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Engaging the Word (New Church's Teaching) [Paperback]

Michael Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Cowley Publications,U.S. (25 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561011460
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561011469
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 13.9 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,183,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

Johnston introduces us to the key terms and concepts of biblical criticism that show us how to read Scripture on three key levels the literal, historical, and prophetic.

From the Publisher

The Bible without fear!
The companion to Roger Ferlo's Opening the Bible, this book teaches us how to intrepret the Hebrew and Christian scriptures using the tools introduced in that book. Johnston describes terms and concepts of biblical criticism, showing us how to read scripture on three levels: the literal, historical and prophetic. Above all, this books seeks to help us be preceptive and intelligent readers of the Bible.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The word made real 9 Jan 2006
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
The Episcopal church in the twentieth century took advantage of the general availability of publishing to good advantage, compiling through several auspices different collections and teaching series, the latest of which was only completed a few years ago. There have been 'unofficial' collections of teaching texts, such as the Anglican Studies Series by Morehouse press, put out in the 1980s, as well as an earlier teaching series.
However, each generation approaches things anew; the New Church Teaching Series, published by Cowley Publications (a company operated as part of the ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist - SSJE - one of the religious/monastic communities in the Episcopal church, based in the Boston area) is the most recent series, and in its thirteen volumes, explores in depth and breadth the theology, history, liturgy, ethics, mission and more of the modern Anglican vision in America.
This third volume, 'Engaging the Word' by Michael Johnston, picks up where second volume leaves off. Whereas Ferlo in the second volume looks at the Bible as a document in practice and development, Johnston's emphasis is on interpretation and meaning.
The first several chapters of this look at narratives - stories. How does one tell the story? What are the important aspects of retelling the story, and of receiving the story? How do we adapt the story to our own situations and make it our own? There are key stories in the biblical text - the Abraham cycle, the story of the Exodus, the gospel stories of Jesus - identifying these and the worlds they came from are key steps.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Identifying the proper uses of the Bible 18 Feb 2002
By Charles S. Houser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book, written primarily for Anglicans/Episcopalians, is a concise and wonderful answer to Christians who give the Bible too much prominence in their faith-life, those who are perhaps guilty of practicing "Bibliolatry." Without disrespecting the Good Book, Johnston speaks about the importance of reading the Bible within the context of a community of faith, and like communities of faith, the Bible is a living and ever-changing thing. I especially appreciated the distinction he draws between reading the Bible literally, historically, and prophetically. And anyone who considers the Bible to be a sacred text needs to read it in all three senses. Reading the Bible literally means to read exactly what's on the page (not to read into it things you remember for Sunday School or Christmas pageants)--to see it with fresh eyes. To read it historically means to be reasonably curious about the story behind the scene and to be willing to do a little background research to better understand the context of these ancient texts. And to explore the Bible in its prophetic sense is to be willing to understand what the text has to say about the way we apply the lessons of the Bible and live out our own lives today. One statement Johnston makes that I will continue to ponder for some time is, "Bible readers in Christian communities do not so much need experts as they do adepts, skilled readers who can both instruct and inspire with their own passion for the Bible" (p. 40).
The last three chapters ("Who is the God of the Bible?", "Who is the Jesus of the Bible?", and "The Word as Sacrament") are especially thought-provoking. ENGAGING THE WORD is volume three in a twelve-part series called "The New Church's Teaching Series." Volume 2, OPENING THE BIBLE by Robert Ferlo, is also worth reading and deals with more practical issues about what Christians should know in order to begin a meaningful and satisfying practice of reading the Bible.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The word made real... 14 Jun 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Episcopal church in the twentieth century took advantage of the general availability of publishing to good advantage, compiling through several auspices different collections and teaching series, the latest of which was only completed a few years ago. There have been 'unofficial' collections of teaching texts, such as the Anglican Studies Series by Morehouse press, put out in the 1980s, as well as an earlier teaching series. However, each generation approaches things anew; the New Church Teaching Series, published by Cowley Publications (a company operated as part of the ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist - SSJE - one of the religious/monastic communities in the Episcopal church, based in the Boston area) is the most recent series, and in its thirteen volumes, explores in depth and breadth the theology, history, liturgy, ethics, mission and more of the modern Anglican vision in America.
This third volume, 'Engaging the Word' by Michael Johnston, picks up where second volume leaves off. Whereas Ferlo in the second volume looks at the Bible as a document in practice and development, Johnston's emphasis is on interpretation and meaning.
The first several chapters of this look at narratives - stories. How does one tell the story? What are the important aspects of retelling the story, and of receiving the story? How do we adapt the story to our own situations and make it our own? There are key stories in the biblical text - the Abraham cycle, the story of the Exodus, the gospel stories of Jesus - identifying these and the worlds they came from are key steps. Re-reading to grasp aspects of community is also a critical step - Johnston uses the example of the gospel of John and the Johannine relationship with the more-dominant Jewish culture to show the complexities that can arise. These first three chapters can be considered strategy sessions.
The next chapters look at methods and uses. Johnston discusses some of the more recent hermeneutic processes, as well as methods for tying things together to make general sense. These can then be turned to answering critical questions such as 'Who is God?' and 'Who is Jesus?' The key purpose to all of this is to build community and find the place of Jesus. In his epilogue, Johnston focuses upon two particular pieces from the Emmaus text (Luke 24:27 and Luke 24:30-31) that locate Jesus for us; we must also find and form ourselves in process with these.
Anglicanism is sometimes accused of not taking the Bible seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this text will indicate. The Anglican church requires no particular hermeneutical framework, nor any particular translation of the text to be used. However, this freedom is accompanied by the longer traditions of the church that give respect and authority to certain kinds of interpretation over others.
Michael Johnston is an Episcopal priest who has taught Bible study and classes in lots of parish groups. He has also taught at Seabury-Western (the Episcopal seminary in Chicago) and his diocese's school for deacons.
Each of the texts is relatively short (only two of the volumes exceed 200 pages), the print and text of each easy to read, designed not for scholars but for the regular church-goer, but not condescending either - the authors operate on the assumption that the readers are genuinely interested in deepening their faith and practice. Each volume concludes with questions for use in discussion group settings, and with annotated lists of further readings recommended.
2.0 out of 5 stars Arrogant. 28 Nov 2013
By Brian J. Henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Even when I agreed with him I still was frustrated with him. His tone is very arrogant and very sure of himself. He states some of his positions as fact without so much as mentioning other viewpoints and debates going on surrounding it. The book also just as a whole didn't feel coherent, rather more patched together thoughts, and well, rather boring. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone I know.

Though it's the first real layperson friendly book I've read on scripture and interpretation, I've heard far better things about Peter Enns, Thom Stark, Scott McKnight, and Christian Smith's works on the same topic.
5.0 out of 5 stars Exegesis and Exploration of the Bible 9 May 2011
By Edward J. Barton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Johnson takes the reader through a method of Biblical exegesis and analysis that includes looking at all passages of Scripture in the terms of their historical setting, what did they mean to their historical audience, and what do they mean for us today. His gift to the discussion is his illustrations of various interpretations of New Testament passages in light of the Judeo-Roman War and destruction of the Temple, as well as the persecution of the early Christians. His approach is one of asking fundamental questions, and reminding us that if something looks kind of fishy (like "herds of swine" when pigs don't congregate in herds) should draw our critical thinking to deeper meanings of the text. A good read.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful, but a bit dry 5 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a very in-depth look at how to read scriptures. It has a lot of helpful information, but it's also somewhat boring. However, it is written for the general population and does not read like a textbook. The author suggests reading it with a bible at hand, and that is helpful. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a lot about how to really read scripture in depth.
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