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Trajectory hermeneutics


davidtrump
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Trajectory hermeneutics or redemptive-movement hermeneutics (RMH) is a hermeneutical approach that seeks to locate varying 'voices' in the text and to view these voices as a progressive trajectory through history (or at least through the biblical witness); often a trajectory that progresses through to the present day. The contemporary reader of Scripture is in some way envisaged by the biblical text as standing in continuity with a developing theme therein. The reader, then, is left to discern this trajectory and appropriate it accordingly.

William J. Webb employed such a hermeneutic, in his Slaves, Women & Homosexuals. Webb shows how the moral commands of the Old and New Testament were a significant improvement over the surrounding cultural values and practices. Webb identified 18 different ways in which God dealt with his people moving against the current of popular cultural values. While for Webb the use of this hermeneutic moves to highlight the progressive liberation of women and slaves from oppressive male/bourgeois dominance, the prohibition of homosexual acts consistently moves in a more conservative manner than that of the surrounding Ancient Near East or Graeco-Roman societies. While Paul does not explicitly state that slavery should be abolished, the trajectory seen in Scripture is a progressive liberation of slaves. When this is extended to modern times, it implies that the biblical witness supports the abolition of slavery. The progressive liberation of women from oppressive patriarchalism, traced from Genesis and Exodus through to Paul's own acknowledgement of women as 'co-workers' (Rom. 16:3), sets a precedent that when applied to modern times suggests that women ought to have the same rights and roles afforded to men. Historically, the biblical witness has become progressively more stringent in its views of homosexual practice and the implications of this are not commented upon by Webb.

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