Looking for themes in scripture


Looking for themes in scripture


As much as I enjoy haggling over the best interpretation of a particular passage of scripture I think we get away from what God would want to communicate to us through the scriptures. Over the last few years I’ve been looking at the strongest general themes. What did the people value? What was their main concern? What points are reiterated time and again? What was important to several biblical authors?

For example I did a study on the “one anothers” in scripture. I was looking to see if the New Testament talks more about leaders ministering to others or peer ministry. From what I could tell ministry from one to another is a stronger theme than leader ministry. As I compare this to church I see the opposite is true.

It is far too easy to find support for what we do in scripture. There is a lot in scripture written about leaders and to leaders in scripture. One could look at these passages and find a lot of support for leadership driven ministry. The problem comes when we look only for passages that support our position and neglect to reconcile our position with the passages that would round out the picture.

Sometimes the errors we make are more in the strength of our emphasis rather than the legitimacy of specific practice or belief.

  1. #1 by graham on July 28, 2006 - 3:12 am

    Themes have become increasingly important for me. I found that I made the common over-reaction of rejecting all theological systems (e.g. Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology), because they seemed to clearly force scripture through their lens.

    However, I’ve found that exploring ‘themes’ (that I hold more lightly and treat more flexibly than ‘systems’) has been particularly fruitful recently. The theme that I’ve been following for some time is that of Jubilee. The difference I’ve found in approaching it as a theme – rather than a system – is that I don’t pretend to think that this is what the Bible is about, but I take different passages and ideas and mini-themes and see if any light is shed on them by viewing them through Jubilee. So, ‘redemption’ relates quite naturally because of the slavery/freedom ideas, as do nuances of exodus and exile. I guess I see it almost as a mnemonic, a self-teaching guide.

    Anyway, sorry to get so far off the point! The connection is that I first got interested because I read someone doing the same with ‘lay leadership’. They took the one anothers and the maverick prophets and the (seemingly) anti-institutional elements of the OT and combined it with the ‘one anothers’ of the NT – and fed both through community/church/saints/. Fascinating stuff.

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