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THE SONGS OF ASCENTS: A DECENTRALISED HERMENEUTIC FOR EVANGELICAL SPIRITUAL FORMATION

THE SONGS OF ASCENTS: A DECENTRALISED HERMENEUTIC FOR EVANGELICAL SPIRITUAL FORMATION

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Published by John Douglas
Several exegetical schools have viewed the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) as pilgrim hymnal; describing their environment of use within Jerusalem festival. This perspective engages debate concerning wether they should be interpreted as expectation (pilgrim journey) or participation (festival liturgy), “is or was there a generalised context hermeneutic applied in the pre-Christian Hebrew usage?” An interpretative understanding which invested spiritual reflection, and meaning into the pilgrims/worshippers interpersonal and corporate spiritual formation through participation in festival. This paper will move from that question to explore the notion of developing several context hermeneutics, and pose the possibility of how “context reflection” and the use of the images in the texts could facilitate interpersonal and corporate spiritual formation amongst conservative evangelical faith communities. Part of this paper will consider the praxis (or potential propensity) of shifting primary exegesis from text toward an exegesis of both interpretation and application.
Several exegetical schools have viewed the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) as pilgrim hymnal; describing their environment of use within Jerusalem festival. This perspective engages debate concerning wether they should be interpreted as expectation (pilgrim journey) or participation (festival liturgy), “is or was there a generalised context hermeneutic applied in the pre-Christian Hebrew usage?” An interpretative understanding which invested spiritual reflection, and meaning into the pilgrims/worshippers interpersonal and corporate spiritual formation through participation in festival. This paper will move from that question to explore the notion of developing several context hermeneutics, and pose the possibility of how “context reflection” and the use of the images in the texts could facilitate interpersonal and corporate spiritual formation amongst conservative evangelical faith communities. Part of this paper will consider the praxis (or potential propensity) of shifting primary exegesis from text toward an exegesis of both interpretation and application.

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Published by: John Douglas on Jan 05, 2011
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01/13/2012

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The Songs of Ascents: adecentralisedhermeneutic forevangelical spiritualformation
Paper presented to the 2007 Annual meeting of  Aotearoa/New Zealand Association of Biblical Studies(ANZABS) at Christchurch, New Zealand 
 
John C. Douglas12/4/2007
 
1
Abstract
Several exegetical schools have viewed the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) as pilgrim hymnal; describing their environment of use within Jerusalem festival. This perspective engages debate concerning whether they should be interpreted as expectation(pilgrim journey) or participation (festival liturgy),
“is or was there a generalised context 
hermeneutic applied in the pre-
Christian Hebrew usage?”
An interpretative understandingwhich invested spiritual reflection, and meaning into the pilgrims/worshippers interpersonaland corporate spiritual formation through participation in festival. This paper will movefrom that question to explore the notion of developing several context hermeneutics, and posethe possibility of how
―context reflection‖ and
the use of the images in the texts couldfacilitate interpersonal and corporate spiritual formation amongst conservative evangelicalfaith communities. Part of this paper will consider the praxis (or potential propensity) of shifting primary exegesis from text toward an exegesis of both interpretation and application.John C. Douglas jcd@sage.ac.nz December 2007The meeting
s full schedule of presented papers can be viewed athttp://anzabs.blogspot.com/ 
 
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“The Songs of Ascents: a decentralised hermeneutic for
e
vangelical spiritual formation”
 
 A paper presented by John C. Douglas at ANZABS 2007 Conference, Auckland, New Zealand 
Paul offers this paper background when he defines, ―
all Scripture as God-breathedand is useful for the formation of faith (teaching, rebuking, correcting and training inrighteousness)
1
. In so doing he is commending the broad value of First Testament canon tothe young faith community. In this paper I humbly (and nervously) propose the samecommendation through some hermeneutical consideration in the Songs of Ascents to thegrowing field of evangelical spiritual formation.In view of our title, I will now proceed by considering the views of several exegeticalschools of thought
2
regarding the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) as pilgrim hymnal;including describing their use-environment within Jerusalem festival. This group of Psalmsform the collection known as the "Songs of Ascents," which in turn is a major part of theGreat Hallel psalms (120-136). An exact meaning of the designation, "songs of ascents" isunclear, whether they are name as the former or as "Pilgrim Songs," "Song of Degrees," or "Gradual Psalms."
3
However the ascent identification rests primarily in the superscription to
each psalm in the collection, with a secondary contribution being ascent as the ―going up to
Jerusalem (which stands high above the sea level and much of the land of Israel)
4
of the
 pilgrims.‖ T
he consideration of these perspectives will engage a limited weighing up of 
1
II Timothy 3:16
2
 
In the early Christian period two main ―schools‖ dominated. Antioch School of Exegesis, the
theological institution in Syria, traditionally founded in about CE200, stressed the literal interpretation of thescriptures and the completeness of Christ's humanity, in opposition to the Exegetical School of Alexandriawhich emphasized the allegorical interpretation of the scriptures and stressed Christ's divinity. See page 8. 
3
VanGemeran, Willem A.
 Psalms in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
Ed. Gaebelein, Frank E.(volume 5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.p.256.
4
See Matthew 20:17 cf Psalms 24:3; 122:4 for described or implied geographic going-up.

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