Preaching The Gospels: Methodology And Contextualization -- By: Grant R. Osborne

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 27:1 (Mar 1984)
Article: Preaching The Gospels: Methodology And Contextualization
Author: Grant R. Osborne

Preaching The Gospels:
Methodology And Contextualization

Grant R. Osborne*

Alan Johnson, in his ETS presidential address on December 17, 1982, addressed the question of the value of the historical-critical method. While recognizing the concern of the conservative faction to protect Scripture from “Cartesian skepticism and enlightenment historicism,” he quotes with favor from Carl F. H. Henry’s “The Uses and Abuses of Historical Criticism”: “Freed from the arbitrary assumptions of critics who manipulate it in a partisan way, the method is neither destructive of biblical truth nor useless to Christian faith … The task of historical criticism is to hear the claims of the Bible and to weigh them on merit.”1 hnson calls for a nuanced use of historical criticism that employs a “careful discrimination, scrupulous criticism of our personal presuppositions and methodologies, humility in the face of our limited knowledge, and a patient, loving, yet penetrating analysis of the attempts of our colleagues to bring historical criticism to the aid of a believing interpretation of the Biblical materials.”2 onald Hagher goes further in seeing the task as an absolute necessity, saying that “there is also much truth in modern scholarship, as any reasonable person can see. And if the evangelical does not reach out and affirm the truth that is there, thus showing that the truth of scholarship is not necessarily inimical to the faith of orthodox Christianity, who will? That is the challenge that faces evangelicalism.3 The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the value of critical tools, specifically of redaction criticism, for the preaching task. It is the thesis of this study that the positive techniques of this school will greatly enhance the preaching of the gospels and other historical literature.

However, these generally positive appraisals do not by any means meet universal approval. A deep-seated dissatisfaction remains in evangelical circles, caused by the fear that radically revisionist tendencies cannot be eradicated from critical methodologies. These center upon the current debate regarding redaction criticism, the issue that formed the core of the 1982 ETS national conven-

*Grant Osborne is associate professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deer-field, Illinois.

tion at Northeastern Bible College and that is featured in the Spring 1983 issue of JETS. The recent commentary on Matthew by Robert Gundry is the center of the controversy. He accepts the premise that Matthew embellished t...

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