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Spring 1995 · Vol. 24 No. 1 · pp. 88–89 

Findings: Appropriating the Biblical Text

John E. Toews


  1. The Bible is the authoritative and normative guide for faith and life.
  2. There are more and less accurate interpretations of biblical texts.
  3. All reading/interpretation of the Bible begins with a question, with a worldview.
  4. Interpretation involves dialogue between the text and the interpreter.
  5. We need to use multiple methods in interpretation; both historical and literary methods are helpful for a fuller understanding of the text.
  6. We move from then to now, from understanding the text in its original context to its meaning today.
  7. Our respective social and professional locations impact how we think about biblical interpretation and the application of the text to life.
  8. It is important to think homiletically and pedagogically about how to use texts in our schools and in the life of the church.


  1. Whether a text has one meaning or multiple meanings.


  1. Whether the meaning we interpret is that of the original author (authorial intent) or the canonical form of the text.
  2. Whether we study texts by moving from the structure of the entire writing to specific texts, or by focusing intensively on the meaning of specific texts apart from their larger literary genres and structures (the methodological difference between Matties, Dyck, Poetker and Zorrilla vs. Geddert and Guenther).
  3. How much we can determine of the original meaning of texts, e.g., Allen Guenther vs. Harold Dyck’s reading of Deuteronomy 24:1-5.
  4. How to bridge the gap between meaning “then” and “now,” and about how to move from one context to another. How much historical distance is there between “then” and “now?” {89}
  5. Whether, and if so how, application consists of more than distilling principles from the text.
  6. The relationship of understanding and obedience, or the role of a hermeneutics of obedience.
  7. How our theology of inspiration influences our views and approaches to the interpretation of biblical texts.
  8. The meaning and usefulness of “reader-response criticism.”


  1. How to exegete the culture/church/our students in the same way we exegete biblical texts.
  2. Whether there are schools of thought, e.g., speech-act theory, that could help us understand and advance our hermeneutical questions and struggles the way earlier schools of thought helped the church resolve theological and interpretive issues.
  3. Where we as teachers in the church go from this Consultation regarding biblical interpretation.
Findings Committee members: John E. Toews, chair; Ken Esau, Lynn Jost, and Katrina Poetker. The committee reported the findings to the participants during the consultation, heard responses, and returned a revised and approved version.

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