Magazines 2023 Sep - Oct Scholar Stanley E. Porter on improving Bible interpretation

Scholar Stanley E. Porter on improving Bible interpretation

01 September 2023

Three questions for scholar Stanley E. Porter

You’ve published dozens of academic books and now edited at least a hundred – wow! Where should our readers start?

Interpretation for Preaching and Teaching: An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (Baker, 2023) can benefit pastors and teachers, but also anyone interested in reading the Bible in a more informed and helpful way. I lay out an approach that moves from the text to theology to teaching and preaching, so that these areas are kept separate, but shown to connect.

You’ve said Paul as a young Pharisee likely met Jesus before His crucifixion. Really?

How could a student of the leading Pharisee, Gamaliel, not come into contact with the most popular religious teacher of his place and time? In 2016 I published When Paul Met Jesus: How an Idea Got Lost in History (Cambridge UP) to revive that view which had gone dormant for the last century. Both 1 Corinthians 9:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:16 suggest Paul knew the earthly Jesus and so recognized Him at his conversion (Acts 9).

How does linguistic study of New Testament Greek help everyday Christians?

Christianity is primarily known to us through written texts in ancient languages. Linguistics is concerned with how we describe and understand language. It’s vital for every Christian since it addresses how we interpret the fundamental documents of our faith. In a sense we practise linguistics when we read the Bible, so being more self-aware of it can only benefit us.

Stanley E. Porter, PhD, has been president, dean and a professor at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ont., since 2001. He was born and educated to the M.A. level in California.

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