This study was motivated by a crisis in Biblical hermeneutics within postmodernity. Within postmodernity the Bible is no longer read for various reasons and therefore it has become inaccessible for many people although they own a Bible. The Biblical world is too ‘strange’ and therefore for many people it has lost its relevance to today’s challenges and daily struggles. The problem of interpretation and understanding becomes even more complicated with a book like the Revelation of John where the message is hidden behind culturally and historically conditioned symbols and metaphors. There are numerous interpretations and commentaries available to help explain these books, but through these explanations and interpretations much of the narrative and literary affect of these writings is lost. There are however books, such as J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which have a tremendous impact on millions of readers throughout the world. Tolkien’s book together with the Revelation of John, have deeply inspired me as books of comfort and strength in times of trial. The questions arose whether these two books can be compared, and secondly, whether a well-loved book like The Lord of the Rings, can be used to help readers to enter the world of a wonderful biblical book like Revelation? These two questions could not be answered with a simple comparative study, but needed to be asked within a theological hermeneutical framework which led to the hypotheses of this study: It is hermeneutically and theologically justifiable to make use of secondary, non-biblical literature which is comparable in its intent, genre, theological perspective, characters and plot, as a hermeneutical tool with which to elucidate and gain access to primary biblical literature. It was in the search for an appropriate hermeneutic which is theologically justifiable that I discovered the narrative-critical approach. The search for a hermeneutical approach which would create the necessary space for a non-biblical literary work to be used to interpret and elucidate a biblical work raised numerous theological questions, such as questions with regards to scriptural authority and the question of the relationship between revelation and scripture. I reflected on this approach theologically with regards to revelation and the authority of Scripture and discovered that this hermeneutical approach is very appropriate within a postmodern context as it aptly responds to the challenges of postmodernity. The two narratives were described within the narrative-critical approach and then compared with each other using the principle of analogy. It was discovered that these two narratives have enough important similarities with regards to intent, genre, theological perspective, characters and plot, so that the one can be used to illuminate the other. It is the conclusion of this study that the narrative critical approach is a wonderful hermeneutical tool not only to elucidate biblical books, but also to interpret and understand contexts and identity-forming stories and to bring these stories into dialogue with Scripture with the help of secular and contemporary literature where needed.
Thesis (DD (New Testament Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.