I teach and research on Bible and Mission at Redcliffe College and lead the 'Bible and Mission' and 'Scripture Engagement' streams of our MA in Contemporary Missiology. I am the Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission, and also lead Redcliffe's 'Fostering, Adoption and the Church' research project, .
The latest issue of the Tyndale Bulletin (65.2 2014) includes a article looking at the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets: ”My Name Will Be Great Among the Nations’: The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve’ (pp.161-180) by Jerry Hwang at Singapore Bible College. Here’s the abstract (you will need a subscription to the journal to read the whole article):
Recent OT scholarship has increasingly recognised that the Minor Prophets were compiled by Hebrew scribes to be read as a cohesive anthology. While acknowledging that each book of the Minor Prophets exhibits a distinctive individuality, scholars continue to debate how to interpret the collection as a coherent whole. In this vein, I propose that the major themes of the Minor Prophets – land, kingship, the move from judgement to salvation, and the relationship of Israel to the nations – fine a unifying link in the missio Dei. The plan of God to redeem his entire creation is progressively unfolded in the Minor Prophets, in that the apostasy of God’s people in God’s land (Hosea; Joel) is but the first step in a history of redemption which culminates with the recognition by all nations that YHWH alone is worthy: ‘For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations’ (Mal. 1:11). As such, the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets not only provides a reading strategy for interpreting the collection as a unified Book of the Twelve; it also shows how the Minor Prophets make a unique contribution to an OT theology of mission.
The book of Job speaks a compelling word of honesty and hope into the deepest and most difficult of human experiences. Job’s story of suffering and the process he goes through with his comforters and with God is just as relevant for Christians and local churches today as we wrestle with our own questions and the questions of those around us.
Join us for this day workshop exploring the background, content, and contemporary vitality of the book of Job. Combining teaching sessions with opportunities for discussion, the day will be suitable for all those who would value an opportunity to dig deeper into the book of Job, exploring how Scripture nurtures Christian identity and mission in the world today.
The day will be led by Dr Tim Davy, Director of Research and Innovation at Redcliffe College in Gloucester. Having worked in student ministry in the UK and Russia, he has taught Biblical Studies and Mission at Redcliffe since 2004, and recently completed his PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job.
Things you need to know:
Date: Monday 26 January 2015, 10.30am-4.00pm (coffee from 10.00am) Venue: LICC, St Peter’s, Vere Street, London W1G 0DQ Cost: £18 – includes lunch and light refreshments throughout the day Booking: Book online. Alternatively you can email us or call us on 020 7399 9555
Over the last few years I have been working on a PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job at the University of Gloucestershire, under the supervision of Prof. Gordon McConville. Many more post on this topic to follow(!), but the key thing I want to pick out today is that asking how a text ‘fits into’ the big story of the Bible is only one (albeit important) way of probing the relationship between the text and that story.
Why is it that writing on the Old Testament and mission often ends up circling around texts that progress the chronological storyline or ‘plot’ of the Bible? It is easy to see how a text like Gen. 12:1-3 fits into and progresses the story of God’s purposes in the world because it is a key point in the chronological development of that story.
But what about those texts that do not progress the storyline, like Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs, etc? It seems to be that they require a different kind of question to unlock more fully their relationship with the grand narrative. Hence my original, if rather general and bland question, “How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”
In the case of Job, one of the ways it can be seen as relating to the grand narrative is not by fitting into it but standing apart from it. More on this at a later date. In the meantime, let me ask you a question: Which biblical texts do you think are neglected in mission thinking and practice, and why do you think they are?
“How does this text fit into the big story of God’s mission?”
The first question in our series on ‘100 questions for missional Bible reading’ (see series introduction post here) is perhaps the most basic and most commonly asked. The purpose of the missional interpretation of Scripture is to read biblical texts in the light of the missional nature of the Bible. I’ll be unpacking this statement repeatedly over the coming months but at its most basic level we need to read the Bible with the recognition that it is telling a story, or rather, THE story.
Writing about the OT Chris Wright has recently written the following which I think is a helpful way of unpacking the question, although as I will suggest in future posts, this quote at least also seems to assume something quite limiting as we consider the relationship between biblical texts and the big story of the Bible; i.e., that a text relates to the story by ‘fitting into it’. Nevertheless, it’s a very good starting point that provides a baseline for a lot of missional reflection on the Bible:
This is the great overarching framework of the biblical narrative, which renders to us the mission of God… a missional hermeneutic will work hard to read any text in the Old Testament canon within this overarching narrative framework, discerning its place within that framework, assessing how the shape of the grand narrative is reflected in the text in question, and conversely, how the particular text contributes to and moves forward the grand narrative itself. (Wright, ‘Mission and OT Interpretation’, in Bartholomew and Beldman’s Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), p. 184.)
This morning I was talking to a Luke-Acts class about the kind of questions we might ask that could help bring out the missional nature of the Bible. Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time thinking about this whole area and it seems to me that there are numerous questions one could ask.
So this morning I have set myself a challenge: over the coming months (years?) I will try to write a series of one hundred blog posts on such questions. I’d like to try and think of one hundred questions that we could ask of the text as we seek to read it missionally.
This is deliberately ambitious: partly to push myself to think creatively, and partly in an attempt to demonstrate that missional hermeneutics opens up all kinds of possibilities that can enrich personal Bible reading, the church, and scholarship.
There is an interesting article in a recent issue of the Tyndale Bulletin by Nicholas Lunn looking at whether the rescue of the Canaanite Rahab in the book of Joshua might be understood as a kind of ‘Gentile Exodus’. In ‘The Deliverance of Rahab (Joshua 2, 6) as the Gentile Exodus’ (Tyndale Bulletin 65.1 (2014), 11-19) Lunn observes a number of intertextual connections between the Rahab story and the Exodus story (particularly in Exodus 12-15), which he thinks suggest an intentional association of the two passages.
I won’t go into the details of these links but one of his concluding statements is worth noting here:
When the latter [the Rahab story] is read in association with the earlier deliverance account it becomes apparent that the rescue of Rahab and her family is being presented as another exodus. It may be considerably smaller in scale in comparison, yet it was an exodus, or a ‘bringing out’, nevertheless. Yet this was patently a wholly Gentile exodus. In keeping with the promise made to the Hebrew forefathers, that not just they themselves would possess the land, but that blessing would also come to those of other nations (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14), now a Gentile family received a blessing through Israel. In sparing the Canaanite family the Hebrews were in fact extending to Gentiles the [hesed], the special covenant love, that they themselves enjoyed. Accordingly, as far as Rahab is concerned, the narrative ends with the statement that ‘she lives in the midst of Israel to this day’ (Josh. 6:25). She and those with her had, so to speak, become ‘grafted in’ to Israel.
For me this is interesting as it connects the Rahab story with what has gone before and in an integrated way, whereas I have usually seen her story discussed as a type of what is to come (cf. the scarlet chord) or as an example (perhaps fairly isolated) of God dealing with non-Israelites in the OT.
Questions remain, of course. The deliverance of Rahab is a rescue from the destruction of Jericho by the Israelites as part of their entry into the land. I think a fuller treatment would need to address her story in the context of this difficult area of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Lunn’s article is a very welcome contribution to the place of Rahab’s story in a missional reading of Scripture.
What do you think of Lunn’s suggestions? How else might we approach Rahab’s story missionally?
IFES have been developing its Scripture Engagement activities and resources through a blog. You can visit the site here: IFES Scripture Engagement. Here is the ‘About’ description:
Welcome to a vast topic which none of us will ever finish exploring. Scripture engagement is about all of life. It is listening and responding to God’s Word alone and together with others. It is digesting and living out the Word in every relationship and circumstance. It is unashamedly and competently sharing God’s good news in our world. Above all, Scripture engagement is meeting the Living Word in the written word – meeting Jesus and receiving his life.
This blog does not presume to address all aspects of this topic. It does not try and capture everything that is happening in IFES. Its aim is to help you stop and think again about Scripture engagement in your life and community. Its aim is to inspire you through IFES stories and ideas from around the world. In the hope that together we will learn to more fully love, study, live, and share God’s Word.
This morning, as part of a class on Bible Engagement in Intercultural Contexts, we are thinking about approaches and issues in using the visual arts to communicate the Bible and faith. To help with this theme we invited the brilliant, Gloucester-based artist, Paul Hobbs, to share about his work.
Paul describes himself as making, ‘both celebratory abstract paintings, and painting and sculpture that consider contemporary social issues in the light of biblical values.’
The 2013 title, Bible in Mission (edited by Pauline Hoggarth, Fergus Macdonald, Bill Mitchell and Knud Jørgensen) has been made freely available by the wonderful people at OCMS through their imprint, Regnum Books. Here is a link to the pdf download of Bible in Mission
Here is an excerpt from the forward from the publisher’s website, as well as the contents:
“The Bible is alive – it has hands and grabs hold of me, it has feet and runs after me”. Thus spoke Martin Luther, as cited by Knud Jørgensen in a quotation that summarizes the deeper meaning of this book. To the authors of Bible in Mission, the Bible is the book of life, and mission is life in the Word. This core reality cuts across the diversity of contexts and hermeneutical strategies represented in these essays. The authors are committed to the boundary-crossings that characterize contemporary mission – and each sees the Bible as foundational to the missio Dei, to God’s work in the world.
From the Foreword by Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, Boston University School of Theology
Editorial Introduction: The Bible in Mission 1
The Bible in Mission – and the Surprising Ways of God – Ole Christian Kvarme 5
The Bible as Text for Mission – Tim Carriker 29
SECTION 1: THE BIBLE IN MISSION IN THE WORLD AND IN THE CHURCH
The Bible in Mission: The Modern/Postmodern Western Context – Richard Bauckham 43
The Bible in Mission in the Islamic Context – Kenneth Thomas 56
The Bible in Christian Mission among the Hindus – Lalsangkima Pachuau 68
Children, Mission and the Bible: A Global Perspective – Wendy Strachan 81
The Bible in Mission: Evangelical/Pentecostal View – Antonia Leonora van der Meer 93
Bible Hermeneutics in Mission – A Western Protestant Perspective – Michael Kisskalt 106
Orthodox Perspectives on Bible and Mission – Simon Crisp 119
‘Ignorantia Scripturae ignorantia Christi est’ – Thomas P. Osborne 131
SECTION 2: CASE STUDIES
Baka Bible Translation and Oral Biblical Narrative Performance – Dan Fitzgerald 141
The UBS HIV Good Samaritan Program – David Hammond and Immanuel Kofi Agamah 151
The Bible and the Poor – Gerald West 159
The Bible and Care of Creation – Allison Howell 168
Asia – Pacific
‘Text of Life’ and ‘Text for Life’: The Bible as the Living and Life-Giving Word of God for the Dalits – Peniel J. Rufus Rajkumar 178
Bible Missions in China – Pamela Wan-Yen Choo 185
The Impact and Role of the Bible in Big Flowery Miao Community – Suee Yan Yu 193
Bible Engagement among Australian Young People – Philip Hughes 200
The Bible and Children in Mission – Edesio Sánchez Cetina 208
Bible Translation, the Quechua People and Protestant Church Growth in the Andes 216 – Bill Mitchell
The Bible in Mission: Women Facing the Word 224 – Elsa Támez
Biblical Advocacy – Advocating for the Bible in an Alien Culture – David Spriggs and Sue Coyne 230 Contents vii
Scripture Engagement and Living Life as a Message – Steve Bird 238
Reading the Bible with Today’s Jephthahs: Scripture and Mission at Tierra Nueva – Bob Ekblad 247
Lessons Learned from the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey – Nancy Scammacca Lewis 255
Glazed Eyes and Disbelief – Adrian Blenkinsop and Naomi Swindon 264
Information Management and Delivery of the Bible – Paul Soukup 273
The Bible as the Core of Mission: ‘…for the Bible tells me so’ – Knud Jørgensen 283