Spring 1995 · Vol. 24 No. 1 · p. 2 

From the Editors: Appropriating Biblical Texts

Elmer A. Martens

A consultation on “Teaching and Appropriating the Bible,” sponsored by the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, was held on October 20-22, 1994. The papers, given sometimes in a teaching format, are now presented in print to the wider public.

The goal of the consultation was to examine ways whereby Biblical texts can be applied and receive contemporary significance. More than twenty high school and post-secondary teachers of Bible from eight Mennonite Brethren schools in Canada and the U.S.A. participated. Rather than concentrating only on theories, presenters used specific texts to show models of application. Theory was not absent; it was introduced via reviews of recent authors: G. Osborne, W. Randolph Tate, Robertson McQuilken, and William Klein, et al. [See book reviews].

The interaction was lively, sometimes intense. Some presenters (e.g., Poetker, Geddert, Guenther) leaned primarily on a sociological-oriented method. Others (Matties, Zorrilla) advocated a literary approach. The findings report identifies the points of debate. Apart from the opening essay by Shillington (not given at the consultation because its author was in Europe), the attentive reader may find a chiasm (!) in the subject-ordering of the theme articles: Jesus, believer, believer, Jesus.

All agreed that the learnings were substantial; some found the experience wonderfully exhilarating. There were holy moments as in hearing the sermon by John E. Toews. A moving moment, quite unplanned, came in the final session (footwashing, John 13). A seminary professor walked in with towel and basin and washed his colleague’s feet while the interpreter was speaking. He wanted to “experience the text,” he said, as well as to be told what it meant.

With this edition the editor, long involved with the periodical and now of retirement age, takes his leave. The relationships with the editorial board, authors, and readers have been most fulfilling. Thank you. New personnel may be expected, quite properly, to set new “directions.”

The Fall edition, “Working with Words,” will focus on communication and literature.