Back in In June I gave a paper on ‘The Bible and Mission Beyond Bosch’ at the Global Connections Mission Educators Forum in the UK. The gathering was using the 25th anniversary of the publication of David Bosch’s landmark Transforming Mission to offer a critical appreciation of that book. My talk, which I’ll write up some time, had three headings: ‘What Bosch did’ (a review of his treatment of biblical texts); ‘What Bosch didn’t do’ (some of his omissions and neglected areas); and ‘What Bosch couldn’t do’ (i.e., engage with the missional hermeneutics conversation that has developed since his tragic and untimely death in 1992).

One of my key points was to raise and reflect upon the well-documented relative neglect of women and global south scholars in Bosch’s bibliography (see, for example, Nussbaum’s readers guide to TM, p. 143). I then revisited the growing literature on missional hermeneutics through the lens of this concern over diversity. This was something I felt in a good position to do as I had recently collaborated with Mike Goheen on an extensive missional hermeneutics bibliography. We aimed to document all publications that have consciously adopted the missional hermeneutics approach, and this can now be found in the new Eerdmans volume, Reading the Bible Missionally. The publisher also kindly agreed that we could host an online version on this site so that we can keep it up to date. See the Missional Hermeneutics Bibliography tab in the main menu.

If you look through the bibliography you will soon be struck by something: the majority of scholars who have published on missional hermeneutics are Western men, including almost all the book-length treatments. Compiling such a resource isn’t an exact science, of course, but it is worth noting that this bibliography emerged from a process of actively seeking out any references to missional hermeneutics or missional readings, rather than just going for familiar scholars. Because of this we’ve been able to highlight a number of articles that perhaps have not been widely known about, and in so doing can point towards a greater diversity of scholars working in the area, including:

Barton, Mukti. “A Missional Reading of Susanna and the Woman Accused of Adultery.” Rethinking Mission (July 2012). Available at pdfs/barton_july_12.pdf.

Bekele, Girma. “The Biblical Narrative of the Missio Dei: Analysis of the Interpretive Framework of David Bosch’s Missional Hermeneutic.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 35.3 (2011): 153–58.

Choi, Hunn. “Multicultural Hermeneutics and Mission.” Asbury Journal 70.1 (2015): 111–39.

Jabini, Frank S. “Witness to the End of the World: A Missional Reading of Acts 8:26–40.” Conspectus 13.1 (2012).

Lee, Kyuboem. “An Urban Missional Reading of Genesis 1.” New Urban World Journal 3.1 (2014): 59–66.

Magda, Ksenija. “A Missional Reading of Rom 15:1–12.” Evangelical Journal of Theology 2.1 (2008): 39–52.

Okure, Teresa. “‘In Him All Things Hold Together’: A Missiological Reading of Colossians 1:15–20.” International Review of Mission 91 (2002): 62–72.

My main point can be summed up like this:

although it is true that the mainstream, ‘published’ missional hermeneutics conversation has been a very Western and male one so far, I believe things will look very different in the future. Assuming the momentum of interest in the approach continues (and there is every reason for thinking it will), over the next decade we will see a much greater diversity of voices coming into and shaping the conversation.

A key factor will be the emergence of a new generation of students from around the world graduating from MA, MTh and PhD programmes with missional hermeneutics as a core component. They will bring new contexts, new questions, and new ideas to the table, and I for one can’t wait.

I hope to be able to bring some exciting news in the near future about one of the ways this will be encouraged, so watch this space!

There is so much more that could, and should, be said on this subject so expect further posts in the future. In the meantime, if you are aware of gaps in the bibliography please do drop me a line.

One thought on “Missional hermeneutics and the question of diversity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s