Posts Tagged ‘Hermeneutics’

Theology: Where do we begin?

Attached are the slides for Prolegomenon and an Intro to Hermeneutics for the SysTheo classes at CCS. If you have never thought deeply about hermeneutics (The Science and Art of Biblical Interpretation), then check out the slides. They are based on Howard Hendricks’ book, Living by the Book. For a Christian, not having a good foundation in Hermeneutics is like a Doctor not having a good foundation in Anatomy and Physiology. Think about it . . .

Intro to Herm

Bibliology

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DailyTheocentrism: The difference between us and the Bible: the Bible = Two Authors; Us = only one

Had a great talk with a brother over hermeneutics this morning and we talked about everything from the need to read, read, read the Bible to interpret properly, to senses plenoir, to Christ in the Old Testament, to Riceour’s thesis that Life is a Text. Good morning.

As we discussed, we talked about our utter dependence on the Scriptural content, because it is unique in a Holy-Spirit-Authored existence. God’s intent was sure before there was history, before people, before us, before me. So, in His self-revelation, there are truths that make time look useless and it (the Bible) is as living and fresh today as it has always been. This does not relieve the difficulty of handling it well, in it’s proper context(s), but does provide assurance of veracity as well as guidance in meaning.

God is our maker, our holder, our revelation, our revealer, our teacher, life . . . our author.

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The Pulse of the Blogosphere: Being Better Bereans – DeYoung

A couple weeks ago, Trevin Wax posted a short list of urban legends frequently heard from the pulpit. These aren’t doctrinal mistakes per se. They are mistakes in interpretation, especially when it comes to appropriate background information and extra-biblical sources. Some of the myths are real whoppers (e.g., NASA has discovered a missing day), but others are repeated in study Bibles and commentaries (e.g., Gehenna was a burning trash dump). I admit I’ve repeated the last example many times. And while Trevin didn’t give a lot of information to counter that claim, the article he linked to makes a lot of sense. Maybe the “trash heap” illustration was too good to be true.

So how can we be better Bereans? Most Christians are eager to receive the word, especially when we get new insights and background information, but how many go the extra step and examine the Scripture to see if the new nugget is actually true ()? Here are a few things to keep in mind when we hear an exciting new teaching or connection:

1. Be wary of anyone who claims to have uncovered the real meaning from the Greek or Hebrew. We have so many good English translations, put together by the best scholars. If your pastor or favorite author comes up with stuff they never did, be concerned.

2. Ask yourself, “how do I know this is so?” True, we all take a lot on faith, trusting the books we read and the people we listen to. But if you come across a new insight you’ve never heard, examine what primary source evidence there is for this new claim. You may think the Bible says a lot about Lucifer, but it may be really be from John Milton.

3. Beware of parallelomania! This is where a lot of Christians get into trouble. They are over-eager to make connections between the Bible and the Roman world. Yes, background information is helpful. But some popular teachers find connections everywhere. Do we really know that Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” was meant to be an assault on the worship of Pan near Caesarea Philippi? Often a possible connection is too good to pass up as preaching fodder. The results are predictable: the teacher presents amazing new background information and the people are amazed at the insights they’ve never heard before. Preachers, resist the temptation to put preaching points before exegesis and historical accuracy.

4. Be careful not to overcompensate. With all the good historical work N.T. Wright has done on the gospels, I often feel  he is too quick to find political implications in familiar stories and too quick to make the narrative fit a return-from-exile theme. Many Christians have the habit of reading the Bible as a timeless book of ancient wisdom. That’s not right, but there’s an opposite danger, and that’s trying to make every story a subversive attempt to undermine Caesar.

5. Be concerned when you start to feel like you can’t possibly understand the Bible without multiple degrees. It does take skill to interpret many parts of the Bible, and background information can help. But if all the exciting things you’re learning fall in the category of “insights from ancient languages” or “insights from ancient culture” you could be heading down the wrong path.

6. Be extremely cautious when using Jewish sources. Christians love to hear about Jewish background. They love to learn what words or phrases really mean. But we must be careful. I use Jewish background on occasion. Just this week I preached on the Last Supper and talked about the Passover ritual. But I’m always cautious to do so. Consider:

a) Most of our “Jewish background” comes from the Mishna and Talmud which are centuries after the New Testament. Some of what they record was present in the first century, but it’s hard to be certain.

b) Whether we are using sources from Second Temple Judaism or from the Mishna, we shouldn’t be confident in our ability to recreate the Jewish world. That world was diverse and there is a lot we don’t know.

c) Don’t assume Jewish practices today reflect Jesus’ world. And don’t read back into the Old Testament what we first hear about centuries after Christ.

7. Realize that we all make mistakes. We hear things and read things that we later find out aren’t true. Be open to correction and ready to admit when you make a mistake. The goal is simply to know the Bible better. What have Bereans got to lose?

On Being Better Bereans

By: Kevin DeYoung

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11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (ESV)

AskRob: Question on the use of Scripture for “Life Verses”

Question:

I need to understand in detail how to use Gods word correctly for hope, strength and encouragement. I know you mentioned about how some life verses are not verses to use for life verses. The verse that keeps me going and full of hope is . I use this verse because it reminds me that there is a bigger picture and that I need to press on till the end. 
So how do we use Gods word for encouragement and hope?

I know that I have though about this question too long and I have just determined that this will be one that I will think about for years and revise my understanding of it along the way. For now, let me give you my thoughts on it.

As we think about using verses of Scripture – for any purpose – it is assumed that the Scripture has a purpose and is to be used. Both of these premises are absolutely true. () The question is how and how much? By this I mean, what is the purpose of Scripture and how are we to use it?

Well, let’s start with some other premises:

– Scripture is vast an contains a lot of verses, books and content

– It is implied that since we have a book full of stuff that He wants us to use all the Book

– It has a primary purpose of revealing God to us –

– We know that knowing God correctly is the very most important thing in our lives

– There is always four contexts to every passage – thought, book/author, testament, Bible

These are just a few important thoughts that get me to this point:

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And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (ESV)

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

Wow! Bruce Waltke and theistic Evolution

Bruce Waltke, the recently resigned prof from Reformed Theological Seminary – now at Knox Theological Seminary – does some fancy soft-shoeing after being recorded and posted in his views FOR theistic Evolution. Look here for a closer primary source on this issue and here for Justin Taylor’s much-more-expanded-than-mine blog.

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