Reflections on the Practice of Missional Hermeneutics: 'Streaming' Philippians 1:20-30

Whereas previous work in these sessions has centered on a variety of hermeneutical prolegomena related to reading texts missionally, the upcoming session in November is dedicated to missional interpretations of a specific text, namely, Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In this paper I have chosen to explore and reflect exegetically on Philippians 1:20-30, a text that regularly appears in lectionaries across ecclesial traditions. The choice of a lectionary passage is quite intentional; it will help me to explore the potential import of approaching texts from a missional vantage point if I am challenged to use a passage that preachers and teachers are often called upon to explore themselves. Using a lectionary text may make it somewhat easier to highlight what, if any, difference a “missional” reading makes for interpreters. The paper seeks to reflect on each of the four streams identified by Hunsberger in 2008 (http://gocn.org/resources/articles/proposals-missional-hermeneutic-mapping-conversation), in effect testing them out to see how they might play out in practice. The goal of the paper is not so much to argue for one stream over against another. Rather, the paper seeks to touch on all four streams in order to consider more closely the viability of this overall notion that is being described as missional hermeneutics. Given that this the first time that the papers in the session have addressed a particular biblical text per se, the conclusions drawn will necessarily be rather tentative and suggestive, and framed so as to encourage further conversation and exploration.