Can a narrative approach to Paul’s epistles help to enrich scriptural engagement in contemporary ecclesial settings?
Henry, John Paul
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis explores the inter-relationship between a narrative trajectory in Pauline studies, and an ecclesiological hermeneutical reading of Paul encompassing the writings of Stanley Hauerwas and the contemporary Methodist Church. I explore whether or not the idea of a narrative/ecclesiological hermeneutic might shed any light on a reading of 1 Corinthians as ‘scripture’ for the Church. The work involves a three-way dialogue between a Pauline text, the theology of Stanley Hauerwas and my own context as a Methodist Minister. I explore whether or not any or all of the ‘voices’ in the dialogue will bring fresh understanding in the hermeneutical process, add anything in interpretation or bring major critique to bear on any of the other ‘voices’ within that three-way dialogue. My work combines diverse approaches in new ways to investigate how scripture can be fruitfully appropriated in the contemporary Church. Building on the narrative approach to Paul I explore, through a series of Contextual Bible Studies, how 1 Corinthians can be read through the Hauerwasian lenses of vision and narrative. My conclusions are that Hauerwas’s ecclesial perspective remains too distant from the particularities of specific church communities, and that their engagement with scripture is best enriched by a combination of historical-critical exegesis and Contextual Bible Study methods.
MPhil in Theology