3111 Why the Environment, Women, Colonialization, and Black Lives Matter to New Testament Interpretation

This paper is taught in classes which meet on Wednesday mornings in Michaelmas Term 2021.

This paper will introduce at least five contemporary approaches and perspectives for interpreting the text of the New Testament: Black, womanist, feminist, postcolonial, and ecological. There are many more perspectives one could engage and the paper does not claim to be comprehensive, covering all contemporary perspectives. These five methods, however, will offer a solid introduction to contemporary interpretation so that those who engage
with this paper will become more critically reflective about what it is we do when we interpret New Testament texts. Through these methods, students will be encouraged to embrace critical and creative approaches to Scripture along with a deeper understanding of how people negotiate their contexts when reading the New Testament. By engaging these perspectives and approaches, students will develop their own critical abilities to evaluate different approaches and to examine their utility for a variety of situations. How does a difference in perspective, approach, and method affect the use and interpretation of the New Testament?

Across the 8 weeks of this paper, we will learn about particular critical approaches for New Testament interpretation – what they are, why they matter, and how they work – and then apply this approach to selected texts from the New Testament. Each week, students will be asked to read New Testament texts (ranging from the Gospels to Revelation), a set of chapters and/or articles on a particular approach to New Testament interpretation, and then apply that approach to the New Testament. Students will prepare up to three pieces of written work on which they will receive feedback and one of which could develop into their submitted essay.

Links to each week’s reading are on ORLO (Single Sign on needed to access)

Week 1: Introduction to Biblical Interpretation and Interpretative Communities
Week 2: Black and African American Interpretation of the New Testament
Week 3: Womanist Interpretation of the New Testament
Week 4: Feminist Interpretation of the New Testament
Weeks 5-6: Postcolonial Interpretation of the New Testament
Week 7: Ecological Interpretation of the New Testament
Week 8: Queer Studies and Disability Studies and New Testament Interpretation