Is Our Reading The Bible The Same As The Original Audience’s Hearing It? A Case Study In The Gospel Of Mark -- By: Robert H. Stein

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 46:1 (Mar 2003)
Article: Is Our Reading The Bible The Same As The Original Audience’s Hearing It? A Case Study In The Gospel Of Mark
Author: Robert H. Stein


Is Our Reading The Bible The Same As The Original Audience’s Hearing It? A Case Study In The Gospel Of Mark

Robert H. Stein

[Robert H. Stein is professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280. The following article was delivered as an address at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Toronto, Canada at its November 2002 meeting. Because of the thesis of the address, the present article was left in its original form in order to serve as an example of the difference between material that is written in order to he heard from that which is written in order to be read silently. It is obvious that the content of the present article was addressed to “hearers,” whereas the footnotes were written for those who would read the article silently.]

In a previous paper read at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society entitled “The Benefits of an Author-Oriented Approach to Hermeneutics”1 I sought to demonstrate the importance of maintaining that it is the author who determines the meaning of a text. I want to build on some of the implications of an author-oriented approach to hermeneutics and have chosen as the topic of this paper, “Is Our Reading the Bible the Same as the Original Audience’s Hearing It?” The address is divided into two parts. The first is entitled “The Intended Readers of Mark” and the second is entitled “Consequences” or if we want a more detailed, Germanic-like title “Consequences in the Goal of Interpretation as a Result of Understanding Mark’s Readers.”

I. The Intended Readers Of Mark

In trying to understand the meaning of a text it is important to know something about the readers addressed by the author, that is, the intended readers.2 The more that we know about these readers the more likely it is that we shall be able to understand the willed meaning of the author. Since I have been working a great deal on the Gospel of Mark, permit me to deal specifically with this book of the Bible. I believe, however, that what is true with respect to Mark is also true with respect to other biblical books as well, although some of the OT books raise additional issues and problems. To whom did Mark write his Gospel? Whom did he envision as his intended audience? Since Mark wanted his readers to understand what he was writing, he used a shared set of words or symbols and a shared grammatical syntax. If we

therefore learn the meaning of these symbols and the grammatical syntax the author shared with his intended readers, ...

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