Avoiding the homiletical hermeneutic
From Expository Thoughts (which quotes from a chapter in Giving the Sense by Daniel I. Block):
…Block warns against the primary pitfall facing preachers, missing the true meaning of the passage by approaching the text with a "homiletical hermeneutic." Here's how he defines his term:
By "homiletical hermeneutic" I mean an approach to the biblical text that is driven by the need to preach a sermon from the text, rather than a thirst for understanding its message in its original context (411).
He goes on to suggest six characteristics that evidence the employment of a "homiletical hermeneutic":
- Focusing on too short a portion of text so as to obscure the overall storyline of the narrative.
- In the interest of time and efficiency, inadequately "wrestling" with a particular narrative text, choosing instead to quickly identify some "preaching points" before really uncovering the text's meaning.
- Honing in on the text's relevance for today's hearer without thinking through its meaning as intended by its author.
- Superimposing Western ideas of sermonic structure on the narrative text as an interpretive grid, instead of considering how the particulars of the genre in which the text is recorded inform one's interpretation.
- Paying too much attention to secondary literature (read: commentaries) relating to the text, rather than prolonged consideration of the text itself.
- An over-emphasis on "rhetorical novelty and homiletical memorability" (412).
So, how "homiletical" is your hermeneutic?