3 Short Essays: Contextualisation

[Note: This is 3 of 3 essays, submitted as part of a course in Hermeneutics with LST]

The Bible itself comes to us in a particular context, presents to us a God that accommodates himself to us and ultimately does so in the Incarnation of the son who too is called the ‘Word’ of God. The final end of all exegesis must be contextualisation of the message of the Bible that we regard as not only to be read for intellectual analysis but to be believed.

The term itself came first through those with a missiological concern as they sought to explain the scriptures to cultures that were wholly different from theirs. This involved transporting the Bible as text produced from a specific context into another, transposing with it all of its social, environmental and linguistic specificities. A western audience (at the time) needed this to an increasing lesser extent because it has benefitted from decades of Biblical awareness even to the point of overfamiliarisation with figures such as the Pharisees especially in the case of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

Missiological studies later on expanded their usefulness to not just advances in the African and Asian context and many began to realise that every new group of people, city or country could be regarded as another mission field with its own fairly unique setting. This meant that when expounding the Text of the Bible, analogies used had to be specially fitting to this new setting.

Contextualisation has recently courted controversy in the form of the insider movement where converts from the Muslim context are urged to carry on their lives in the usual manner including attending the mosque and the reading of the Quran yet embracing Jesus with an inward profession of faith.

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