The Kingdom of God as a Framework for Evangelical Biblical Hermeneutics
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ABSTRACT THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS A FRAMEWORK FOR EVANGELICAL BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS Daniel Lane Patterson, Ph.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2015 Chairman: Dr. Russell D. Moore This dissertation explores the theological relationship between the Word of God and the kingdom of God as it relates to biblical hermeneutics, arguing that the kingdom of God should function as a central organizing principle in the area of evangelical biblical hermeneutics—as it offers a unified theological vision of the relationship between the Bible, the interpreter, and biblical interpretation and has the explanatory power to inform and enrich evangelical theology at several key points. Chapter 1 introduces the topic of kingdom-focused biblical hermeneutics in the context of its emergence from the evangelical consensus on the kingdom of God. It offers the thesis of this study and highlights the uniqueness of the study—showing how, though much work has been done on the nature of the kingdom, the doctrine of Scripture, and the discipline of biblical hermeneutics, this project joins all three showing how each are interrelated and enriched by a thoroughgoing interaction with the kingdom of God. Chapter 2 examines the relationship between kingdom and Scripture. It explores the way in which the kingdom of God is a central theme in Scripture, the way in which Scripture functions to bring about the kingdom, and how integrating kingdom thought can enrich an evangelical doctrine of Scripture, especially with respect to Scripture’s authority, sufficiency, and trustworthiness. Chapter 3 considers the impact of the kingdom of God on the interpreter, standing in need as he is of redemption and renewal. Because both interpretation and the interpreter of Scripture are marred by sin, the redemption wrought through the victory of the kingdom has distinct implications for how one approaches the Bible in interpretation, especially with respect to one’s understanding of the impact of sin on the hermeneutic process, the nature of obedience in the interpretation of Scripture, the renewal of the interpreter, and the ecclesial context of interpretation. Chapter 4 discusses the relationship between the kingdom and the process of interpretation itself. It explores and evaluates a number of current approaches to biblical hermeneutics so as to show how a kingdom focus can inform and enhance these models. Additionally, this chapter argues that the kingdom forms the shape of Scripture and the act of interpretation, and also conceives of the interpretive task as an act of kingdom warfare. As such, it carries implications for the way the interpreter conceives of authorial intention, meaning, public and private reading, exegesis, and application. Chapter 5 concludes the study by summarizing the arguments of the dissertation and offering possibilities for future study. It reaffirms the importance of the kingdom focus this study proposes and suggests ways that biblical hermeneutics and evangelical theology can benefit from further research on the centrality of the kingdom of God in biblical and systematic theology.