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Recommended Methodology for Learning Experiences:

As a way to assist you in getting the most out of the learning experiences below, I suggest you do the following:

1) Read the required textbook reading.Make a sincere effort at understanding the material - with particular attention to material that relates to the questions.

2) Read through the questions in the assignment.

3) Check my website, (under the appropriate class title) for any hints in regard to the questions."Hints" refers to the notations I sometimes include that, in a sentence or two, give you the gist of the article and or the point of the question(s) I have asked you to read in conjunction with the required texts.If you do not have internet access, let me know right away so I can provide a hard copy of any hints.

Assignment 1 – Read KS chs. 1-3 (under Part 1) and chs. 12-13 (under Part 4).Then read FS chs. 1-2.In 6-10 pages, answer the following questions:

1) In no more than 1-2 pages, why do we need to learn HOW to interpret the Bible?How do the authors argue in favor of "doing hermeneutics"?

2)In one paragraph, summarize the theoretical interpretational approaches of Kaiser's (KS ch.2) "Three Humpty Dumpty's".

3)in one paragraph, summarize the four models for understanding the Bible discussed by Kaiser (KS ch.2)

4)Summarize the various aspects of meaning in your own words (KS ch. 2, pp. 34-45)

5)Discuss a few of the ways that approaches to interpreting the Bible have changed over time (cf. KS Ch. 12)

6)After carefully considering KS ch. 13 and reviewing your answers to questions 2 through 4, tell me how the content of ch. 13 relates to issue of meaning.Specifically, briefly define for me what KS means by these phrases:"autonomy of the text" and "role of the reader."How do these new ideas relate to interpreting the Bible?Do you see any problems with using these ideas for understanding the Bible?

7)In KS ch. 3, Silva reviews several interpretational fallacies that show up all too often in preaching and Bible study materials (even scholarly works!).Summarize in your own words what the following problems are:

a)Minimizing the importance of biblical languages

b)Exaggerating the importance of biblical languages

c)Equating the meaning of a word with its history

d)Reading the various meanings of a word into a specific use

* with respect to c and d, WHAT DOES determine the meaning of a word?

e)Overemphasizing subtle points of grammar and vocabulary

8)Summarize the various theories of Bible translation in FS ch. 2.Which translation theory does your study Bible follow?

Assignment 2 – Studying the Bible in Context, Part 1:The Historical Context

As part of the hermeneutical process you will learn in the class, you must be able to determine the BROAD / GENERAL historical context of any given passage you want to study in depth (what was going on in the world at large when your text was written), as well as the IMMEDIATE historical context (what was going on that occasioned the writing of your specific text).You will need to make use of notes in Study Bibles, books on Bible history and archaeology, books on Bible backgrounds, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and books on Old or New Testament introduction and survey to do this (see the bibliography for some suggested works, but consult a library for many more).

In 4-7 pages, answer the following questions:

1)Determine the broad and immediate historical contexts for the book of Lamentations

2)Determine the broad and immediate historical contexts for the book of 2 Thessalonians

Assignment 3 - Studying the Bible in Context, Part 2:The "Literary Flow"

As part of the hermeneutical process you will learn in the class, you must be able to determine WHERE your particular text falls in the biblical book within which it is found, and WHY it was put there.More pointedly, where does your text fall in the overall flow of the book's content, and where does it fall in the immediate "thought unit" or paragraph (or what relationship does a whole paragraph – if you are studying a paragraph, as opposed to a single verse – have to the paragraph immediately preceding and following it?).You will find the outlines included in Study Bibles at the beginning of each biblical book useful for narrowing this down.You will need to observe how an author orders his material or how he builds an argument.Commentaries and the outlines in them are also very useful for this.

In 4-7 pages, place each of the following passages into the overall flow of the entire book in which it is found, and tell me how it relates to what immediately precedes and follows in that book.

Your passages for this assignment are:Isaiah 6 and Colossians 2

Assignment 4 - Studying the Bible in Context, Part 3:Literary Genres (i.e., "Types" or "Categories" of Literature):Narrative, Gospel, Parables, Laws, and Epistles

As part of the hermeneutical process you will learn in the class, you must be able to determine the genre of your text or passage (i.e., what kind of literature is it).As your textbook reading will show, you can't (or shouldn't) interpret poetry, narratives, prophecy, proverbs, etc. the same way.

Read the chapters as assigned below, answering the questions in a TOTAL of 6-10 pages (i.e., your responses to ALL the questions within this assignment should be no more than 10 pp.)

1)Read KS ch. 4 and FS chs. 5-6. 

a) What are some devices used by authors of biblical narrative to look for?What are some cautions to take when interpreting narratives?

b)What meaning, theologically and otherwise, can be gleaned from Genesis 17?What are the lessons of this chapter?

c)Summarize the debate over whether the book of Acts is just descriptive (it tells us what happened) or normative (it tells us what we must do in our churches today).Which do the authors think is the proper approach to Acts? Do you agree or disagree?How might a person with each perspective interpret Acts 2:46? 

2)Read KS ch. 6 and FS ch. 7-8.

a)Are the gospels to be taken as history or theology?

b)How are parables to be interpreted?What are some principles for their interpretation?

c)In relation to both of the above, read Luke 16:19-31.Using commentaries or whatever other aid you wish, is this a parable or not?Why or why not?Is it historical?Why or why not?Are there any doctrinal ideas to be drawn from this passage or not?What are they?

3)Read FS ch. 9

a)Explain howthe laws of Israel relate to Christians (we can’t say it's irrelevant – read Romans 7, esp. the end).

b)How would you interpret and apply Exodus 22:18?

4)read KS ch. 7,9-11 and FS chs. 3-4

a)Summarize how epistles are to be read historically and theologically according to your textbooks.Do they have any concerns about the latter?

b)How would one read Colossians 1:13 historically and theologically?

c)In light of the hermeneutical concerns in FS ch. 4 and KS ch. 10-11, how do you think Romans 14:21 should be interpreted and applied today (Paul specifically makes drinking wine an issue of Christian liberty in this passage; cp. The language of Romans 14 to I Cor. 8).I am looking for you to interact with your reading here, esp. in terms of comparability and culture.

Assignment 5 - Studying the Bible in Context, Part 4:Literary Genres (i.e., "Types" or "Categories" of Literature):Poetry, Wisdom, Prophets, and Prophecy

Read the chapters as assigned below, answering the questions in a TOTAL of 6-10 pages (i.e., your responses to ALL the questions within this assignment should be no more than 10 pp.)

1)Read KS ch. 5 and FS chs. 11-12; then read the information on Hebrew parallelism on the following website:

a)Summarize what Fee and Stuart say about imprecatory Psalms/prayers and their interpretation.How might they be applied by believers today?

b)Briefly define parallelism as it relates to Hebrew poetry.

c)What is a proverb?How can proverbs be abused and misunderstood when interpreting their use in the Bible?How should Proverbs 22:6 be interpreted?

d)What are the "ingredients" of wisdom literature?

e)Are Job and Ecclesiastes pessimistic?How should they be interpreted, generally speaking?

2)Read KS ch. 8 and FS ch. 10, 13

a)Summarize Fee and Stuart's idea of "covenant enforcement" as it pertains to the prophets.What do they mean by this and how does it relate to interpreting the Prophets?

b)Briefly explain the terms "unconditional prophecy," "conditional prophecy," and "sequential prophecy."

c)Compare the discussions of your authors on the "sensus plenior" issue (KS, pp. 156-158; FS, pp. 183-185).What is the issue at stake?What are the concerns?Do your texts agree or disagree?

d)Building on FS ch. 13, find a good scholarly commentary on the book of Revelation (see FS's appendix on commentaries or the bibliography at the end of the learning agreement) or an introduction to the New Testament.Read the material of introduction to the book in your commentary, looking especially for a discussion of various approaches to interpreting Revelation.Summarize three different approaches to interpreting this difficult New Testament book.

Assignment 6 – Studying the Bible in Fine Detail, Part 1:Words and Word Studies

For this assignment, you will do two "observation" studies of the words in a given text and two "word studies" to determine the meaning of a word in its context.Answer the questions in all of these studies in a TOTAL of 6-10 pages.

Observation Studies

1)Read I Thess. 4:16-5:11 VERY carefully.

a)To whom do the words "we" and "one another" refer in I Thess. 4:16-18?Are they believers or unbelievers?

b)Who is Paul addressing in the very next chapter when he mentions "you [brethren]" (plural)?Who, ten, are the "you (plural)" and "they" of I Thess. 5:1-11?Are they believers or unbelievers?

c)When the day of the Lord comes (5:2), which group will be surprised?Which group will not be surprised?To what do you think the "day of the Lord" refers to in this passage?

d)WHY will those who are not surprised not be surprised (cf. 5:2)

e)What theological conclusions do you draw from your observations?

2)Referring back to I Thess. 4:16-18, make a list of what will happen when the Lord descends.Take this list and go to Matthew 24.Read Matthew 24 VERY carefully.

a)Do you find any of the elements on your list in this chapter?All or some?(which ones?). 

b) According to Matthew 24, WHEN will these elements from your list occur – before or after what other events?

c)What theological conclusions do you draw from your observations?

Word Studies

Following the instructions and the example posted on my website (, do the following:

1)Do a word study on the Hebrew word bara' ()rb; "create") as it is used in the whole book of Genesis.Does the word always refer to "creation out of / using nothing"?Can the wordmean this in Genesis 1:1?Now look up Isa. 45:18 and find the Hebrew words behind God's creative activity in that verse.Look up these words (there are two) in the Hebrew dictionary you are using, and then find any occurrence of them in the whole book of Genesis.Do either of these words refer to "creation out of / using nothing"?If not, do the authors of Genesis and Isaiah have different theology?

2)Do word study on the term "unmarried" in I Cor. 7 (hint – this is the only place this word occurs in the New Testament – ALL occurrences are in this chapter!).Try and use the context to define what "unmarried can mean.Does I Cor. 7 allow for remarriage after divorce or not?(Just give me your opinion based on your study).

Assignment 7 - Studying the Bible in Fine Detail, Part 2:Greek and Hebrew Grammar

Go up to my website and check out the definitions / explanations to grammatical terms and concepts used in commentaries and study Bible notes.Taking this information, do the following in 4-7 pages:

1)Find the tense of the verbs "commit" and "sin" in I John 3:9.How should this verse be interpreted in terms of the grammar?

2)In Romans 6:1-13, examine the verbs “is crucified” and "might be destroyed" (6:6), and “is dead” and "is freed" (6:7).How do you interpret what Paul is saying in Romans 6:1-13 in light of your findings?This is admittedly a difficult (but terribly important) chapter for Christian theology – you may need to re-read the passage several times.Struggle with it and give me your findings.

Assignment 8 – Final Project – Pulling the Steps Together

Choose ONE passage from the list below and, in 6-10 pages, apply all the steps we have explored to its study.In other words, determine its broad and immediate historical context, its place in the literary flow of the book and its surrounding thought units, and its genre.Examine the text for significant words and pick some to do word studies.Find the tense of important verbs and interpret their use accordingly.When you have done the "grunt work", I want 1-3 paragraphs summarizing what you think the text means, how it informs us theologically, and how it can be lived out today.

Choose from the following (again, these are difficult texts – but ones pregnant with meaning):

Romans 5:1-21

Romans 8:28-39

Isaiah 1:1-20

Psalm 73