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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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9. Mission, culture, and dialogue: New Testament perspectives andpresent challenges 157


9. Mission, culture, and dialogue: New Testament perspectives and present challenges Introduction This final chapter is an attempt to encircle some of the problems which arise in the encounter between the New Testament texts and our modern experiences and questions. In order that this encounter can be a dialogue it is necessary that the world ("horizon") of the text and our world ("horizon") meet. Such a meeting can result either in a collision or a fusing of horizons.1 One of the preconditions for understanding is an openness on the part of the interpreter for the message of the text. As interpreters we should be aware of our own presuppositions. Otherwise, our "exegesis" easily will become an "eisegesis". We should also notice that the horizon of the text is not closed and fixed, but moves as the interpreter moves.2 Therefore, it is indispensable to have a mutual challenge between the New Testament and today's mission. There is a demand for a change ofperspectives which means that we should alternately attempt to see the problems from the perspective of the texts and from the perspective of our own time. The outline of this chapter differs from the preceding ones. Throughout the chapter there is a change of perspectives from the texts to our questions. Among the contemporary currents in missiology I have selected three issues which are of specific importance in these years.3 The first one is about plurality and unity in mission, the second one about gospel and culture, and the...

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