We’ve come to the end of this series on Kenneth Bailey’s DVD lectures on Interpreting the Bible. I’m sure I haven’t done it justice but I hope you have at least captured a sense of Bailey’s teaching.
Personally, I appreciate the succinct way he deals with the issue of inspiration and the way he describes the origin of the Bible. His overview of the formation of Luke gives a lot of good material to reflect on.
The recurring theme with Bailey throughout these lectures is that the Bible was written by people to people in specific social and historical contexts. The Bible is a faithful witness to the work of God in those contexts. Therefore, we must begin with social and historical context before moving to meditation, inspiration, and application.
We can’t do this perfectly and that is what I like about Bailey’s notion of having perspectives that are tentatively final. That is not license for timidity. We musn’t wait until we have things all figured out before we act. In fact, I believe that is in acting on what we learn in scripture through God’s leading that our interpretive skills are sharpened.
Finally, Bailey has a phrase he uses frequently. He says, “It doesn’t so much matter where you are on the ladder. What matter is did you get there by climbing or falling.” His point being that we all know imperfectly. The central issue is whether or not we are wrestling with the issues and trying to work our way up the ladder. Or are we just being sloppy and slothful. I hope that maybe this series helps move us another rung or two up the ladder.