In This Issue
In October 1975 most of the Bible and theology teachers from the three colleges and the seminary sponsored by the Mennonite Brethren met to discuss common concerns. This meeting took place in a Chicago hotel room, and the occasion that made it possible was the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Plans were made to meet again in 1976 in connection with AAR despite some uneasiness that Mennonite Brethren teachers could not, apparently, find any way to meet in a churchly context.
The Board of Reference and Counsel, wishing to provide such a context and, desiring larger representation, scheduled a meeting of Bible teachers in Fresno, California, December 16-18, 1976.
The topic chosen for the meeting was hermeneutics, the “science” of the rules and principles which guide the interpretation of any text (especially as applied to the biblical texts). In keeping with a case-study approach, each of the five papers presented dealt directly with an exegetical problem. The intention was that subsequent discussion would focus on the hermeneutic problems that emerged from the exegesis rather than on the problem itself.
It became clear that most of the participants accept, albeit critically, all or most of the major approaches to the texts that are used in contemporary scholarship despite the fact that these approaches often lead to “surprising” interpretations of what the texts “really mean.” Something of a revolution is also in process among us.
It was also clear that those present retain, in their scholarship, the reverent intention to discover what the texts contain; and they desire, in their teaching, to be “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God.” But it should be equally clear that a unity of hearts is no substitute for a continued meeting of minds among the teachers and between them and the churches.
Despite the generous assistance of the Board of Reference and Counsel which made possible the expansion of this issue to 64 pages, and despite sometimes drastic editing and rewriting, it was not possible to include all the papers in this issue. Howard Loewen’s essay, “The Pauline View of Women,” will appear as the lead article in the October Direction.