Pentecostal hermeneutics: How do Swedish Pentecostal preachers interpret the Bible?
In this article I present a study of Swedish Pentecostal preachers’ interpretations and applications of biblical texts. The study is based on 19 sermons that were published on the website “Söndag hela veckan”, January 19, 2020, by churches with “Pingst” (Pentecostal) in their name. The aim of the study was to contribute to the field of Pentecostal hermeneutics through an analysis of interpretative patterns in present day preachers’ sermons. The study shows that the preachers address a putative desire for a more devoted Christian life and that they do not practice exegetics in the sense of making historical readings searching for the original authors’ intention. Instead they apply the texts to the present here and now, thereby bringing the texts from them to us. This is done by means of generalizations, abstractions, and analogies in the form of parables and narratives. In this way the studied preachers endeavor to encourage and challenge their listeners to continue searching for the richer Christian life they long for. In relation to previous studies, I claim that the studied sermons constitute a special act of interpretation that cannot be compared with academic exegetics. I also suggest that the hermeneutics in the sermons cannot be described as narrative or, for example, poststructuralist. There are some marginal similarities with interpretations of fiction, but the sermons can on the whole be described as “a distinctive interpretive activity”. The message of the sermons is consistent with previous descriptions of Pentecostal theology, except that the preachers do not emphasize the story of the Pentecostal movement and, more remarkably, that traditional eschatology hardly has any place in the sermons.
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