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Here's What's Next for Hermeneutics Huesdays!
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It was the summer of 2021. My family was vacationing in Daytona Beach Shores. I was walking to the beach just before sunrise and scrolling through The Bible Project podcast archives for a series to keep me company for the several hours I planned to spend that week attempting to diminish the effects of all the vacationing eating by run/walking along the Atlantic shoreline.
My eyes landed on the word “cosmology” which, at first, my brain registered as “cosmetology.” Did I mention it was 6:30 in the morning? Once I rid the thoughts of Tim Mackie and Jon Collins discussing the finer points of hair and make-up from my groggy headspace, I narrowed in on the series description: “In this series Tim and Jon explore cosmology in the Hebrew Bible, alongside other origin stories of the ancient world.” My brain still wasn’t quite tracking, but I hit play on the first episode. (You can access the series for yourself here.)
For the rest of vacation, I devoured that series. As I look back on the various events in my life that have led me to rethink some of my deeply ingrained assumptions about the Bible, those morning walk/runs on Daytona Beach are hands down among the most formative. That series began to expose the rigid literalism of my inherited faith tradition (particularly as it relates to the first couple chapters of the Bible) and introduced me to the profound importance of taking the historical and social context of the original authors and audience very seriously. It was also the means by which I was introduced to John Walton whose scholarship and writing has since become one of my most faithful companions in this journey of re-learning how to discern what’s truly “biblical.”
I was downright giddy when I heard that he just released a new book that is essentially a collection of his most impactful one-liners and catchy phrases accumulated over forty plus years of teaching. Things like, “The Bible was written for us but not to us,” “A text cannot mean what it never meant,” and “The seventh day is the most important of the creation days.” It’s called Wisdom for Faithful Reading: Principles and Practices for Old Testament Interpretation (linked in case you want to order a copy). If I could sit down with John and say, “Okay, tell me everything I need to know to interpret the Bible well,” this book would be his answer.
I could read it all by myself, but I think it would be way more fun to read it with you! So, it’s going to be the focus of the Hermeneutics Huesday segments for the next few months. If you don’t have time to read a book right now, no worries. This is not a book club. I can do all the reading and you can just follow along right here. In fact, I’m going to assume everyone listening has not read the book. Buuuut, if you want to read it with me, go ahead and get your copy. I’ll cover the first 10 or so pages next week.
If you decide to Google “John Walton” be prepared for a strong gust of internet angst. Fundamentalist and fundamentalist-adjacent types would rather he not exist, which I’m increasingly convinced is among his best qualities. 😉 What you’ll also find, once you get past all the haters, is his love for Jesus and his high view of the Bible and its power in our lives. In the preface of his new book he writes this:
“I am committed to the idea that our reading of Scripture cannot stop with understanding the author’s intentions, though it does need to start there. Interpretation alone can become sterile or pedantic. The power of Scripture is not just in the fact that it was given; it is in the reality of being lived. God has given us revelation of how he has been working out his plans and purposes in the world and invited us to become full-fledged, committed participants working alongside him for his honor and glory. We were created for this!”
To that I say a hearty “AMEN!” This is going to be a good one y’all. See you next time!
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