Thursday, December 01, 2016

The more things change...

Those who live in the biblical history and locate their own time in it will regard the books of the biblical prophets as scripture that directly concerns them and their own time. As we have already seen, this is how the hermeneutical rules of the “Teacher of Righteousness” understood things in the pesher on the Book of Habakkuk. Thus, it would be strange if the interpretations in the pesharim had no substantial relationship to their biblical original whatsoever, apart from catchwords and other technical interpretive links. This question emerges especially in our example from the pesher on Nahum, where the external enemies of the seventh century B.C.E., Nineveh and No-Amon, are understood in relation to the Israelite powers, Ephraim and Manasseh, that correspond to the community’s contemporary enemies within Israel and Judah in the first century B.C.E.—The Prophets of Israel, page 101

<idle musing>
Of course, we could apply the same logic to some (most?) interpretations of scripture in the 21st century, couldn't we? And that's why a Christocentric hermeneutic is so important! If the Bible is all about Jesus (and as a Christian, I believe it is), then we should make Jesus the center of our hermeneutic.

Of course, how that plays out in our hermeneutics is the rub, isn't it? Which Jesus do we use as the model? The incarnate, cruciform one in the Gospels, Acts, and most of the Epistles? Or the triumphant, conquering king of Revelation? Of course, I would argue that the conquering king is really the lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. But, others take the triumphant messiah as their starting point and reinterpret all the servant/cruciform stuff through the militaristic lens. And so, in some ways, we are back to square one, aren't we?

This is really about one's presuppositions, not about scripture at all. But it influences—actually, it controls—our interpretation of scripture. If I start with the presupposition that the U.S. is God's chosen vessel (and a holy one, too), then I will interpret scripture much differently than if I start with the presupposition that, yes, God uses the U.S. in the world, but it is not God's chosen nation—unless you want to say that it is chosen in the same way that God chose Assyria—and then judged her when she overstepped her bounds (see Habakkuk).

Just another
</idle musing>

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