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It is possible, and necessary, to draw theological meaning from biblical texts when the exegetical result is blended with contemporary cultural and existential concerns. The result of this effort brings us a step closer to understanding the nature, function, and role of Scripture, hermeneutics, aesthetics, and ethics.

I am aware that my heritage and training leads me to privilege the biblical text and its cultural ambiance and horizon, at least in the beginning of the hermeneutical and theological enterprise. Nonetheless, I am also aware that my life experiences in their respective contexts (and human experiences learned vicariously) form the most proximate horizon for understanding biblical material. The result of this, if framed in terms of method, is a dialectic operating not only within understandings of ancient texts then and now, but also operating between such understandings and human experience of all kinds–my own and that of all humanity, both then and now.

One of the most remarkable, humbling, and disconcerting dynamics that emerges from this method, in my view, is the capacity of Scripture to transcend its idiosyncratic contexts in order to perform personal, social, and cultural critique (then and now) in the service of the present and coming Reign of God.

John D. Fortner

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