Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.
This was a convicting quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the "Ministry of Listening" in his book, Life Together:
The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God's love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brothers when we learn to listen to him...
Brotherly pastoral care is essentially distinguished from preaching by the fact that, added to the task of speaking the Word, there is the obligation of listening. There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person. This is no fulfillment of our obligation, and it is certain that here too our attitude toward our brother only reflects our relationship to God.
I am really enjoying Ed Hirsch, Jr.'s Validity in Interpretation. It's not a Christian book, but it is about hermeneutics in general. It really gets to the heart of what meaning and interpretation are. And that can only be helpful when applied to Biblical texts.
Hirsch reminds us that interpretation is an art:
A translation or paraphrase tries to render the meaning in new terms; an explanation tries to point to the meaning in new terms. That is why interpretation, like translation, is an art, for the interpreter has to find means of conveying to the uninitiated, in terms familiar to them, those presuppositions and meanings which are equivalent to those in the original meaning.Even as I think about this in the context of teaching (which relies on paraphrase), I realize that finding ways which draw on the student's presuppositions and pre-understandings is something very challenging.