Opintojakson suoritettuaan opiskelija
- tuntee Vanhan testamentin erilaisten teologioiden keskeiset piirteet ja pystyy sijoittamaan Vanhan testamentin uskonnon historialliseen ja ideologiseen kontekstiinsa.
- kykenee arvioimaan tutkimuskirjallisuudessa esitettyjä teorioita Israelin uskonnon ja Vanhan testamentin teologian luonteesta ja kehityksestä.
Hermeneutics is about ‘responsible interpretation of texts’ (cf. Holgate and Starr 2006, 1); therefore (biblical) hermeneutics critically explores ‘how we read, understand, apply, and respond’ to (biblical) texts and investigates which conditions and criteria (rules) serve ‘responsible, valid, fruitful, or appropriate interpretation’ (cf. Thiselton 2009, 1-5).
Hermeneutics in general provides academic guidelines for finding and creating meaning. Christian theology in its interpretative nature adds its parameters to the hermeneutical enterprise. Therefore, the aim of this course is to study biblical hermeneutics from an academic point of view with an awareness of the students’ personal frameworks of reference and mutual respect within a learning community.
This course will address hermeneutics – and, because of its context in Christian theology, biblical hermeneutics in particular – through key concepts such as communication and rereading. The general topics of ‘land’ and ‘body’ will guide some practical examples working from the interpretation of certain texts towards specific applications with congregations or society in view. Suggestions for other topics are welcome.
Biblical hermeneutics is not simply about interpretation of the Bible but about theological inter-disciplinarity. It engages the questions of (1) ‘why?’ and (2) ‘how?’ in relation to the Bible as ‘sacred Scripture’.
(1a) Why is the Bible essential for doing Christian theology? This question picks up on discussions about canon in Biblical studies, church history (canon formation), and systematic theology (doctrine of Scripture and pneumatology). (1b) What is the aim of reading the Bible? Usually, ethics is based on certain readings of the Bible, and as such it guides decisions in society and personal life. The teaching of the church (dogmatics) and preaching take their starting point in the Bible, as does the church’s rites and organization as well as its voice in society. This brings in issues from practical theology as well.
(2) ‘How to read the Bible?’ also involves a vast array of theories from non-theological disciplines and fields, such as philosophy of language, cultural anthropology, logic and rhetoric, as well as biblical studies proper, with its questions about methods of biblical interpretation and biblical theology, within in Christian perspective in particular biblical theology including both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.
My approach to teaching and learning can be summarized as a ‘learning community’. A discipline that fosters mutual understanding and collaborative thinking seems to be the perfect occasion for learning together. As a teacher I will introduce hermeneutics and related topics for discussion and critical reflection in class. Nevertheless, one compulsory article will have been sent to you as preparatory reading (see also Moodle and the link below).
Next to a general reflection in class, specific examples will be selected, while giving account to the variety of interests of the students (so, your suggestions are welcome). In the student-prepared presentations elaboration of the general subject and additional topics will get their due.
David Holgate and Rachel Starr, Biblical Hermeneutics, SCM Studyguide (London: SCM, 2006)
Anthony C. Thiselton, Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009),
For the ‘learning community’ it is important to participate in the classes; therefore, attendance is expected and class participation contributes to the final grade. The course is built in two equal parts.
Part I. As the aim of this course is to engage – as a learning community – the many rich facets of biblical hermeneutics and their interrelationships with various theological disciplines input from the students is important. For completion of the course the students need to attend the classes; active participation is expected (A). The first four classes provide a basis in hermeneutics, then several weeks without class follow in which the students prepare presentations (ca. 20 minutes) on topics chosen in mutual agreement with the teacher who can be consulted after class or reached by email for the final two classes that have a more practical focus; papers will be discussed in class. Third, the students write a final reflection (like a learning diary entry, written in reference to the objectives for this course) with regard to the complete course (C). A counts for 12,5%, B for 25%, and C for 12,5%.
Part II. Because hermeneutics forms an integration point of the theological disciplines the first part of the course (in English) has been complemented with a 2,5-credit paper assignment (or doing literature study in some other form) in the following disciplines: Biblical Studies (Theologies of the Old Testament, reception history, New Testament), Systematic Theology, or Practical Theology (esp. with regard to liturgy or homiletics). Because the focus of this course is mainly on the so-called ‘West’, the literature study is also possible in global Christianity focusing on ‘non-western’ Bible readings. This paper can possibly also be written in Finnish with one of the teachers/ coordinators in charge of the modules outside of the field of biblical studies. The paper (D) counts for 50%. NOTE: it would be good to integrate your work for the presentation and the paper (possibly also discuss with your respective teachers, whether you can use this course under another code than the ones suggested here for biblical studies).