A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Douglas A. Sweeney’s, Edwards the Exegete: Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the Enlightenment (Oxford).
One of the take aways from this book for those of us who preach or teach the Bible is the four different ways Edwards regularly approached studying the Bible. The four ways are Canonical, Christological, Redemptive-Historical, and Pedagogical exegesis. Think of them as supplements you take to boost your daily nutrient intake. Do you take any or any combination of them each week during sermon preparation?
These four approaches supplement what we normally think of as exegesis: historical-grammatical-literary. Edwards helps us remember why we need to move beyond the realms of word, historical, and literary studies. Here’s what we gain and how our congregation profits from the results of the following four exegetical practices:
Canonical Exegesis: This shows how your preaching portion fits with other Scriptures. Look for times when other Scripture provide vital additional information for the interpretation of your preaching portion. Your congregants will appreciate seeing how God’s revelation works together to create meaning.I don’t recommend the common practice of showing listeners other Scripture that say the same thing as your preaching portion.
Christological Exegesis: This shows how your preaching portion functions for the Church because of Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension, and dispatching His Spirit on those who believe. Your listeners will appreciate learning how all Scripture points to the grace of God in Christ. This will keep all sanctification efforts faith-based and help avoid the dreaded moralistic, self-help sermon application. And remember that when you remind the saints about the Gospel, any non-Christians in attendance get to hear the Good News too.
Before Sunday I hope you will supplement your normal exegesis with one or more of these four approaches, all for God’s glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).