Have been following this series of posts by Witherington over at Patheos.
In his latest he makes the following challenge:
The contexts of the Word of God are in many ways very different from ours, and if one reads the Bible without contextual study one will read it anachronistically— reading into the text modern notions, and one’s own opinions and ideas. Frankly God’s Word deserve more respect than that. If it is the most important book in the world for the world’s salvation then it deserves careful and prayerful detailed study of it. It deserves everything we can invest in understanding it and conveying its meaning to others. One of the main things that gets in the way of this whole process is the desire to get to the applications and implications before one has figured out the meaning of the text in the first place. But whether one likes it or not, in order to win the homiletical race one has to commit oneself to the whole race. This means not being tempted to take short cuts to the finish line.
One of the analogies we have used in our training videos is shown below:
The application is the last step at on the top of the cake! It can only stand safely and firmly on a solid foundation of interpretation which comes thorough observations.