Fortress Press

Cultural Interpretations: Reorienting New Testament Criticism

Cultural Interpretations

Reorienting New Testament Criticism

Brian K. Blount (Author)


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Building on insights into the social functions of language, especially its interpersonal dimensions, Blount constructs a culturally sensitive model of interpretation that provides a sound basis for ethnographic and popular, as well as historical-critical, readings of the biblical text.

Blount's framework does more than acknowledge the inevitability of multiple interpretations; it foments them. His analysis demonstrates the social intent of every reading and shows the influence of communicative context in such diverse readings of the Bible as Rudolf Bultmann's, the peasants of Solentiname, the Negro spirituals, and black-church sermons. Then Blount turns to Mark's account of the trial of Jesus, where he shows how this hermeneutical scheme helps to assess the emergence and validity of multiple readings of the text and the figure of Jesus.

Blount's expansive interpretive proposal will help scholars and students open up the possibilities of the text without abandoning it.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • ISBN 9780800628598
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232
  • Dimensions 8.5 x 5.5
  • Publication Date December 14, 1995


"A well-conceived, thoroughly researched, and elegantly written work, Cultural Interpretation establishes Blount as a sophisticated voice with new provocative challenges for church, academy, and culture. As a demonstration of the power of sociolinguistics for 'de-centering' and establishing the cultural variability of biblical interpretation, his book has far-reaching ramifications for biblical scholarship….Required reading for all serious students of the Bible."
— Vincent L. Wimbush
Union Theological Seminary, New York City

Table of Contents


  1. A Contextual Approach to New Testament Interpretation

    PART ONE: Cultural Contexts and Biblical Interpretation

  2. Existential Interpretation
  3. The Gospel in Solentiname
  4. The Negro Spiritual
  5. The Sermon in the Black Church

    PART TWO: Interpreting the Trial of Jesus in Mark

  6. Potential Meaning in Mark's Trial Scenes
  7. Jesus the Redeemer
  8. Jesus the Tragic Hero
  9. Jesus the Revolutionary
  10. Jesus, Man of the People
  11. Beyond Interpretative Boundaries