Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Daniel Doriani on knowing the context

We are often reminded we must consider the context when reading Scripture. When thinking of locating a verse, passage, or book in its context, I often only consider its historical context. That is, what impact does the "culture, economy, geography, climate, agriculture, architecture, family life, morals, and social structure of the Bible's actors, authors, and readers" (13) have on the section under consideration. But Daniel Doriani, in his essay contribution to Understanding Scripture (Grudem, Wayne A., C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print.) , emphasizes on oft overlooked aspect of considering context.

It is a truism that one must read the Bible in context, but the truism hides a distinction. "Context" can refer to the historical or the literary context. The literary context includes the words, sentences, and paragraphs preceding and following a passage. The literary context locates a passage within the larger purposes of a book. Readers should ask why a particular passage is here and not elsewhere., how it builds upon prior passages, and how it prepares for the next. (13)

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