Wednesday, 7 January 2009

An Explicitly Theological Interpretation of Scripture

A theological interpretation of Scripture invites us to understand the text of scripture from an explicitly theological view, and often in a terribly realistic manner! Take the baptism of Jesus as narrated in Mark 1:9-11. Usually the text would be scrutinized from a range of perspectives, including historical (background, what really happened), textual (comparing it to the parallel story in the other three gospels), etc. But what if we took the text really to be narrating 'action' between (in traditional language), Father, Son and Spirit? The Son (Jesus) is bestowed with an experience of the Father's love and pleasure through the gift of the Spirit: "You are my Son, the beloved; with whom I am well pleased." (Mk 1:11).

The church's traditional belief in the Trinity is derived from, amongst other considerations, just such an interpretation of scripture. Rather than only thinking of Jesus and his life, death and resurrection as being played out within our history, it is also possible to think of our history as now included in God's life. That is, think of God as a 'story' of love between Father, Son and Spirit, and this God, by the becoming-human of the Son, has included our 'story' into God's own 'story'. In the story of the baptism of Jesus we are witnessing the very inner life of God, played out within history. We are party to God's own life.

This is an inversion of how we usually see our relationship to God. We usually think of God being included in our story (nothing wrong with this), but the point of the Incarnation (the becoming-human of the Son) is ultimately to include us into God's life. God becomes part of our 'story', so we can become part of God's 'story' of love. And in becoming part of God's story those elements within our history, elements of despair, violence and death, are transformed. We call it resurrection.

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