Methodology for Studying the Gospel/Bible

Dagood raised a good question to me – concerning my biblical interpretation method. To be honest, I have been working on this for some time – a year maybe 2. I never answered his question before – and he has asked me a few times during the years – I just had nothing to go forward with (nothing set in stone more or less). I am officially going forward with this methodology (which I have been using the whole time – just haven’t pieced it together until now).

I will explain my biblical model for interpretation in a nutshell.

(a) I use one book/writing as the core standard – then move forward from that standard –comparing back to the original in interpretation.

(b) That book is Matthew – and the moral pattern is laid out very early on and easy to follow

     a. “Follow Me’ – is the core theme – mentorship ideal – student to teacher (starts in Mat 4:19)

     b. ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand ‘ (Matt 4:17) – is the gospel – we need to take responsibility and enact ideals in the ‘here and now’ keeping with this allegiance to said ‘kingdom/rulership’

     c. Those ideals pop up in Matthew 5:2-11 – the beatitudes serve as an index to the core teachings that will be broken down in the following chapters – they serve as an outline

     d. Matt 7:24-29 is the pattern explained quite well – we are building a house on a sure foundation – that foundation can be found at your fingertips (the teachings)

     e. The most important teachings of that foundation are made clear by Jesus himself:

          i. Matt 7:12 – “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

          ii. Matt 22:37-40 – “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.”The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

What model do you use or what problems do you have with this model?

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5 thoughts on “Methodology for Studying the Gospel/Bible

  1. I still use a modernist approach best outlined in Steve Moyise “INtroduction to Biblical Studies” 2nd edition.

    basic outline: interpretation, textual,structure, form, literary, and ideological criticisms.

  2. “Does everybody have to use Matthew?” (Dagoods)

    No, there are a variety of other ways to use the NT for interpretation – one could lean on Paul’s works for example – and build a methodology from there. One could use John – and maybe even his letters – to build from. Way I see it, those books and letters could even be used alomst individually since that’ likely their original usage when they were written (prior to compilation in 400 AD).

    Matthew is my personal choice – the book I get the best structured viewpoint from…plus I like the set-up.

  3. Thanks.

    I was looking more for an interpretive method we could all use. While I appreciate knowing your particular method–on a global sense, does it boil down to “whatever each person wants to use”?

  4. was looking more for an interpretive method we could all use…does it boil down to “whatever each person wants to use”?” (Dagoods)

    There is no ultimate interpretive method – since the formation of the NT took years to do and each community used these books and letters individually – and that was sufficent for them. It wasn’t until AD 420 or so that the compilation of the bible occured – prior to that people did not use these texts like we have today (this stuff you already know). So my technique hearkens back to one of those original communities – the one that used Matthew as their lens for reading scripture.

    That being said, this is one approach – a very simplified one. It lets the reader know where I stand and where I will be coming from. I think that is fair – this way the convo can become centred. I do use all the other books – to note points – but my central theology will find it basis in Matthew – then work outwards.

    Interpretive method has to be based on a reasonable structure – not a ‘whatever a person wants to do’. I disagree with ‘cut n paste’ doctrine making, Revelations as someone’s basis for making interpretations, etc. I think if someone wants to use the works of John or Paul to build their core theology – then there is enough writing to do such a thing (and this may very well have been the case for early communities). If someone wants to use a single letter or book – I can also agree – since this was likely the case in early communities.

    The interpretive method must be reasonable and able to be defended when asked about – if it does not make sense – and is not reasonable – then I am not sure that method is well founded. I find this with a lot of Christian doctrine making – that it is based on a certain viewpoint which is applied to their ‘cut n paste’ viewpoint.

    But in all honesty, this will mean a variety of viewpoints and strategic focuses for the people based on their method – and I am alright with this – this seems to be what happened in early Christianity and even exists today.

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