Religion Interpretation paper

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Interpretation Project Instructions

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Steps of Interpreting New Testament Letters

The purpose of Interpretation Project is to provide you with an opportunity to continue to practice and hone your skills of biblical interpretation. The focus of this project is the New Testament letters. After carefully reviewing chapters 17–33 in Everyday Bible Study and chapter 2 in The Essence of the New Testament, you will have a background to apply 3 steps of inductive Bible study to James 1:22–25. The project must consist of 820–1,020 words typed in Times New Roman 12 pt. font and double spaced. Begin the project with a brief, yet compelling introduction (100–120 words) that contains a precise thesis statement. Develop the project under the three major sub-headings per below (i.e. Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3). End the project with a strong conclusion (120–150 words) that effectively wraps up your interpretation and application of the biblical text under consideration. Your finished project will result in a nice Bible lesson or sermon.

In addition to a study Bible (e.g., NIV Study Bible, HCSB Study Bible, ESV Study Bible) consult, critically interact with, and document at least 3 exegetical commentaries on  James. You will find excellent sources through the online BIBL 110 – New Testament Survey Research Guide. Cite each of your sources using current APA, MLA, or Turabian style (whichever corresponds to your degree program). You may cite your sources parenthetically within the body of your project. List your sources at the end of the document as either Works Cited or Bibliography (whichever corresponds to your degree major style guide).

Interpretation Project must adequately address each of the following steps of inductive Bible study:

Step 1: Discover the original meaning. During the first step of inductive Bible study, you will use your observation skills to read the text carefully in order to discover what the text meant to the biblical audience. During this step, you will need to read about the cultural and historical background of the passage. For your purposes here, a good study Bible along with a Bible dictionary and exegetical commentary will give adequate background information on the text under consideration (James 1:22–25).

During Step 1, you will also identify the literary context of James 1:22–25. You will need to read James in its entirety at least once in one sitting as you commense this project. It is preferable to read the letter in one sitting because that is how the New Testament letters were intended to be read in their original life-situations. As you read through the letter, try to ignore the chapter and verse divisions and read it as a literary unit. Think in terms of topical paragraphs (instead of verse divisions) as you read the letter. In order to understand the immediate literary context of James 1:22–25, you will need to summarize the main point of the paragraph that precedes it (James 1:19–21), the paragraph that contains your text (James 1:22–25), and the paragraph that comes right after your passage (James 1:26–27). After this exercise, you will be able to state what your text meant to the first-century audience. Step one should consist of 250–300 words.

Step 2: Build a Bridge between Contexts. We are separated from the biblical audiences (whether Old Testament or New Testament) in time, culture, geography, language, situation, etc. These differences create a gap that prohibits us from making a direct move from the original context to the present-day. For instance, Jesus’ warning to beware the leaven of the Pharisees does not have a direct correlation to our present context. However, because Scripture is timeless it conveys a theological principle that transcends time and culture. While we do not confront Pharisees today, we confront legalism in various forms. Consequently, it is necessary to discover the significant differences between the present situation and that of the biblical audience. We need to delineate those differences and look for unique aspects of the biblical context. As you note the differences and unique aspects of the biblical audience, consider possible connections or similarities as well. You will write, in 175–225 words, a description of the uniques aspects of the original context and differences between the biblical audience and the current situation. You will also note similarities between the original context and today. This will help you discover the theological principle within the biblical text.

Therefore, in light of how your situation is different from that of the biblical audience, identify the theological principle or principles reflected in the text. The theological principle will rise naturally out of the biblical text. It will be part of the meaning of the text and not something you read back into the text. The theological prinicples will be timeless and universial, transcending time and culture. In order to decide whether you have truly discovered a theological principle, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this theological principle clearly derived from the biblical text?
  2. Is the principle timeless rather than tied to a specific situation?
  3. Is the principle bound to a specific culture?
  4. Is it consistent with the theological teaching of Scripture?
  5. Is it applicable to both the biblical audience and the contemporary audience?

If you can answer “yes” to these 5 questions, then you have found a theological principle. Write out the theological principle or principles in 1–2 sentences using present-tense verbs. The theological principle will come at the end of Step 2.

Step 3: Apply the Theological Principle. Now, it is time to apply the theological principle that has been derived from the biblical text to your present life-situation. While there may be only one theological principle in a biblical passage, several applications may be appropriate. Ask yourself how you should apply the theological principle or principles in your life today. For example, in relation to Jesus’ warning alluded to above the theological principle would be that followers of Christ must be able to discern between truth and error. This principle is derived from the biblical text, is consistent with the teaching of Scripture as a whole, and is applicable to both the first and the twnenty-first century. Once you have drawn the theological principle or principles from James 1:22–25, in 175–225 words, write out at least two real-life applications of each principle.

Following the methodology laid out in chapter 30 of Everyday Bible Study, answer the questions below in order to discern how you can live out the theological principle or principles that you have drawn from James 1:22–25.

  1. The Question of Duty: What Should I Do?
  2. The Question of Character: Who Should I Be?
  3. The Question of Goals: What Causes Should I Pursue?
  4. The Question of Discernment: How Can I Distinguish Truth from Error?

Select 1 question and answer for each of the 2 real-life applications. You do not have to include your answers to all 4 questions in this assignment.

It will be important to review chapters 17–33 in Everyday Bible Study and chapter 2 in The Essence of the New Testament in order to complete this assignment.

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