Are You An Implied Reader of The New Testament?

December 4, 2012 — 1 Comment

9780801027611In Markus Bockmuehl’s Seeing the Word: Refocusing New Testament Study (the inaugural volume in Baker’s (Studies in Theological Interpretation), he presents a proposal for an implied reader of the New Testament. This is in order to facilitate a better understanding of how to approach New Testament studies. I’ve yet to see how he fleshes out this picture since I’ve only read the first chapter, but I thought this much was instructive and I’m looking forward to his second chapter which present a picture of the “implied exegete” of the New Testament.

As Bockmuehl sees it, here’s the “five simple thesis” for what an implied reader of the New Testament looks like:

  • The implied reader of the New Testament has a personal stake in the truthful reference of what it [the NT] asserts (69)
  • The implied reader has undergone a religious, moral, and intellectual conversion to the gospel of which the documents speak (70)
  • To the extent that this is even broadly correct, it also necessarily follows that the implied reader already takes a view of the NT texts as authoritative (70)
  • Almost invariably, the implied readers are ecclesially situated (71)
  • Finally, the implied reader is evidently assumed to be “inspired” in the sense of Spirit filled [and I would add different than in the sense of the author’s inspiration] (72)

He then concludes by saying that “the texts appear to envisage a reader who freely explores certain lines of interpretation while avoiding others. There is a sense in which these texts already presuppose something akin to Lectio Divina” (73).

I think this is a helpful summary of what the NT implies about the individuals reading it, but again, I’m only a chapter into Bockmuehl’s book. I’m actually reading it as a precursor to Simon Peter In Scripture And Memory: The New Testament Apostle in The Early Church since he mentions there he is presenting an application of his method in Seeing the Word.

Do you think Bockmuehl accurately captures what the NT implies about its readers?

Better yet, does this description fit you?


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I’m an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let’s connect!

One response to Are You An Implied Reader of The New Testament?

  1. I think the Jew/Gentile audience distinction was also a factor to the original authors. Depending on which group their audience was shaped or inspired the book in many cases. Matthew traditionally has a Jewish focus. Luke/Acts a Gentile one. Pauline stuff usually goes more Gentile; while Hebrews and the epistles after carry a more Jewish theme (notably Hebrews, James, and Peter’s books, where Jews are explicitly addressed in the greeting or content).

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