Formation

Abstract

This chapter proposes a consensus position on the nature of Scripture and the appropriate commensurate methodologies for its theological interpretation. It asserts that TIS requires a more specific consensual catholic scriptural and interpretive benchmark than currently exists across the movement—a regula catholica (catholic rule) and a regula interpretatio (interpretation rule)—in order to be properly ecclesially-calibrated and in order to generate a biblically-faithful, spiritually-formative theological interpretation of Scripture. A four-fold framework is articulated that organizes common approaches to theological interpretation into a tangible, replicable cluster of interpretive techniques that serve the purpose of spiritually-formative scriptural analysis and exegesis. A critical engagement of the views of key TIS proponents is offered that argues for a scriptural ontology that is characterized by textual determinacy and textual integrity within the breadth of the catholic tradition across the ages. Lastly, building on the work of John Webster, a theological rationale is offered that demonstrates how the various aspects of a regula interpretatio are themselves instrumental for spiritual formation rather than functioning as merely human tools for the grammatical, historical, and literary analysis of the biblical text.

In: Theological Interpretation of Scripture as Spiritual Formation