Published during: March 2013

No Trinity, No Dice

The following paper was prepared for Dr. Steven McKinion’s Hermeneutics class, with the constraint that it be between 600 and 625 words.1

John 5

The meaning of the text

Everything Jesus did emphasized that he was one with the Father. John demonstrates this in three distinct arcs throughout the chapter. First, to the Jews’ criticism of his healing on the Sabbath, Jesus simply answered, "My Father is working until now, and I am working" (verse 17). Second, Jesus elaborates on the claim established at the end of the first section (vv. 19–31). He draws this out so far as to emphasize that attributes that only belong to God are his as well: the power to raise the dead and the authority to judge them. Third, Jesus claims the Father’s validation of his ministry through both miracles and Scripture (vv. 32–47). Read on, intrepid explorer →

In Your Face, Satan!

The following paper was prepared for Dr. Steven McKinion’s Hermeneutics class, with the constraint that it be between 600 and 625 words.

Matthew 4:1–11

The Meaning of the Text

Jesus faced trials no less profound—indeed, many of them more profound—than any that we encounter, and he overcame them all. Beyond the ordinary trials of a life in ministry, he resisted temptations specific to his position as the God-man and new representative head of humanity. In the selfsame ways that Adam and Israel had failed when tempted, Jesus triumphed. The tempter who seduced Adam and Eve; who caused David, King of Israel, to stumble and bring ruin on God’s people; and who so often and skillfully led Israel after other gods could not turn Jesus from his divine mission. Jesus is indeed the Son of God. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Wicked Prophet, Righteous Heathens

The following paper was prepared for Dr. Steven McKinion’s Hermeneutics class, with the constraint that it be between 600 and 625 words.

Jonah 4

The meaning of the text

Jonah spends the chapter in self-inflicted misery: he hates that Yahweh relented from the promised disaster against Nineveh. He never repents; even after Yahweh provides him an illustration with a pitiable plant, Jonah holds onto his anger rather than praise God for his goodness. This refusal is all the more striking in light of Jonah’s clear knowledge of the character of Yahweh—knowledge that seems to have driven all his actions throughout the book, as he explains in verse 2: he knew that God would forgive and relent, and wanted no part of it.

Righteousness is not a matter of being an Israelite or even a prophet, but in repenting and obeying Yahweh. Read on, intrepid explorer →

In light of the Christian confession of God as creator, redeemer, and sanctifier, we may say that God is the one who communicates himself—Father, Son, and Spirit—to others. God’s self-communicative activity results in creation, Christ, and church. The triune God is communicative agent (Father/author), action (Word/text), and result (Spirit/power of reception). I propose that we take God’s trinitarian self-communication as the paradigm of what is involved in all true communication.

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?

Nine Pointers on Being a Seminary Student at a Great Commission Seminary

The following notes were taken during Dr. Brush Ashford’s chapel lecture on March 5, 2013 — a lecture which served as something of a statement of vision for Dr. Ashford’s tenure as Provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I found the remarks challenging and insightful, and believe they should be broadly helpful to seminarians and collegians at a variety of institutions (even those that are liberal or secular), and many of them to the general public. Enjoy!

  1. Treat Scripture as the primary source and the supreme norm of all your studies. (2 Timothy 3:16–17) Read on, intrepid explorer →

Understanding for postmoderns is always contextual, never universal. Postmodernity does not mean the end of all authority, however, only of universal norms; local norms remain in force. Interpretation is always “from below,” shaped by the reader’s contextually conditioned context and regulated by the authority of community-based norms. Hence, if interpretation is indeed a form of power reading, it remains to be seen whose power it is and whether its force is liberating. For while truth has been described as a force that sets one free (John 8:32), postmoderns see truth as a rhetorical device used by the strong to justify their power over the weak. This leads us to a crucial problem for the postmodern critic: To what do we appeal when the context rather than the text is the oppressor? …

If the community’s interest and experience—the present context—provide the framework for interpreting Scripture, what happens when the framework itself is corrupt? To assign priority to the reader’s context and interest is to immunize one’s interpretive community from the very possibility of criticism by the text. Reading the text on these terms is like projecting one’s image onto the mirror of the text, a hermeneutic strategy that sentences the interpretive community to stare at its own reflection. Such a narcissistic hermeneutics stands little chance of expanding one’s self-knowledge, or for that matter, of achieving genuine liberation.

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?