Monday, September 04, 2006

An Expositor's Quote

Expositor's Quote from the Australian Anglican pastorP.J.H. Adam:

We all know the saying `A text without a context is a pretext', whichpoints to the danger of trying to interpret words out of theircontext. However the task of understanding a text in context is morecomplex than many realize. To place a text in context we must identifyits >literary context <>theological context<>historical context<>context in OT or NT theology<, its >contextin God's progressive revelation<>context in biblical theology<. In sum, context mustbe theological as well as literary, and context must include the wholebiblical revelation, as well as the book in which the text occurs. . . .

When God chose to reveal his saving will in the Bible, he did not use a systematic theology, a dictionary of useful texts, or an anthologyof current debates. He used progressive revelation in word andexplained deed, at intervals during the history of his chosen people.The OT declares God's promise, the NT relates its fulfilment.Salvation in Christ was first revealed in shadow, and then insubstance (Col. 2:16-17). In preaching Scripture we are not dealingwith timeless truths but with coherent, progressive, historical andtheological revelation.

The study of biblical theology will help the preacher to preach fromthe text in the context in which it was placed by God. There is greatneed for such preaching today, when so many think that the OT providesnothing more than background to the NT, that it is just a part of itssocial and cultural context. On the contrary, the OT is the essentialbasis of the complete biblical revelation, and we cannot understandthe NT without it. There can be no local cultural substitute for theOT, and those who read the NT without the OT are sure to misread it.

P.J.H. Adam, "Preaching and Biblical Theology," in New Dictionary ofBiblical Theology (Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), p. 107.

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