Wednesday Giveaway: Is There a Meaning in This Text?

ZA Blog on May 4th, 2011. Tagged under ,.

ZA Blog

Books and articles that equip you for deeply biblical thinking and ministry.

Is There a Meaning in This Text This week’s giveaway is a classic, a special tenth anniversary edition of Kevin Vanhoozer’s Is There a Meaning in This Text?. Featuring a new forward by Craig Blomberg, Vanhoozer’s book tackles the questions facing hermeneutics in a postmodern age.

What starts off as contemporary hermeneutics to justify the move from biblical text to systematic theology becomes full-blown, highly sophisticated, theological hermeneutics in Is There a Meaning in This Text?. The decade this book has been in print has not diminished my enthusiasm for it. Vanhoozer is one of the few contemporary scholars who takes a balanced measure of postmodern thought within an unflinching Christian confessionalism.  

Here is neither mere traditionalism nor ephemeral faddishness. If in certain respects the discussion has moved on since Vanhoozer authored this book, that is merely a way of saying that his contribution toward pointing the way forward—the Christian way forward—out of several interpretive morasses has been seminal.” — D. A. Carson 

There are two copies of Is There a Meaning in This Text? up for grabs, and this giveaway will run through Thursday.

To enter simply comment below with your answer to this question: Which interpretive questions do you find most pressing in your studies, ministry, daily life, etc.?

  • Ian Hugh Clary 6 years ago

    The biggest interpretive questions I find for sermon preparation is how to find the redemptive-historical/christological significance of the particular text I’m dealing with. Sometimes it jumps out at you, other times it takes a lot of work!

  • Paul Shirley 6 years ago

    The question that most often comes from my people, and takes the most time to work through in my preaching is how to interpret the OT as a New Covenant believer.

  • dave beldman 6 years ago

    I think one of the toughest questions is: how do I do faithful exegesis of this text, how do I do faithful exegesis of our culture and how can I put the former to work in service of the latter? (err…is that more than one question?)

  • Tim Etherington 6 years ago

    Constantly wrestle with the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New.

  • Kyle Tennant 6 years ago

    I think my questions always arise when I am trying to cross the bridge from historical context to present context–what words and images and illustrations make the text jump out from 100 AD to 2011 AD, especially when I am teaching high schoolers!

    Further, the application–how do we give meaningful “so what’s” based on this text in such a way that the text, the author, and Christ are honored and our people are helped toward holiness?

  • Steve Chromy 6 years ago

    The biggest struggle I have is finding Christ into the text without trying to read my own presuppositions into it.

  • G. A. Dietrich 6 years ago

    I am currently pursuing an in-depth study of how legitimate a christotelic hermeneutic is in understanding the Old Testament. This is in contrast to looking at the Old Testament with a christocentric hermeneutic.

  • Chris Land 6 years ago

    I am taking my youth through the book of Galatians and one of the things I ask is how does this passage we are reading apply to me today. Because so many times people will look at the Bible and not see where it applies to them today.

  • ml 6 years ago

    The basics: What did the authors intend to say, and how does it apply today?

  • Reed Hamil 6 years ago

    I find it very difficult to find a balance between varying forms of interpretation like literary, historical, or form criticisms. It’s easier to pick one and stick with it, but it still feels as if something is lost in such exclusion.

  • Scott D. Andersen 6 years ago

    Biggest challenge is in interpreting Apocalyptic texts especially Revelation.

  • Martin Pitcher 6 years ago

    Where is Jesus in the text and how can I bring Him into the forefront of the people in the pew as I present this text?

  • Jeremiah Parker 6 years ago

    Oh, man! I’d like a free copy of this book. I guess the main thing I’m trying to find in the text is the authors’ intent.

  • Daniel Doleys 6 years ago

    how the tangential or implied knowledge of the text relates to what to calls for.

  • Zach McIntosh 6 years ago

    Connecting the exegetical import of a text to the pastoral implications of a text can be a challenge, for the two do not always line up perfectly. It is important for me to do reasonable justice to the grammatical-historical concerns of a text while also taking those concerns and proclaiming their present reality.

  • Marcus 6 years ago

    I struggle with not forcing every single text into an over-arching grid; not letting every text speak for itself.

  • Steve Bricker 6 years ago

    My struggle is interpreting the passage first in its proper historical sequence, then in its theological sequence relative to the other biblical texts—what has been added, changed, removed, etc.—and finally to personal application.

  • John Lussier 6 years ago

    A big struggle for me is condensing the story of Scripture to several points that are both faithful to the text, and relevant to the culture I am teaching within.

    A second big struggle is determining how much historical-background work to apply in my teaching, and how much it can change the interpretation of a text.

  • Joshua L 6 years ago

    In a Sunday school setting, how to understand particular passages and phrases not as isolated units, but in light of the entire biblical story. Also, the segue from redemptive-historical meaning to contemporary application.

  • Frank Gantz 6 years ago

    In my daily life – determining what is descriptive or prescriptive in historical sections.

  • Keith 6 years ago

    What are legitimate applications of texts of Scripture to modern-day believers.

  • Greg Smith 6 years ago

    I am currently struggling with understanding the correct interpretation of Genesis 1 & 2.

  • John williams 6 years ago

    Using the bible to advise and critique on an ever changing culture.

  • James Adams 6 years ago

    My question is how to get to the meaning of the text within the theological context of the entire Bible.

  • Danny 6 years ago

    The continuity and discontinuity between the Old (Mosaic) and New Covenants.

  • Ryan Bouton 6 years ago

    How do we appropriately, faithfully, and effectively apply the Scripture to our present context and congregation?

  • Jeff Doles 6 years ago

    I and wondering if or how much reader-response should figure into Biblical interpretation.

  • Jeff Co 6 years ago

    What is the proper way of interpreting Gen 1-2

  • Bruce 6 years ago

    How do I engage with God’s Word on God’s terms, not mine?

  • Aar241 6 years ago

    That’s simple. As I study Scripture, I struggle to understand how dispensationalism is or ever was considered credible.

  • Tim 6 years ago

    Understanding the early missionary activity of the church without my cultural biases and applying that to the cultures in which I work.

  • Tony Springer 6 years ago

    Some concerns are seeking to read the relationship between author and audience;
    Understanding the “interpretation history” of the text; Knowing my own agendas and limitations.

  • Dave Mattson 6 years ago

    Asking, “What is the author saying?” before I ask “how can I apply this to my situation (and the young adults that I’m teaching)?”. It’s so easy to just skip to our situation, take things out of context and pervert God’s Word.

  • Nate 6 years ago

    One of the questions I’ve wrestled with is how to validate an idea as being present in the actual text of Scripture if it is something that would have never occurred to the original audience or the human author. I realize I can punt to God’s divine intention in the text, which makes it possible to posit ideas like that, but it is hard to validate them as legitimate and not just speculative on my part.

  • Jeremy Myers 6 years ago

    The question I face over and over is:

    Is this text descriptive or prescriptive?

  • Ryan Boyer 6 years ago

    What started out as a curiosity in seminary has become a very practical question that comes up with great regularity: how are we to apply the Mosaic Law to our lives as Christians. The challenging line between “I eat bacon; praise be to Jesus” and “Thou shalt apply every word of Leviticus” isn’t always as clear cut as it would seem. More simply, the issues related to God’s free grace through Christ while faithfully pursuing holiness (without being moralistic) are genuine dilemmas.

  • Josh Mann 6 years ago

    The question: How should I allow how the NT author handled the OT text to influence how I do the same?

    To get at the same issue another way: What hermeneutic was employed by the NT author and how does it compare with my own hermeneutic?

  • dave 6 years ago

    One of the biggest challenges is communicating the authority of the Scriptures’ text over and against the powerful and prevalent texts of our culture.

  • Mike S. 6 years ago

    The use of the OT in the NT.

  • Aaron Sellars 6 years ago

    The question I always need to ask is what was the original authors intent for the original audience. If it didn’t mean it for them it cannot mean it for us today.

  • Kim 6 years ago

    What does it mean that “insert text” is Gods word for me?

    Sometimes this is easy to answer but many times I is very difficult.

  • Paul A. Nierengarten 6 years ago

    Something I struggle with is the significance of soul, and spirit. Many biblical texts present the soul and spirit in no certain terms; seeming to exchange them synonymously. However, Hebrews 4:12 seems to indicate a very sublte distinction. Much ink has been already spilled on this, but I have yet to find a satisfactory answer.

  • Quentin D 6 years ago

    Beyond the normal rigor of exegesis, my question is, assuming you have arrived at an interpretation of a text, how do you teach the text in such a way that your teaching not only communicates the meaning of the text, but also accurately captures and communicates the style/genre/form/feel of a text?

  • Jason Kuo 6 years ago

    Bridging from narrative/descriptive blocks of text to present-day application.

  • Jonathan Ammon 6 years ago

    One of the hardest questions for me in interpretation is how much of my understanding is based on tradition. Is there a different way to read this text? Am I taking traditional interpretation for granted?

  • Terry 6 years ago

    To me, the most important question is to ask why God included this passage here, in this book, in this section of Scripture. What significance does it have in the flow of redemptive history?

  • Craig P. Hurst 6 years ago

    If in the OT then is there a NT fulfillment and where. If in the NT then is this a fulfillment of the OT and where.

  • Chares 6 years ago

    I wrestle with the relationship of interpretation to application.

  • Brian LePort 6 years ago

    I wrestle with reading the Scriptures as historical documents v. a canonical reading.

  • Drjojophd 6 years ago

    Very simply, my question is what did it mean when written; and what does it mean for me today.

  • Kerygma 6 years ago

    One of the most pressing interpretive questions I have is “How do I preach Christ from the Old Testament?” If he is the fulfillment of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, how do I faithfully communicate Christ from OT texts that don’t seem to relate to him.

  • Bill Mazey 6 years ago

    I try to compare Scripture with Scripture to see what the text means. Then how does the text apply? What degree of transfer is there? How do I make it easy to understand and meaningful to today.

  • Matt M 6 years ago

    The biggest questions I ask are this:

    1) What is this text saying about the King (the Lord Jesus)?

    2) What is this text saying about the King’s subjects (the Church)?

    3) What is this text saying about those outside the Kingdom (the lost)?

    4)What are the most pressing theological issues presented in this text, and how do they relate to the first three questions?

  • Jason Bunch 6 years ago

    Finding Christ’s love in all of the Scriptures is sometimes hard for me. I actually have had this book on my Amazon wishlist for a while now.

  • Brian Small 6 years ago

    What does this text tell me about God? What does this text tell me about living the Christian life?

  • Scott H. 6 years ago

    most pressing question: how to read more holistically, bridging mind and heart?

  • Jason Gudim 6 years ago

    The most difficult interpretive question I have is “What did the author mean by this?” I find if I can answer that, it helps me from changing the meaning of the text to fit my current situation.

  • Robert 6 years ago

    Bridging the gap of time, culture, etc.

  • Kendrick 6 years ago

    How should I understand the use of Old Testament in the New Testament when it seems to be a stretch of the original meaning of the OT text? How do I understand if a passage is redemptive-historical or existential for the present-day? Or if it is merely cultural as opposed to universal for that matter.

  • Todd 6 years ago

    I have to spend the most time wrestling with the interrelationship between the meaning of a passage and the overarching theme of the book.

  • Steven Ganz 6 years ago

    The most pressing issue I face in interpretation is how to show people either one of two things:
    1) how the scripture applies to their life and
    2) how the scripture, as written, does not apply to their life.

  • Harrisonh 6 years ago

    My biggest struggle is trying to debunk the false teachings of all the televangelists especially when they take one verse out of context of the paragraph or chapter. Many Christians think that if they saw it on TV it must be true. Hermeneutics is an essential part of Christian discernment.
    There is latitude in interpretation and there is a necessary spectrum in orthodoxy (small o), but it is kinda doubtful that dispite what a very famous husband/wife team claims, that Mark 10:29-30 means that if you donate $50 bucks, you will magicly get back 5,000. We know it was that the new Christian might lose his old family due to shunning, but he would gain a new Christian “family”

  • James Batson 6 years ago

    Linking the authorial intent with the contemporary reader while taking into account 2000 years of exegesis by those who have gone before.

  • Kenneth Bent 6 years ago

    Just this week I asked a Pastor friend of mine how far he thought I could take an application of the qualities of the rich young ruler (wealth, youth, influence, and a basic moral compass). I want to apply them at least comparatively to common American culture, but don’t want to so extrapolate the similarity to the point where I lose connection with; or fall short of; integrity in handling the text.

  • Kevin Corbin 6 years ago

    Bridging the gap between authorial intent and current application

  • Mark 6 years ago

    I think the biggest challenge is knowing what should be a major point vs. what should be a minor point… often it seems that nuancing is hard to find.

  • Chris Terry 6 years ago

    In my studies the most important question to answer is, “what is authorial intent?”. Apart from asking and answering this question one is left without interpretive boundaries.

  • Alan Kyle 6 years ago

    What are the principles in the text that I can faithfully apply to the lives that people live in the modern day?

  • Eric 6 years ago

    Definitely finding the author’s original meaning. It is easy to be quick to jump into personal application without discovering the truth in the passage.

  • Kendall Harris 6 years ago

    Some of the questions that I repeatedly ask myself when studying scripture are: What did the original author intend for his immediate audience to gather from his text (within its context); How does this text fit within the shape of the cannon, How does this text tie into the redemptive plot-line of the Bible, and how do I explain this to believers (and unbelievers).

  • Andreas 6 years ago

    I have many quesions, but among the most important are the following:

    How does my understanding of Christ (incarnation/ two natures/ etc.) influence/ shape my understanding of scripture and vice versa?

    Given the fact that equally committed Christians can come to totally different conclusions when reading the same biblical text, how can I maintain the idea of a single authorial intend (human as well as divine author) which has to be discovered, followed and applied?

    How do I get from the text of scripture to theology/ doctrine, given the (in a sense beautiful!) diversity within Scripture? How do I coordinate unity and diversity, which are both certainly there, within Scripture?

    These are some of my questions…

  • Donald 6 years ago

    Understanding how the recontextualisation that we see within the bible, especially in the recontextualising of the Old Testament by the New, should be applied today.

  • Hau Tzeng 6 years ago

    I think one pressing problem is the postmodern semantic question of determining intention through the text. And the multiple layers of intention within a single passage – the intention of a character in the narrative vs. The intention of the author in recording specific details in certain events vs. The intention of the Holy Spirit in inspiring the entire canon of Scripture, redemptive or otherwise. How much of theology is based on conjecture and how can we be sure we haven’t totally missed the point?

  • Matthew George 6 years ago

    I wrestle the most with trying to establish valid bridges between the historical and present contexts.

  • Dan Staifer 6 years ago

    I want to better understand how biblical prophesy works.

  • Johan Djuandy 6 years ago

    The question about the use of typology by the NT writers.

  • Chris 6 years ago

    What is the context of the passage in question and does it apply directly to us today, or rather must I examine the intent of the text?

  • David Brinkley 6 years ago

    As a youth pastor I find that the most difficult questions are bridging the cultural setting of the text and what it meant then to our setting today. Most of the time the scale is tipped to either too narrow (nothing seems to apply) or too broad (those who apply all texts equally despite the dichotomy between the old and current context)

  • Salvador Gomez 6 years ago

    The historical gap between Bible times and our times is big. I find challenging to address modern ethical issues about which the Bible doesn’t say anything. Which principles from the text under study are relevant to those issues?

  • John Morgan 6 years ago

    What is the burden of the text?

  • Dustin Reed 6 years ago

    Definitely how to read and apply the OT, especially with respect to the NT.

  • David Dittmer 6 years ago

    whether it is necessary to make practical temporal application of every truth that is presented in scriptures.

  • Jerry Minor 6 years ago

    What did the text mean to the original audience?

    What does the text mean to us today?

    Why, if any, do these two answers differ?

  • James Dawes 6 years ago

    My hardest struggles are usually about the author’s intent. Why did he put this bit after this bit, and seem to have a bunch of barely related topics here, and sandwich this story between two parts of this story which seems to have little in common with it?

    (In case you didn’t guess, I’m currently studying through Mark.)

    (And I’d really love this book!)

  • Jason C.S. 6 years ago

    Whether or not the meaning I am applying/ascribing to words or phrases in my reading of scripture match ideas and concepts the author is trying to convey.

    What is/are the historical/cultural contexts relevant and important to correctly interpreting a particular passage.

  • Alex Trochez 6 years ago

    I am continually questioning the influence of my cultural environment over my readings of the text of Scripture. I want the meaning of the text to transform me and not me transforming the text to fit any previously conceived bias.

  • jim menzies 6 years ago

    How much is my understanding is slanted by me? Is there ever “objective” teaching?

  • Greg Wilson 6 years ago

    Is Christ in ALL of the Old Testament, or does Luke 24:27 mean the parts of the OT that Christ is in?

  • Andrew 6 years ago

    What did this passage mean to the original readers?

  • Carol Saia 6 years ago

    One desire I have is to learn more about cultural customs which shed light on the meaning of a text.

  • Richard W. Wilson 6 years ago

    The questions that most occupy my time are those regarding how the nature of, and the extent to which, the storied realities of the canonical texts can be read faithfully into the complex storied character of our lives as believers today.

  • Matt 6 years ago

    Justification by faith apart from works?

  • scott mckenzie 6 years ago

    application of text in the OC

  • Jason Button 6 years ago

    How did the original audience read this text? How has the church read this text over the centuries? How should the previous readings guide my reading of the text in my own context?

  • Chris Lee 6 years ago

    I think a hot topic at this point is how do we interpret and apply the OT Law.

  • Doug Scott 6 years ago

    The biggest question I must deal with in the teaching ministry is what the title of the book implies. “Is there a Meaning in this Text?” Reader response hermeneutics and what feelings the text invokes for the reader is often the preferred method of interpretation for many postmodern students. Authorial intent is no longer assumed.

  • Winfred Luong 6 years ago

    Authorial intent. Is the main idea that I read the same main idea that the author had intended to communicate?

  • Shan Hardage 6 years ago

    Descriptive vs. prescriptive issues.

  • Luke Geraty 6 years ago

    Mine: contextualization issues.

  • Wei Yi 6 years ago

    My biggest question: “Is there a meaning in this text?”.

  • Dave Sugg 6 years ago

    Lately I keep running into the difficult issue of determining / interpreting subjective versus objective genetives – i.e. “Faith in Christ” or “Faith of Christ”.

  • Rod Morris 6 years ago

    Which commands and promises were for a specific time and place and which are universally applicable.

  • Chris Phillips 6 years ago

    Does the OT apply to Christians? If so, what applies and how does it apply?

  • Mel 6 years ago

    Determining which are culture-bound and which are not. Right now, major challenges are being raised in our church and denomination regarding complementarian vs egalitarian views of women’s role in the church, homosexuality, etc. etc.

  • Tyson Guthrie 6 years ago

    I wonder how the passage has been interpreted by the Church, and how it must be interpreted for the Church.

  • Ronaldo Ghenov 6 years ago

    Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.

  • Tony A. Bartolucci 6 years ago

    The historically unprecedented information explosion has made available so many divergent and often contrary opinions regarding a given text. Wading through these often leaves me with a degree of ‘epistemological angst’ over the certainty of my own interpretation.

  • Jean Michael 6 years ago

    What did the text mean to the original audience? And based on this, how can we bring out the essential meaning of the text to our contemporary audience, free from cultural bias for instance, so that we can learn to apply timeless principles as taught by God.

  • Kevin Stern 6 years ago

    I struggle with the use of the OT in the NT. The NT writers seem to have a different set of rules than I’m comfortable using myself.

  • Larry Sowders 6 years ago

    Should I structure my sermon in the same manner as the structure of the text of Scripture being preached?

  • Brian Davidson 6 years ago

    To what degree is meaning constrained by authorial intent?

  • Sarah Guthrie 6 years ago

    I want to know the theological implications of the text before me.

  • Mark Taylor 6 years ago

    How do I bridge the gap between the meaning of this text and the lives of my students?

  • Inchristus 6 years ago

    Which interpretive questions do you find most pressing in your studies, ministry, daily life, etc.?

    Gender, gender, gender is job one given the recent NIV 2011 and the important discussions surrounding subordinationism and Trinitarian theologies. A close second is a solid hermeneutic for interpreting apocalyptic genre.