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New Testament and Mission

Historical and Hermeneutical Perspectives

Johannes Nissen

This book brings together insights from two fields of study: biblical scholarship and missiology. The Great Commission in Matthew’s Gospel is often seen as the biblical foundation for mission. The New Testament, however, reflects a variety of models for mission. Each model is examined with regard to historical meaning as well as hermeneutical significance. The final chapter focuses on three issues of great importance for the present situation: unity and diversity in mission, the gospel in relation to cultures, and Bible and dialogue models.

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1. Introduction: Aim and method of this study 13

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1. Introduction: Aim and method of this study 1. Biblical scholarship and missiology In recent years there has been a growing interest in the biblical foundation for mission. It is a problem, however, that biblical scholars and missiologists are often ignoring each other's work.' Biblical scholars tend to emphasize the diversity of the biblical message and the historical character of each text. The implication of this is that the interpreters are hesitant to draw any conclusions as to the relevance of the texts for today's mis- sion. By contrast, missiologists tend to err in the opposite direction. They are inclined to overlook the rich diversity of the biblical texts and therefore to reduce the biblical motivation for mission to one single idea or text. Missiologists tend far too easily to read back into the Bible aspects of the missionary enterprise in which they are involved today. In order to establish a fruitful dialogue between biblical scholarship and missiology we must give up the traditional division of labour between the historical exegesis and systematic theology. For many years historical criticism has been the dominant model of interpretation. According to this model, the task of the scholar is to uncover the original meaning of the Bible by means of linguistic and historical analysis. Professional interpreters have to jettison all bias so as not to distort the Bible's original meaning with modern questions. When they have completed their job of putting together the package of "original meanings" of the relevant texts, they hand...

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