Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Greek and other churchy stuff

I am enjoying my Greek classes. I suspect that one thing that appeals to me is the fact that a Greek translation is either right or wrong and so Greek is a bit like Maths in that way - as opposed to Biblical Studies where 'right' and 'wrong' are defined by the interpretation that the lecturer chooses to use. We also have a really good lecturer - Pat Bruce. She keeps going, we don't get sidetracked and she explains everything clearly and confidently. I am so lucky, blessed, whatever!
I started today with 'double Greek', including a test. I then dashed off to Brentwood where we took Communion around the township of Mphophomeni - which is about 5km from Brentwood. I had to rush back to UKZN where I was late for a Greek SI (which means Supplementary Instruction, although it seems to be compulsory). Then to the new seminary campus where the computer guys have managed to sort out enough that I can upload photos onto the web page again. After that, time away from the seminary while I did the family's weekly grocery shopping and then rush back for 'Community Worship' at one of the residences.
I can't complain - it was a useful day. God is gracious.


Adrian said...

"as opposed to Biblical Studies where 'right' and 'wrong' are defined by the interpretation that the lecturer chooses to use."

Jenny, I really enjoy reading your blog but don't get me started. Biblical Studies is neither preaching nor systematic theology, and if the lecturer moves in either of those directions she can be wrong.

Bib Studies is about determining the original meaning and understanding of the text (or conversation) between the 'author' and 'audience'. It (absolutely) has to be socio-political, and it has to take cogniscance of form, structure and genre. If it ignores these things or handles them badly it is as wrong as physics that ignores the laws of thermodynamics. (Which is not to say that 'it won't preach' or contain some truth or value, but it won't be the fruits of biblical studies.)

OK you got me started...

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Not sure I quite understand Adrian. The pastoral vs. social debate is an old one. Adrian would seem to be coming only from one side.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Adrian - please do get started - that's what makes blog conversation interesting!
Two observations I would like to make: your idea of the absolute nature of Biblical Studies may well be right, but in the academic world there are many apporaches to reading and understanding the Bible. I disagree with many of them, but they are taught (because other people like them!)
The other observation is that I'm not sure that we can ever fully know (in this life) what the original meaning and context of the Bible are. I agree with you that determining that is immensely important in understanding the Bible, but if we rely on full knowledge will we ever be able to understand?
Thanks for your comment - I'd like to hear more!

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

I remember in seminary, a student puzzling over the question: "So God wrote every word. But I'm the one doing the interpreting!"

Adrian said...

Thomas, I think the idea of 'pastoral vs social' is a misleading dichotomy.
Much of what passes as 'pastoral' is the overlaying of systematic theology, ambition, greed and self-centredness onto the text. Often this arises from our very modern,
Platonic, individualistic and wealthy points of view.

It is difficult to receive change which will bring healing to the world, but cost us power and wealth, as good news, but often it is.
(The UK will spend 600 0000 000 Pounds on 'buying' security at the Olympics for themselves, but will baulk at using a similar amount of 'their' money to make a difference in the issues that give rise to the security threats. South Africans who will think nothing of spending a small fortune on home security, will do nothing for poverty alleviation).

When we all live together well, we will all live well.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

There is the big question then: What is the value that binds human aims and collective life? Or to put it in another way: What is it that underlies both pastoral care and social justice? Or reading your comment, perhaps: What is it that erases the distinction? How would it be defined?

My intuition may be working overtime, but is this the Adrian who introduced his MTh with an emphasis on both the personal and the social?

Adrian said...

The conversation has to start with a definition of 'pastoral', (somehow I editted that out of my previous post). If you're willing to tackle that I'll put the effort into answering the other question(s).

I don't think we have ever met, but would be flattered if you had read my thesis. It doesn't quite fit the description though, but neither is it a long way off. It was entitled "The Holy Spirit and Development".

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

OK, I think I know “where we’re at”. One is drawn into and formed by the narrative. There is no privatised eschatology. (?)

By pastoral care I mean what used to be called spiritual care, incorporating shall we say spiritual ministry both to the unredeemed and the redeemed. It is a vast area, incorporating evangelism, preaching, counselling, admonition, and so on.

There are two extremes here. There are those who say that eternal salvation is inseparable from the struggle to build a just society – and there are those who say that it is not possible to relate the gospel to the social order.

I happen to be working on a paper at the moment in which I seek a conceptual reconciliation of the two. This implies of course that I accept pastoral care as a valid ministry. And that is my core interest in this matter – on what basis to reconcile the two.