Structural Semiotics 5
Differences and similarities between semiotic and exegetical preaching 7
Importance of Semiotics in the Bible 9
Importance of exegesis in Bible 10
Proper use of semiotic in effective preaching 11
The art of preaching using semiotics
In the religious context, preaching is the duty of every person who has belief in God and scriptures. Some people accept this duty and leave their homes to preach in the way of God; those people are called preachers. It is quite difficult to change anyone thought and put your own thought in his mind, but not impossible. People think that religions are outdated, and the scriptures were written centuries ago. In this era, parching is difficult, but if one adopts a modern way to logically explaining and providing evidence, he may succeed in the mission. People need reasons and proofs, if one is providing enough evidence, preaching can bring fruitful results. This paper describes all these facts in a detailed way. Further, this paper defines semiotics, exegesis, and structural semiotics. Differences and similarities between semiotics and exegesis and the importance of both in the bible are also defined in this paper. Finally, the paper includes an explanation of the proper use of semiotics for effective preaching.
Semiotics is a field that studies different signs to make out a sense of those signs. It is the study of every aspect that is related to meaningful communication that uses signs. It includes semiosis, likeness, symbolism, analogy, and other related aspects. Linguistics is the study of meaning and structure of languages and semiotics is related to linguistics. Making people understand with the help of signs and symbols is more effective in the sense of semiotic tradition. Linguistics is just related to spoken language; however, semiotics is also used to study non-linguistics signs. Normally, there are three branches of semiotics, the first one is called Semantics that studies signs and their related things or signified denotata. The second one is called Syntactics that studies the formal structures to identify the relation of signs to each other. The third one is Pragmatics that helps identifying the connection between signs and sign using agents.
Modern linguistics scholars have found that words do not convey the real meaning of any sense or physical thing that may be living or non-living. If anyone says word rabbit, it means the person is trying to convey the picture of that small, furry herbivore to another person. It has nothing to do with words, letter or signs. The main theme of the talk is a rabbit that is an animal, a physical thing; therefore, words are just a way to convey a message. Rabbit is a common animal that everybody may have seen, but what if a person says a hybrid car, one that does not have an idea what the hybrid car. This will create hindrance in the conveyance of meaning and for this purpose semiotics is considered the best way to convey a message by using signs.
Exegesis is a field of study that explains or interprets any text specifically religious text critically. It is an approach to knowing the historical or the real meaning of the text that was taken at the time when the text was written. The term exegesis was primarily used with Biblical work to interpret it and understand its meaning, but nowadays it can be used in a broader sense. To limit the sense "biblical exegesis" is used in the modern era. It is a field of critical disciplines that deal with critical explanation and interpretation of any text. Textual criticism is one of the disciplines, and it deals with the investigation of text into the history in order to find the historical and cultural perspectives of the text. The real meaning that author wanted to convey, the original audience for whom the text was written and other aspects that help understanding the real sense of the text. The exegesis is also used to classify the literary genres that are used in a textual work and analyze the grammatical and syntactical characteristics of the text.
Exegesis is a method or approach that is used by religious leader and preachers to preach audience by reading verses. They try to convince people and enable them to understand the real meaning of the passage. Focusing on historical and contextual meaning of words exegesis explains and interprets the message from scriptures. This approach has been used by people for several years, and most of them take it easier to preach.
Human beings are blessed with a sense that carries out meaning from everything. All human beings interpret everything and live accordingly. The interpretations and meanings are driven with the help of signs. Signs are the means of making sense of everything while communicating; they sometimes become images, indicators, and sounds and sometimes actions, emotions, and flavors. A model that provides a systematic understating to structural semiotics includes two parts. The first one is called "signifier" or "significant", it is the form of the sign that is used to convey the message or perception about a particular concept or physical thing. The second one is “signified” or “signifié” that is the main concept itself, which is defined with the help of sign. If a person asks, “How do you go to your office?” the other may reply, “by a bus." Here the second person tries to convey the sense that he uses the bus to travel. Here word bus is a signifier, and the bus itself is signified.
The sign is the main theme that is defined with by signifier and signified. These both parts work together to allow a person understand the sign. The relation between both of them is called signification. If a shop is open for the customers, the shopkeeper just puts a board or tag with the word “open.” Just reading the word "open", people understand that they shop is operational, and they can do shopping. Here the word "open" is a signifier, and the concept that shop is open for customers is signified.
Structural learning and teaching processes always include cognitive functioning and reasoning. Semiotics is the approach that closely fits into the structural process, because it deals with signs and identifies their real purpose. It is the process that reasoning and cognitive functioning involve. Combining these both approaches structural semiotics can offer all services that are needed to understand any topic reasonably. It provides a new way to understand scriptures and their real essence. Understanding values and norms of culture and interpreting the context help preachers to convey the message easily. Structural semiotics can be said the best approach toward preaching because it can describe the meaning of verses according to their real concepts, not text.
Differences and similarities between semiotic and exegetical preaching
Semiotic preaching is the way to uses exegesis approach to understanding not only word and principles but images and stories as well. Every story and event in the scripture has its own history and context, exegetical preaching just tries to know that history and context; however, semiotic preaching focuses on signs. Understanding signifier and signified help a lot to understand and preach the essence of scriptures.
Exegetical preaching is a method that follows verse by verse preaching. It explains and interprets every verse and sometimes every part of the verse in its original historical context. It focuses on the main essences of the verses and scriptures rather than the intention of the audience. It is followed by most of the preachers and religious leaders to use the verses as a basis of their preaching and satisfy people by providing true and exact evidence from the Scripture. On the other hand, semiotic preaching uses the same method but in a different way. The exegetical approach has been followed for several years, but this new semiotic approach gives a new understanding of those old-age stories and images. Semiotic preaching describes narrative metaphors (narraphors) in a way that is easy to understand for common people. It somehow gives birth to a new tradition of understanding and defining the scriptural concepts such as storytelling. This narraphoric approach to preaching helps preachers to interpret the verses in a creative way that is easier to understand for people.
Exegetical preaching is a basic method that most of the preachers follow; it observes that what the main theme of the passage is. Then interprets the meaning of the passage and correlates it with all other events in the scripture. Finally, finds the impact of the application of the passage, what affects can result from the passage on anyone's life. On the hand, semiotic preaching focuses the audience and tries to provide them with an easy and comprehensive message from the passage that they can easily understand. The narraphoric preaching attacks the unconscious by breaking the resistance and results in the achievement of the main goal. Thus, the audience understands the real face of life and enters in the world of truth. Semiotic preaching enables the audience to think in a different way and understand the real meaning of life. Those who participate in preach with a sound and unbiased mind, surely accept the truth and start modifying their lives according to the requirement of the verses.
Both exegetical and semiotic preaching focus on audience and use scriptures to preach rather than using topics to convey messages. Both of these initially focus to understand the essence of verses and the passage. The exegetical approach focuses on historical aspects, while, the semiotic approach focuses on sign – signifier and signified. The exegetical approach works with words and linguistics while semiotic approach uses images and concepts to understand and convey the message.
Importance of Semiotics in the Bible
Translation or interpretation of any concept really needs something easy and comprehensive. A method or approach that can explain the message as the audience can understand it easily. Semiotics is a study of signs; it explains and interprets the real meaning of and the relation among signs. Various parts of Bible include signs, and those signs need a proper explanation. Semiotics is the only way that includes various steps to understand the real meaning and explain it logically that no one can deny it. Semiotics examines and investigates everything separately either it is a word or a sentence, a part of the body or entire body. Keeping the sense of the text or signs in mind, semiotics strives to drive out the real sense. Anything can be a sign if it points to another thing, or it gives meaning or sense of any other concept. These signs cannot be understood directly, and so the case is with Bible. Common people cannot comprehend with the Bible that is highly rich with different concepts and signs. For a sign, it is not necessary that it must be a single letter, a word or an artistic design; it can be anything such as a word, a sentence, a picture or an indication. At first, it is difficult to identify which is the sign and to what does it point. With the help of semiotics, it is easy to break the sign down into parts and examine its characteristics that whether it qualifies as a sign or not. After identifying signs, the signification will be examined by looking for signifier and signified. These all processes make it clear that semiotics is a very important tool to interpret and explain Biblical concepts. For every scripture or text, it is necessary to be interpreted in an understandable language; therefore, semiotics can be considered necessary for the Bible.
Semiotics has three branches, and each of them can put separate efforts to explain the concept of Bible. Semantics deals with signs and their relation with other things; it can help explaining the basic concept of any text or verse. The main purpose and relation of the verse to a particular context and its message to common people can easily be driven out. Syntactics deals with the relation of signs to each other; there may be many events that relate to each other. Signs defined in two consecutive verses may have a relation with each other and Syntactics is the branch that can help explaining that relation. After identification of signs, their relation to other things as well as to other signs, Pragmatics deals with who are the agent and why does him use these signs. Considering all these capabilities and process of semiotics everyone can say that it is a very important tool to interpret and explain the scriptural concepts.
Importance of exegesis in Bible
Exegesis studies the historical and contextual background of an event to explain and interpret its real meaning. Bible is not a contemporary book; therefore, one must understand the historical context in which its verses were written. The situation and circumstances that the writer felt and the actual sense that the writer wanted to convey, these all things are necessary to interpret the real meaning of Biblical verses. Preachers get it their important duty to convey the message of Bible to every man on the earth and for this purpose, they must first understand themselves the real concept. There may be various places where a verse may have two concepts, or an event is not clear to the interpreter. The exegesis approach provides the helpful hand to get the real meaning and essence of the event as well as verse according to the historical context. Exegesis has a great importance in preaching the scriptures because it is necessary to interpret the scriptures in the right way. Distorting the meaning of Scripture can bring out harmful results.
A preacher must understand every concept and each step clearly, because he has to go to preaching other people. Exegesis is not necessary for preaching, but understanding and preaching is impossible without understanding. There are many requirements for a person to become preacher such as he should remain silent while interpreting the scripture. He must understand the real essence of the scripture and first follow it. Various other things may be required, but, first of all, is interpretation. The preacher would be able to preach if he comprehends with all necessary instructions. Using exegesis, he may find new pearls in the sea of scripture with the help of daily interpretation. Those who interpret the scripture in a right way are reward with the unshakeable assurance of the apostle Paul. Exegesis is the way to becoming rich with more and more such pearls. It is the exegesis that enables a person to confess what is taught and remain stuck to the words of God.
Proper use of semiotic in effective preaching
Changing the prevailing idea in mind or put own ideas in others’ mind is world’s most difficult task. At first, nobody has time to listen to you, and if anybody has, he will probably not accept what you are trying to make him or her accept. In such a complex and difficult era, when one goes out for preaching, he must be equipped with enough authentic logical explanations to satisfy others. In this regard, the semiotic approach can help to preach more effectively.
Preachers, who just read the scriptures and start preaching, face various difficulties. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to prove an argument logically; however, the thing is mentioned in scriptures, but the preacher is not prepared enough to face counter questions. Sometimes, despite having an explanation, one remains unable to satisfy others because the explanation has not enough logical evidence. Thus, efforts bring no fruit and it results in wastage of times, money and efforts. In this connection, one must refer to a semiotic approach to understanding every aspect of the text of scripture. Semiotics studies every aspect of the text to explain and interpret it logically, and it is the reason to get help from this approach.
A preacher should review the scripture and try to focus on one topic at a time. Evaluating each of the verses that relate to the topic using semiotics would enable the preacher to understand the meaning more clearly. In this way, he would be able to describe every aspect of each of the verses logically and can make any people satisfy. Changing the thought is difficult, but what a preacher can do is providing enough evidence; the rest depends upon the person's thought. It is the proper use of semiotics to preach more effectively. Using this approach will bring out more ways to understand the context more clearly and use semiotics in different ways.
Semiotics studies the signs and their real meaning. Preaching is a method to call people towards your faith. There are various sign and events in the Bible that need to be understood clearly in order to preach others. In this regard, semiotics is the best tool to understand real meaning and sense of the text. Exegesis is also a good approach to understanding historical and contextual background of the text. Semiotics uses exegesis to understand signs in depth; it is a very important way for preachers to understand the context and background of verses along with real meaning.
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