Text and Interpretation: Christian Understandings of Authoritative Texts in the Light of Social Change.

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This article was originally published as:

McIver, R. K., & Roennfeldt, R. C. (2009). Text and interpretation: Christian understandings of authoritative texts in the light of social change. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 20(3), 257-276. doi: 10.1080/09596410902982919

ISSN: 1469-9311


220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)| 220405 Religion and Society


In purely oral cultures, traditions seamlessly adapt to changing social and political realities. But writing down authoritative religious texts freezes their content. As society changes, so arises the need to interpret the meaning of ancient authoritative traditions in the light of new social realities. The authoritative texts for Christianity have been gathered together into the Bible, and the central issue that will be addressed in this article is the interrelationships between social change and biblical interpretation. It is written in four major sections. The first traces several substantial changes that took place in Christianity as it moved from the social environment of Palestine into the wider Greco-Roman world. The second and third consider Anglicanism and Seventh-day Adventism as case studies of attempts to discover the historical moment against which to measure whether or not a development or idea is authentically Christian. The final section explores the merits of the so-called Wesleyan quadrilateral as an approach to authentic interpretation of authoritative texts in the light of social change. It does so through a consideration of the developing stance of the evangelical theologian Clark Pinnock.


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© 2009 Taylor and Francis

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