Towards a Pastoral Approach for the Synoptic Problem: Rereading of the Gadarene Demoniac Story with Selected Seventh-Day Adventist Churches in Musoma Town Tanzania
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The first three gospels in the New Testament give their records in a similar way of expression, content and structure; These Gospels however, differ in some details hence bring the existence of the similarities and differences. which have been called the Synoptic Problem. Based on this problem, various scholars have come up with theories from different parts of the world to find OU! a solution. The purpose of this study was to develop a Pastoral approach for the Synoptic Problem, a simplified approach of studying the Synoptic Gospels with Church members. This study was done in Musoma town Tanzania to help Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) members harmonize betweentheir belief on trustworthiness of the word of God and the differences and similarities which emerge in the story of Gadarene demoniac in the Synoptic Gospel. The following objectives guided this study; To investigate SDA's presupposition of the reading the Bible in Musoma town, to assess the local members understanding of the differences and similarities in the Gadarene demoniac story in the Synoptic Gospels among SDA members in Musoma town, and to analyze a pastoral approach for the differences and similarities in the Gadarene demoniac story in the Synoptic Gospel among SDA members in Musoma town. The research design employed qualitative approach. The researcher used contextual Bible Study theory to re-read the Gadarene demoniac story with 376 participants. Instruments for data collection were interviews and focus group discussions whereby 368 church members were divided to 46 Focus Groups Discussions with 8 members per each group, four Pastors were put in one session of Focus Group Discussion and four church leaders were interviewed separately in their offices. The researcher did a Biblical exegesis for the linkage of SDA church context and Biblical context. Data, was presented according to the different views of church members, Pastors andchurch . leaders and was finally analyzed into themes. Research finding shows that, SDA church in Musoma believes that ,writers who had different education, background and personality were inspired by thoughts which did not limit them to visit other sources. They were led to compose their canonical gospels focusing on the need of their audiences. Therefore, the pastoral approach analyzes that the writing process made them focus (In specific issues which in turn affected their style, form, rhythm, occurrences, inclusion and vocabulary of each presenter and finally differences and similarities came upon their canonical gospels. Further study of the pastoral approach for the Synoptic Problem in the scope of other denominations and relationship between inspiration and the free use of intellectual knowledge of Biblical authors are recommended.