Christiconic Interpretation -- By: Abraham Kuruvilla

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 173:690 (Apr 2016)
Article: Christiconic Interpretation
Author: Abraham Kuruvilla

Christiconic Interpretation*

Abraham Kuruvilla

* This is the second article in the four-part series “A Vision for Preaching,” delivered as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 3-6, 2015.

Abraham Kuruvilla is Research Professor of Pastoral Ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.


In the previous article, I showed that the text itself gives us its thrust—what it is all about, what the author is doing with what he is saying, the pragmatics of the text.1 Only by catching these doings of the author can we arrive at valid application. Or to put it in the words of Paul Ricoeur, the biblical canon as a whole projects a world in front of the text2God’s ideal world, individual segments of which are portrayed by individual pericopes.3 Thus each sermon on a particular pericope is God’s gracious invitation to mankind to live in his ideal world by abiding by the thrust of that pericope—the requirements of God’s ideal world as called for in that pericope’s world-segment. And as mankind accepts that divine invitation, week by week and pericope by pericope God’s people are progressively and increasingly inhabiting this ideal world and abiding by divine will.

And because this world in front of the text speaks of God and how he relates to his creation, I call this thrust and this world the theology of the pericope. Each sermon, then, must point out the theology of the pericope under consideration, elucidating what that specific text affirms about God and his relationship with mankind: the values of the world in front of the text. Biblical interpretation for preaching and application that does not discern this intermediary, pericopal theology, is de facto incomplete, for without discerning this entity, valid application can never be discovered. I defined pericopal theology this way: Pericopal theology is the theology specific to a particular pericope—representing a segment of the plenary world in front of the canonical text that portrays God in his relationship to his people—which functions as the crucial intermediary in the move from text to application.

Here are the two steps of preaching again:

Figure 1: Scheme of preaching

One pericope at a time, the various aspects of Christian...

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