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Shaping the Scriptural Imagination

Truth, Meaning, and the Theological Interpretation of the Bible

Donald H. Juel

Publication Year: 2011

The late Donald H. Juel (1942–2003) devoted his life to engaging scripture faithfully, intelligently, and imaginatively. For Juel, theological interpretation of the Bible meant having an encounter with the living God. This volume identifies and connects many of the overarching themes that animated Juel's work. Including his thoughts on the rhetorical nature of scripture, the challenges facing academic instruction of the Bible, the reader's place in the biblical narrative, and the hope of resurrection, among others, the selections are accessible and engaging and paint a unique portrait of the way Juel thought and lived. Juel seeks to nourish readers in developing richer imaginations about who God is and how Christians meet God through reading the Bible.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Donald Harrisville Juel was born on March 4, 1942, in Alton, Illinois. After receiving his B.A. at St. Olaf College in 1964 and a B.D. from Luther Seminary in 1968, Juel entered the doctoral program at Yale University. He was awarded the Ph.D. in 1973 (M.Phil. 1971) after writing a dissertation on the trial of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark with Nils Dahl. ...

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Introduction: Donald Juel’s Scriptural Imagination

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pp. 1-10

This book aspires to make the ideas of Donald H. Juel available to readers who are unfamiliar with his life’s work, as well as to readers who have known this work but may remain less than fully aware of how influential it has been to their ways of thinking about God and the Bible ...


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pp. 11

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1. “Your Word Is Truth”

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pp. 13-31

For the last decade, a colleague and I have taught a course with the modest title “Truth and Meaning: Interpreting the Gospel of Mark.” The first assignment is to write a brief essay on the question “When we say the Bible is true, what do we mean, and what methods of interpretation appreciate its truthfulness?” The exercise—the prospect of which is as unnerving ...

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2. The Strange Silence of the Bible

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pp. 33-48

In 1970 James Smart, already professor emeritus at Union Seminary in New York, wrote an influential little book entitled The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church.

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3. A Disquieting Silence

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pp. 49-62

No point in a story is as significant for appreciation and interpretation as its ending. That is surely the case in Mark’s Gospel. The abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion has not surprisingly spawned a massive secondary literature— most of recent vintage, however. Interest in the ending became possible only with the publication of editions that relegated verses 9-20 ...

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4. Interpretation for Christian Ministry

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pp. 63-75

As the title of this essay suggests, interpretation is always for something; it serves some end.¹ The particular “end” in view here is “Christian ministry.” That end presumes certain commitments and prejudgments. We read the Scriptures because they are to serve as “the norm in matters of faith and practice.” The rather straightforward statement invites Bible readers ...

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5. Hearing Peter’s Speech in Acts 3: Meaning and Truth in Interpretation

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pp. 77-86

It is remarkable how significantly interpretation can be shaped by the sorts of questions asked of the Bible. Consider, for example, the question, “What does Peter’s speech in Acts 3 mean?” For ordinary Bible readers, the question may seem perfectly appropriate. The more sophisticated might insist that the first question should be, “What did the speech mean?” It was, after ...

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6. Interpreting Israel’s Scriptures in the New Testament

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pp. 87-105

Interpreting the Bible was a major form of theological conversation and formation in early Christian circles. Appreciating the role of interpretation in the development of tradition and its place in the narrative and epistolary literature of the New Testament is an important task of modern biblical scholarship. The enterprise requires discipline, especially ...

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7. The Trinity and the New Testament

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pp. 107-120

A colleague and I took our introductory Bible class to a local synagogue for a Friday evening service. The congregation was accustomed to Christian visitors and had a brief, helpful introduction to the service conducted by one of the lay members. The introductions were usually careful and precise, but one year our host chose to be a bit daring. His introduction began ...

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8. Interpreting Mark’s Gospel

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pp. 121-153

Crucial to interpretation is knowing where to begin. Bible reading, of course, has no prerequisites. Anyone can pick up a Bible and start reading. It may be argued, in fact, that anxiety about being fully prepared to interpret the Bible can actually inhibit reading and enjoyment. This volume is written with confidence that there is nevertheless much to learn that can ...


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pp. 155

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1. John 14:25-27 and John 16:13

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pp. 157-159

A student in a Doctor of Ministry course was a Mennonite. He had undertaken his educational venture, he said, to explore ways to counteract the corrosive effect of seminary education on Mennonite pastors. Mennonites, he explained, believe that God’s most important work, the work of the Spirit, occurs within the life of the community of faith. Mennonites ...

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2. Luke 23:34

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pp. 161-164

I expect that many of you have been here before, at a service that takes us as far as Jesus’ death. Some of you know the Bible story well enough to recognize this statement of Jesus as one of his “seven last words.” You ought to know that there is no story in the Bible that tells of Jesus’ seven last words. Each of the four Gospel writers tells the story somewhat differently ...

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3. Luke 14:15-24

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pp. 165-167

In the face of the apocalyptic scenes—the sun being turned to darkness by the smoke from fires rising in major cities, fires set by raging mobs— ordinary religious talk sounds particularly innocuous. There’s something overly cultivated and cautious about the way we speak of God. Perhaps it grows out of fear of offending others. Perhaps it arises from an attempt to ...

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4. 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

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pp. 169-171

In an era when military uniforms are no longer fashionable, Paul’s imagery is somewhat discomforting. He speaks of himself as a warrior for the Lord, engaged in combat. That language should have gone out with the Crusades. It sounds healthier to speak of pastors as servants or healers or helpers or even facilitators. Being a peacemaker sounds better than being ...

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5. Mark 14:53-65

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pp. 173-176

During our first session, I asked a class on Mark what members made of a book that spent one-sixth of the story narrating the death of the main character. One perceptive member suggested that it sounded like the author was a person who had not come to terms with the death of someone close. We spent a long time on that response. Who ever comes to ...

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6. Psalm 139

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pp. 177-179

Spring has finally come. The planting season is at last upon us. It’s time to crank up the machines and begin the seeding. Some of you have been itching for this moment all winter. Others of you may be more apprehensive. You’ve come to enjoy living in the barn, fiddling endlessly with the equipment. Well, it’s time for work. Time of preparation is over. Jesus is out of ...

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7. Mark 16:9-20

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pp. 181-183

I will confess that I have never before heard those words, which are identified in the New RSV as the “longer ending,” read in church. And I hope I never will again. Yet, throughout most of the history of the church, that’s the way Mark’s Gospel was concluded. One of God’s great gifts to modern folks, at least to those of us living in the last century and a half, was the ...

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8. Galatians 4:9-11

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pp. 185-187

I knew a student once with a mind like a steel trap. He was eternally lying in wait for ideas. When one would happen by, he’d snatch it from the air like some great frog capturing a hapless fly and proceed to digest it. He was good at processing things, making ideas fit into systems. Theology provided him with an algebra, a set of formulas for making sense of life ...

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pp. 189-195

Don Juel’s tragic illness and death deprived us of a masterful scholar and educator who still had much to teach all of us. At the onset of his medical problems, he was at the height of his scholarly career and was an engaging and delightful writer, teacher, and speaker. As Matt Skinner and I first began talking about this volume of Don’s writings on biblical interpreta-...


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pp. 197-205

Index of Scripture and Ancient Sources

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pp. 207-211

Index of Authors

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pp. 213-214

Subject Index

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pp. 215-216

E-ISBN-13: 9781602583849
E-ISBN-10: 1602583846
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602583818
Print-ISBN-10: 1602583811

Page Count: 228
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st