Fools for the sake of Christ - Michael Barram articleMichael Barram is an important figure in the field of missional hermeneutics. While his work relies on a missio Dei lens he often takes his readings in new directions. In particular I appreciate the ways in which he roots his missional reflections in the ‘locatedness’ of contemporary contexts. It’s not always comfortable reading, but always valuable.

A recent article by Barram focuses on Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church. You will need access to the journal, or an ATLA subscription, to read it but it is another important contribution to the developing missional conversation. Here is the abstract:

Paul’s rhetoric in the Corinthian correspondence suggests that at least some of the Corinthians understood wisdom, power, freedom, and knowledge as being at the heart of Christian identity and practice in the world. Paul counters each of those terms hermeneutically, missionally—underscoring the import of foolishness, weakness, slavery, and love—with respect to his mission in the world and their own. Love, as explicated by Paul, helps to clarify why foolishness, weakness, and slavery trump wisdom, power, freedom, and knowledge. Apart from love, focusing on wisdom, power, freedom, or knowledge can become self-referential. Only in love can those characteristics move beyond themselves for the good—the building up—of others. Paul’s corrective metaphors for missional hermeneutics and praxis—foolishness, weakness, slavery, and love—represent concrete and counter-intuitive ways in which the missio Dei has been and must be manifested. In the process of exploring these issues, the article offers extended reflections on the implications of Paul’s hermeneutical reasoning for contemporary mission today.

Barram, Michael. “‘Fools for the Sake of Christ’: Missional Hermeneutics and Praxis in the Corinthian Correspondence.” Missiology 43.2 (2015): 195–207

If you want to find more of Barram’s writing on missional hermeneutics have a look at the missional hermeneutics bibliography.


Want to take this further? Come and study more about the Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology, including the modules ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ and ‘Scripture Engagement: Approaches and Issues’.

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