Friday, February 25, 2011

Meditate day and night

I. Meditate day and night
Nobody can live skipping eating or breathing. No one big meal or deep breathing can be sufficient to the entire life span. Literally, repetition makes life continue. But ironically when it comes to the study, people often do not repeat their reading, thinking or learning. There are many good books or thoughts out there; but they do not take time to read and digest them. Some people think that they mastered them, or others simply do not want to take them. So the primary tip for success in transformative study is nothing other than meditating on thought items digested. According to Psalm 1:2, blessed are those who meditate on the Torah (teaching) of the Lord day and night. The Torah (teaching or instruction) must be mediated in everyday life so that the whole life will be a field of God’s teaching. God also speaks through day and night so we should be ready to receive a revelation day and night. In fact, life is too short to meditate only on days. Sometimes we need sleepless nights with turns and twists. That is a time of revelation. So we need night. In addition, metaphorically, day and night represent a bright side and a dark side of our lives, respectively. That is our life; we know day follows night, and vice versa. Fundamentally, our study, transformative in nature, should be patterned something like this never-ending process of meditation, a work of day and night.

II. Summarize what you know after some time in your own words
No matter what book or essay you read, you should be able to summarize it in a few sentences (a paragraph) in your own words. Embody or digest material so that it can be part of you.

III. Have a big picture and perspective
Begin with a big picture when you write or think after a process of meditation and summing up. Paul's letter to the Romans is a good example. Read the first few verses. Look at Paul’s self-description of "a slave of Christ" and apostle, his view of God, the holy scriptures, the gospel of God, the gospel concerning his Son. He begins with big words very tersely yet clearly. Paul begins with a big picture of his ministry and his thought in the beginning of the letter. How can you relate these subjects with each other?

IV. Then prove or defend your point with persuasive methods
This process also engages other readings. Compare and contrast with other readings. *Romans is an excellent example for this. Paul defends and argues for his big picture of ministry and thought spending the rest of the letter. Analyze the letter for your purpose.

V. Balance between the whole and parts
The truth is that even with a good big picture, you still have to provide details by focusing on the central ideas or key themes that you think the most important. Test whether both the whole (a big picture) and parts cohere and help one another. *example: like building a house, we need a good master plan and detailed works.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Exegetical (Interpretive) Steps in Matt 13:44-50

Yung Suk Kim

The following is a quick note of my reflections on Matthew 13:44-50. How can we teach these texts or what do we learn? Below are the interpretive steps that I suggest to take. Compare with yours. *Note: Exegesis simply means interpretation that engages both the reader and the text.

Matt 13:44-50:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (the New Revised Standard Version).

1. Read these verses many times and take notes on your own. What comes to your mind? Write down any questions, troubles, insights, and anything that you consider important.

2. With all notes and studies on the above texts, now read Matthew as a whole through the theme of "the kingdom of God."

3. See whether your understanding about Matt 13:44-50 is clearer.

4. What is your primary focus on these verses? What are most important verses?

5. What is the primary or preliminary meaning of these texts?

Then, go through the detailed questions as follows:

1) What is the kingdom of heaven? Is it different from the kingdom of God?

2) What is the Matthean vision of the kingdom of God? Who can enter? When and/or how? What is nature of the kingdom of God? The best translation?

3) What is the primary metaphoric import in each parable (treasure in a field; a merchant in search of fine pearls; a net was thrown into the sea)?

4) How do these metaphors and parables help to strengthen intended discipleship in Matthew? Relate them to Jesus' overall message in Matthew and to the entire Gospel.

Then think back and forth about what you pulled out. Take some time and walk and meditate day and night.

5) What is the most important point of learning (knowledge, ethical exhortation, identity formation, motivational insight or force, etc) that you want to communicate with other people in a particular life context?

*References about biblical interpretation: Biblical Interpretation: Theory, Process, and Criteria. click on this.