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The Return of Oral Hermeneutics

As Good Today as It Was for the Hebrew Bible and First-Century Christianity

“Steffen and Bjoraker have written an important book that, used properly, can revitalize the use of the Bible—bringing passion, life, and interaction. The book sets out a program for interaction and transformation that can be very powerful in so many ways. It is important to note that an ancient Hebraic way of thinking (not always the Greek influenced Rabbinic way) was based on engaging truth on a personal level. This book shows how that way of approach to the Scriptures can be made available to the modern reader—Jew and Gentile. . . . I hope that many small groups embrace the methods provided here. It will revitalize all who desire to see the success of small groups as essential to the life of congregations.”

Daniel Juster, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Tikkun International

About the book

Have Western exegetes turned an Eastern book into a Western one? Has our fondness for a fixed printed text capable of being analyzed with precision and exactitude blinded us to other hermeneutic possibilities? Does God require all people to be able to analyze grammar to interpret Scripture? Does God assume all people can interpret Scripture through oral means? The authors recognize the effects of centuries of literacy socialization that produced a blind spot in the Western Christian world—the neglect by most in the academies, agencies, and assemblies of the foundational and forceful role orality had on the biblical text and teaching. From the inspired spoken word of the prophets, including Jesus (pre-text), to the elite literate scribes who painstakingly hand-printed the sacred text, to post-text interpretation and teaching, the footprint of orality throughout the entire process is acutely visible to those having the oral-aural influenced eyes of the Mediterranean ancients. Could oral hermeneutics be the “mother of relational theology”?


“I welcome this provocative book. Steffen and Bjoraker rightly challenge Christians to embrace a more balanced approach to interpreting the Bible and applying it faithfully to daily life. They offer a lengthy defense of oral hermeneutics, of course, but they also show how to guide ordinary men and women to use oral hermeneutical processes to dig deeply into God’s word and open themselves to its transforming power.”
– Grant Lovejoy, International Mission Board, SBC


“Steffen and Bjoraker reestablish the place and power of experiencing the word in community.”
– Regina Manley, author of StoryFire


“This book is a must-read for any Bible teacher who wants to understand how to effectively teach the Bible because all Bible teachers engage in oral communication of the Bible message at some point. Anyone interested in effective communication of the message of the Bible will benefit greatly from learning how oral hermeneutics works. This book is engaging enough for the scholar and yet accessible to the newcomer to this subject because of the ‘handles’ the authors include in the book. Readers can actually see how this works. I highly recommend this book to all Bible teachers and serious students of the Bible.”
– Bulus Y. Galadima, Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University


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