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Having just finished our Saturday Weekly Series on Hermeutics and the Covenants, I thought it was good to put all in one location the outlines of all three hermeneutics courses we have on our blog.  Lord willing, sometime in the future I want to make a fourth level hermeneutics course on Logic for Biblical Hermeneutics.

I think it’s important for Christians in terms of spiritual life, practical theology, systematic theology and apologetics to be conscious of our hermeneutics.  To that end, I hope this would be helpful.

LEVEL ONE: INTRODUCTION TO HERMENEUTICS

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session One: Introduction

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Two: How Should We Study Theology? Issues of Sources and Authority

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Three: Doctrine of Special Revelation

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Four: The Doctrine of the Self-Attesting Word of God

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Five: Doctrine of Inerrancy and Ramifications for Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Six: Doctrine of Biblical Clarity

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Seven: The importance of Words and Grammars

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eight: Context Part I: The Immediate Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Nine: Context Part II: The Chapter and Book Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Ten: Context Part III: The Entirety of Scripture

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eleven: The Aid of Natural Revelation in Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Twelve: Hermeneutics and Apologetics

LEVEL TWO: BIBLICAL GENRES (LITERARY FORMS)

SESSION ONE: DEFINITION OF GENRE AND DO THEY EXIST?

SESSION TWO: THE IMPORTANCE OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

SESSION THREE: PROSE I: OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVE

SESSION FOUR: PROSE II: OLD TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE

SESSION FIVE: PROSE III: LAW

SESSION SIX: POETRY I: WHAT IS HEBREW POETRY?

SESSION SEVEN: POETRY II: LAMENT

SESSION EIGHT: POETRY III: PRAISE

SESSION NINE: POETRY IV: PROVERBS

SESSION TEN: POETRY V: OTHER HEBREW WISDOM

SESSION ELEVEN: PROPHECY I: ANNOUNCEMENT OF JUDGEMENT

SESSION TWELVE: PROPHECY II: ORACLE OF SALVATION

SESSION THIRTEEN: PROPHECY III: APOCALYPTIC

SESSION FOURTEEN: NEW TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE/ GOSPELS

SESSION FIFTEEN: EPISTLES

APPENDIX SESSION ONE: PARABLES

APPENDIX SESSION TWO: INTER-RELATIONSHIP OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

a-covenant-with-god

LEVEL THREE: BIBLICAL COVENANTS

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GO TO PART 3

a-covenant-with-god

I. Introduction

a. This covenant is important in Old Testament Hermeneutics.

i.      The Mosaic Covenant is important in understanding what God is doing in different period of the Old Testament, according to the people’s obedience or disobedience of the Covenant’s requirement.

ii.      In a sense, the Mosaic Covenant provides the normative in interpreting the situations in Old Testament history.

Note: The historical narrative and prophetic Genre in Scripture operate as the verification of whether or not one’s hermeneutic has properly interpret the Mosaic Covenant by seeing whether the situational genre cohere with the normative genre.

b, The Content of the Covenant

i.      Mosaic Law

ii.      Blessings and Curses

c. This study will focus on two passages that provides the content of the Covenant in terms of blessings and curses: Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 27-28.

II. Elements

a. Setting

i.      Leviticus 26

1. This is revealed after the Hebrews have been delivered miraculously by God from Egypt.

2. Leviticus 25:44= “For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

 ii.      Deuteronomy 27-28

1. The second presentation of the Law to be remembered before entering the promise land.

2. Deuteronomy 27:1-2= “Then Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, “Keep all the commandments which I command you today.  So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime.”

b. Recipients

i.      Nation of Israel (Leviticus 26:46 and Deuteronomy 27:1)

c. Promise

i.      Blessings (if they keep the commandments)

1. Rain in their seasons (Leviticus 26:3-4; Deuteronomy 28:12)

2. Land yield fruit (Leviticus 26:3-4; Deuteronomy 28:4, 8)

3. Plentiful food (Leviticus 26:5, 10; Deuteronomy 28:5)

4. Peace in the land (Leviticus 26:6)

5. Eliminate harmful beast from the land (Leviticus 26:6)

6. Defeating of enemies (Leviticus 26:7-8; Deuteronomy 28:7)

7. Fruitful and multiply (Leviticus 26:9; Deuteronomy 28:11)

8. God’s presence (Leviticus 26:11-12)

9. Land gets its rest during the captivity in enemy nation (Leviticus 26:34)

10. God’s covenantal faithfulness is not abandoned even in captivity (Leviticus 26:44-45)

11. Set above all the nations 9Deuteronomy 28:1-3, 10, 13)

12. Increase of one’s animals (Deuteronomy 28:4, 11)

13. Lending to other nations, but never borrowing (Deuteronomy 28:12

ii.  Curses (if they disobey the commandments)

1. Fever and sickness (Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:22, 59-62)

2. Land will not produce crop (Leviticus 26:16, 20; Deuteronomy 28: 38-40, 42)

3. Enemies presence and victory (Leviticus 26:16-17, 25, 32; Deuteronomy 28:25-26, 30-33, 48-52)

4. Seven-fold increase of the Lord’s punishment, if not repentant (Leviticus 26:18, 23-24, 28)

5. Humbled (Leviticus 26:19)

6. Plagues (Leviticus 26:21; Deuteronomy 28:59, 61)

7. Beast overtake the land (Leviticus 26:22)

8. Pestilence (Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 28:21)

9. Food not satisfactory (Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:17)

10. Cannibalism (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57)

11. Destruction of idols and altars (Leviticus 26:30, 31)

12.Cities destroyed (Leviticus 26:31, 33; Deuteronomy 28:16)

13. Scattered among the nations (Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:36, 41, 48, 63-68)

14. Terror in captivity (Leviticus 26:36-39)

15. Decrease of one’s animals (Deuteronomy 28:18)

16. Confusion sets in (Deuteronomy 28:20)

17. Fiery heat (Deuteronomy 28:22)

18. Mildew (Deuteronomy 28:22)

19. End of rain (Deuteronomy 28:24)

20. Boils, tumors and scabs (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35)

21. Smite with madness (Deuteronomy 28:28, 34)

22. Blinded (Deuteronomy 28:28-29)

23. Robbed (Deuteronomy 28:29)

24. Dishonored among the nations (Deuteronomy 28:37, 43-44)

25. Forced to borrow from Gentiles (Deuteronomy 28:44)

d. Requirement (Commandments and prohibition)

i.      No idols (Leviticus 26:1, Deuteronomy 27:15)

ii.      Sabbath keeping (Leviticus 26:2)

iii.      Write the law on a lime stone at Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 27:2-4, 8)

iv.      Build an altar for sacrifice to Yahweh in promise land (Deuteronomy 27:5-7)

v.      Prohibited from dishonoring parents (Deuteronomy 27:16)

vi.      Prohibited from moving neighbor’s boundary marker (Deuteronomy 27:17)

vii.      Prohibited from misguiding blind (Deuteronomy 27:18)

viii.      Prohibited from distorting social justice (Deuteronomy 27:19)

ix.      Prohibited from various sexual immorality (Deuteronomy 27:20-23)

x.      Prohibited from striking neighbor secretly (Deuteronomy 27:24)

xi.      Prohibited from accepting bribe to strike an innocent (Deuteronomy 27:25)

e. Signs

Curses themselves: “They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.  Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things…” (Deuteronomy 28:46-47)

GO TO PART 5

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We have just finish posting the outlines for an introductory and genre hermeneutics series I use when I teach on this topic.  For the sake of convenience, I’ve posted the links to both series here.

I think it’s important for Christians in terms of spiritual life, practical theology, systematic theology and apologetics to be conscious of our hermeneutics.  To that end, I hope this would be helpful.

LEVEL ONE: INTRODUCTION TO HERMENEUTICS

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session One: Introduction

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Two: How Should We Study Theology? Issues of Sources and Authority

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Three: Doctrine of Special Revelation

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Four: The Doctrine of the Self-Attesting Word of God

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Five: Doctrine of Inerrancy and Ramifications for Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Six: Doctrine of Biblical Clarity

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Seven: The importance of Words and Grammars

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eight: Context Part I: The Immediate Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Nine: Context Part II: The Chapter and Book Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Ten: Context Part III: The Entirety of Scripture

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eleven: The Aid of Natural Revelation in Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Twelve: Hermeneutics and Apologetics

LEVEL TWO: BIBLICAL GENRES (LITERARY FORMS)

SESSION ONE: DEFINITION OF GENRE AND DO THEY EXIST?

SESSION TWO: THE IMPORTANCE OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

SESSION THREE: PROSE I: OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVE

SESSION FOUR: PROSE II: OLD TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE

SESSION FIVE: PROSE III: LAW

SESSION SIX: POETRY I: WHAT IS HEBREW POETRY?

SESSION SEVEN: POETRY II: LAMENT

SESSION EIGHT: POETRY III: PRAISE

SESSION NINE: POETRY IV: PROVERBS

SESSION TEN: POETRY V: OTHER HEBREW WISDOM

SESSION ELEVEN: PROPHECY I: ANNOUNCEMENT OF JUDGEMENT

SESSION TWELVE: PROPHECY II: ORACLE OF SALVATION

SESSION THIRTEEN: PROPHECY III: APOCALYPTIC

SESSION FOURTEEN: NEW TESTAMENT HISTORICAL NARRATIVE/ GOSPELS

SESSION FIFTEEN: EPISTLES

APPENDIX SESSION ONE: PARABLES

APPENDIX SESSION TWO: INTER-RELATIONSHIP OF GENRE IN INTERPRETATION

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GO TO APPENDIX ONE

I. Introduction

a. You have probably heard the saying “Let Scripture interpret Scripture”.

b. Throughout this series on hermeneutics and Genre course, one can see the inter-relationship of Genre.  This inter-relationship of genres is important in interpretation.

c. One more fully appreciate the principle of “Let Scripture interpret Scripture” in seeing how one particular genre of Scripture can shed interpretative light of another genre of Scripture.

d. This appendix summarizes how each genre can be further illuminated by another genre of Scripture. (NOTE: This outline is not exhaustive)

e. This outline might be helpful as a guide to the hermeneutics of proper cross-referencing.

II. Interpretative insights of a Biblical passage in light of similar genre

a. Find if there are other places that are similar in Genre and see if there is new information provided to get a more fuller pictures.

Example: Looking at the four Gospels to get a picture of one incident.

b. Pay attention to progressive revelation: Are their more information provided in later revelation of the same Genre?

Example: Book of Revelation gives more details of prophecies than Isaiah, Daniel, etc.

III. Interpretative insights of a Biblical passage in light of other genre

a. Old Testament Narrative

i.      Proverbs: Are there any particular wise proverb that address the particular slice of reality of this text?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospels: Has Jesus and the early church authoritatively preach on this text, revealing insights within the text or further details?

iii.      Epistles:

1. Similar to New Testament Narrative, does the Epistles offer any insights into the text or further details?

2. The Epistles are especially helpful in giving theological interpretation of Old Testament Narratives.

b. Old Testament Historical Narrative

i.      What applies for Narrative above (insights from Proverbs, New Testament Narrative/Gospels and Epistles) applies here as well.

ii.      Narrative: Are their any Covenants and promises described previously in Old Testament narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

iii.      Laws: This provides the biblical standard of norms to make a moral judgment of the event in the Historical Narrative.

iv.      Lament and Praise Poetry: Does the Psalms provide further insight of the difficulties or celebration of the events in the Historical narrative?

v.      Announcement of judgment and oracle of salvation: Are there any prophetic books that occur simultaneously with the events going on?

c. Old Testament Laws

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Provides the historical and situational circumstances that the Laws are prescribed to.

2. Also, are their any Covenants and promises described previously in Old Testament narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

3. Are their examples of laws illustrated?

ii.      Praise and announcement of judgment: Are their any given perspectives of the Law of God provided in these genres?

iii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospels and Epistles: Does these genres reveal any Old Testament Laws are no longer applicable for today?

d. Lament and Praise

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Provides the historical and situational circumstances that the Lament or Praises Psalms are prescribed to.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises described previously in Old Testament narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel and Epistles: Did the New Testament further expounded on these texts?

e. Proverbs

i.      Laws: Since Proverbs is by nature “slice of reality”, it is also important that any imperative is seen within the boundary of the Law.

ii.      Epistles: Again, since Proverbs is by nature “slice of reality”, it is also important that any imperative within Proverbs be viewed within the boundary of the commands and prohibition of the New Testament.

iii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel and Epistles: Did the New Testament further expounded on these texts?

f. Other Hebrew Wisdom

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative: Provides the historical background.

ii.      Law, Proverbs and the Epistles: Especially in the “Counter-Wisdom” literatures, it is important to interpret things in light of the theological and moral boundaries of Scripture.

g. Announcement of Judgment

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Can provide the historical background of when the text was written.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises of curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

ii.      Law: What are God’s command and prohibition that God is not pleased with, that result in this announcement of judgment?

iii.      Oracle of Salvation and Apocalyptic: In light of the doom and gloom of Announcement of Judgment, is there any hope to be found in the Oracle of Salvation o r the Apocalyptic Genre?

h. Oracle of Salvation

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Can provide the historical background of when the text was written.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises of blessings described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that illuminate what is going on in this particular text?

ii.      Announcement of Judgment: Oracle of Salvation is seen as good news in light of the announcement of judgment.

iii.      Apocalyptic: Are there further expansion and details of hope to be found in Apocalyptic genre that can illuminate the oracle of Salvation?

i. Apocalyptic

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

1. Can provide the historical background of when the text was written.

2. Also, are there any Covenants and promises of blessings and curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that are being described as being fulfilled in this particular text?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel and Epistles: Did the New Testament further expounded on these texts?

j. New Testament Narrative/Gospel

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative:

Are there any Covenants and promises of blessings and curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that are being described as being fulfilled in this particular text?

ii.      Law: Are there certain behavior and manners that needs to be understood in light of the Old Testament Law?

iii.      Lament, Praises, Announcement of Judgment, Apocalyptic: Are there any prophecies that are being fulfilled here

iv.      Epistles: Are there further theological explanations of historical realities to be found in the epistles?

k. Epistles

i.      Narrative & Historical Narrative and New Testament Narrative/Gospel:

1. Are their any illustrations found in the Epistles that comes from these narratives and require previous background familiarity of these narratives?

2. Are there any Covenants and promises of blessings and curses described previously in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives that are being described as being fulfilled in this particular text?

ii.      Lament, Praises, Announcement of Judgment, Apocalyptic: Are there any prophecies that are being fulfilled here?

l. Parables

i.      Law: Are there certain behavior and manners that needs to be understood in light of the Old Testament Law?

ii.      New Testament Narrative/Gospel: Does the rest of the Gospels happen to provide information important to understanding the parable’s details?

iii.      Epistles: In regards to one’s interpretation of the Parables, is it within the boundary of theological and moral orthodoxy as expounded in the Epistles?

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GO TO PART XV

I. Identifying Parables

a. Definitions

i.      Popularly defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.[1]

ii.      Stein holds that it is“A figure of speech in which there is a brief or extended comparison.”[2]

iii.      Comes from a Greek term “parabole” which “means literally to ‘throw alongside,’ and that’s what parables do.  They make comparisons.  They align one thing next to another to clarify the second.”[3]

iv.      “Realistic stories, simple in construction and didactic—in purpose, that convey religious truth and in which the details often have a significance beyond their literal narrative meaning.”[4]

b. Three Classification

Since Parables are hard to define, as if it was on a sliding scale of forms.  It is helpful to think of it in terms of three classifications.  Here it is presented from more complex to simpler forms:

i.      Parable proper[5]

1. Also called “True parable.”[6]

2. It is story-like[7], with narrative elements of plot, character and setting.[8]

ii.      Similitude

These “are more like illustrations taken from everyday life that Jesus used to make a point.”[9]

iii.      Parabolic Sayings[10]

These are in reality metaphors and similes.[11]

II. Principles in interpreting New Testament Parables

a. Since Parable Proper is a type of narrative in its form[12], principles of interpreting narratives would apply to these parables.

b. Pay attention for “lead-in”

i.      What was stated or happening in the moment before the parable was given?

ii.      “The lead-in establishes a set of expectations in the listener/reader so that we expect the parable to illustrate a concept.”[13]

iii.      It is something like stepping on a land mine, which sets off the parable being delivered.

iv.      Example: Luke 15:2.

c. Look for obvious language of comparison

i.      Words such as “like” or “as” are indicators of comparison which is important in interpreting meanings.

ii.      Example: Matthew 13:33.

d. Pay attention to any summary of the parable given[14]

i.      Does the text itself tells us what it means?

ii.      What does the narrator who wrote the Gospels has to say?[15]

iii.      What did Jesus have to say about the parable itself?

e. Consider how the passage fits into the whole of the narrative

i.      What section of the epistles is the passage coming from?

ii.      “Sometimes the placement of the parables in the Gospel suggests meaning.”[16]

f. Find out about the historical background of the materials mentioned in the Parable.

i.      In considering the nature of parables as, the background ought to be taken seriously.

ii.      Be aware that “the various terms used in the parable evoke attitudes and responses in the reader today which are quite different from and even antithetical to those evoked in the hearers in Jesus’ day.”[17]

iii.      Example: The Samaritan mentioned in the parable of the Good Samaritan is shocking to the original Jewish hearers, and it is our job to enter into the Biblical world and understand what was going on.

iv.      Background material to the Epistle can be found within the Scriptures itself:

1. Does the Old Testament inform us of certain practices and values that can illuminate the parable?

2. Are their practices and values that is mentioned in the Gospels which put the parables object lessons in perspective?

v.      Background materials can be found outside of the Scriptures as well: 1st Century primary sources, Bible hand books, sources on archaeology, texts on history, commentaries, etc.


[1] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 15.

[2] Ibid, 22.

[3] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 103.

[4] Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 202.

[5] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 103.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 137.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 104.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 138.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 109.

[13] Ibid, 116.

[14] Ibid, 117.

[15] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 78.

[16] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 117.

[17] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 75.

 

GO TO APPENDIX 2

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GO TO PART XIV

I. Identifying Epistle

a. Definitions

i.      Letters that are found in the New Testament.

ii.      Written first century letters that was occasional documents (“arising out of and intended for a specific occasion”).[1]

iii.      “An epistle is a letter designed for wide circulation that addresses current issues and revives personal relationship.”[2]

b. Elements

i.      Six elements[3]

1. Name of the writer

2. Name of the recipient

3. Greetings

4. Prayer wish or thanksgiving

5. Body

6. Final Greeting and Farewell

ii.      Two main parts

1. Indicatives

a. The factual statement of Christian truth that a Christian ought to know.

b. Typically the bulk of indicatives are found in the beginning section of the epistle.

2. Imperatives

a. The command, exhortation and prohibition that a Christian ought to practice.

b. Typically the bulk of the imperatives are found in the ending section of the epistle.

II. Principles in interpreting Epistles

a. Remember: “A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to his or her readers.”[4]

i.      Fee goes on to write that “This rule does not always help one find out what a text means, but it does help to set limits as to what it cannot mean.”[5]

ii.      Hence this principle is the objective controlling principle regulating the following principles and other hermeneutical principles in interpreting the epistles.

b. Identify the elements of an epistle

i.      Identifying the elements are helpful keys to interpreting its function in the text.

ii.      Asking these questions might help:

1. Who is the author and what do we know about him?  Where the author located at during the writing, and what was was he going through?

2. Who are the recipients, what was their relationship to the author and where were the recipients located?

3. What was included and what was excluded in the greetings that were not typically found in other New Testament epistles?

4. What was the content of the epistle’s prayer wish or thanksgiving, and the reason for them?

5. What was the main body addressing about?

c. Consider how the passage fits into the whole of the epistle

i.      What section of the epistles is the passage coming from?

ii.      How does the passage contribute to the part, section and whole?

d. Find out the historical context of the epistle.[6]

i.      In considering the nature of epistles as a document addressing an occasion (see the above definition of the epistle), the background ought to be taken seriously.

ii.      Background material to the Epistle can be found within the Scriptures: Book of Acts.

In a fascinating interdependence of the Biblical genre, the book of Acts as a New Testament narrative help illuminates the background information for the epistles!

iii.      Background material to the Epistle can be found outside of the Scriptures: 1st Century documents, archaeology, history, etc.[7]

e. The imperatives are to be grounded in the indicatives

The epistle’s “theological worldview provides the rationale for  behavior by grounding the imperative in the indicative.  That is, the epistles command, rebuke, and exhort, but they do so on the basis of the character and work of God.[8]

f. The implication of the epistles’ indicatives are found in the imperatives

The indicatives in the epistles are to be believed and if believed, should result in a change of behavior as covered in the imperative section of the epistle.


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 48.

[2] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 152.

[3] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 46-47.

[4] Ibid, 64.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 49-54.

[7] See my outline, “The aid of natural revelation as tools in hermeneutics”, in the basic course of hermeneutics available at http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/introduction-to-hermeneutics-series-session-eleven-the-aid-of-natural-revelation-in-hermeneutics/ .

[8] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 155-6.

 

GO TO APPENDIX ONE

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GO TO PART XIII

I. Identifying New Testament Narrative and Gospels

a. Definitions

i.      Narratives is a literary form which gives historical details and it’s meaning found both in the Old and New Testament.

ii.      Gospels are a form of narrative found in the New Testament, which record the life and ministry of Jesus.

iii.      For the purpose of this outline, Gospels and New Testament narratives are considered together.

1. Principles for interpreting New Testament narratives are applicable to the Gospels.

2. Further principles for the Gospels will also be covered.

b. Where the genres can be found in the New Testament

i.      Gospels

1. Matthew

2. Mark

3. Luke

4. John

ii.      Non-Gospel Narrative

1. Acts

c. Elements[1]

i.      The essential elements include:

1. Scene

a. This is probably the most important element.

b. Scene involves sequence of event in the narrative.

2. Plot

This concerns the beginning, middle and ending of the development of the narrative.

3. Character

Who is involved in the narrative?

4. Setting

Where in space/time does this narrative takes place?

5. Point of view

ii.      Other elements:

1. Dialogues

2. Parables

3. Rhetorical devices[2]

II. General principles in interpretations

a. For New Testament Narratives and Gospel

i.      Consider how the text fits into the greater context of the section or book.

1. Each passage is part of a section that gives meaning to the greater whole.

2. The greater whole controls what each part means.

ii.      Considering the theology of the text

1. Make a distinction between descriptive and prescriptive passages.

2. Some of the accounts of events in narratives are not moral examples to emulate.

iii.      When possible, the proper interpretation of other portion of the Bible must be taken into account in interpreting particular narrative events.

1. Pay attention to antecedent theology.

a. What are prior revelation in the Bible that might shed some light on the historical narrative?

b. What theological theme previously revealed in the Old Testament is now being given fuller details in the passage under scrutiny?

2. Utilize the Epistles

Epistles can give fuller theological explanations of events recorded in the Gospel or Acts.

iv.      Asking theological questions of the text

1. What does this account tell us about God?

2. What does it tell us about the human condition?

3. What does it tell us of the world?

4. What does it tell us of the people of God and their relationship with Him?

5. What does it tell us of the individual believer’s life of faith?

v.      Watch the characters

1. Who are the main characters in the narrative?

Why are they important and what purpose do they serve in the text’s intention?

2. Who are the supporting characters in the narrative?

They are the foil for a reason, so why are they mentioned and how does this serve the text’s intention?

3. God is always in the narrative, even if He is not explicitly mentioned

This is why it is important to ask the theological questions of the text (see above).

vi.      Attention to the details of each scene

1. What has taken place previously in Biblical history at that location? Is there any significance of this?

2. What was the political and religious climate of the location?

vii.      Be conscious of the setting

There might be relevant background information that aid in interpretation.

viii.      Discern the point of view even within dialogues

1. Distinguish between dialogues and straight narrative.

2. Non-dialogues serve as the “Voice of God” about the event.

3. The words of Jesus or the prophets are authoritative!

4. The dialogue can portray the point of view of the speaker.

5. This is true unless the narrative makes it clear otherwise that the dialogue is a lie.

6. Point of view from human dialogue might not be truths from God.

ix.      Understand the plot

The plot is how each scene relates to each other!

b. For the Gospel

i.      Compare the parallel account in other Gospels

1. What are further facts given in the other Gospels about this event?

2. Why did the particular gospel made the editorial choice of what to include, and what not to include?

ii.      The teachings of Jesus must be read with care

1. What is He saying?

2. Why is He saying it?

3. How does this apply to me today?

iii.      The theological significance of Jesus miraculous works

1. It is important that these are not interpreted as prescriptive realities of the Christian life and ministry today per se.

2. It is important to understand the purpose of His miracle as testifying to the truth of Jesus as Messiah.

iv.      Implications of the Kingdom of God and the Covenants

1.      “One dare not think he or she can properly interpret the Gospels without a clear understanding of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus.”[3]

2.      In light of Jewish eschatological anticipation of the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven), how do we understand the events in Jesus ministry?

3.      What aspects of the various biblical covenants point towards Jesus have been fulfilled in His first advent, and what aspects of biblical covenants remain to be fulfilled?

a.      Fulfilled aspects of the Covenant testify to Jesus as Lord!

b. Aspects of the Covenant that remain to be fulfilled will have implications for eschatology.[4]


[1] Many of these elements are found in Old Testament narratives and historical narratives as we-ll.  Much is borrowed from the previous session on Old Testament narratives in this outline.

[2] See my basic hermeneutic course for the fundamentals of the historical grammatical approach, in which items such as idioms, hyperbole, etc must be taken into account.

[3] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 131.

[4] This is a fascinating relationship between hermeneutics (principles in interpretation), genre (Gospels) the biblical covenants and systematic theology (specifically, eschatology)!

GO TO PART XV

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GO TO PART XII

I. Identifying Apocalyptic Genre

a. Definition

i.      The word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apocalypses, which means an “uncovering, disclosure, revelation”[1]

ii.      According to Gordon Fee, it is Hebrew prophecy which “looked exclusively forward to the time when God would bring a violent, radical end to history, an end that would mean the triumph of right and the final judgment of evil.”[2]

iii.      It is the prophetic literary form that “proclaims that God has not turned his back on the world but will radically and unexpectedly intervene and introduce a universal solution that will solve all problems.”[3]

iv.      Apocalyptic genre is a prophetic literary form which seeks to comfort the faithful, and warn those who are worldly, in light of upcoming future end.

b. Further identifying aspects

i.      Apocalyptic has only one final solution: Total destruction.[4]

ii.      Apocalyptic announces that God will intervene supernaturally to bring the end of man’s sinfulness.[5]

c. Apocalypse as a composition of other genres

i.      As it is evident in our course on prophetic genres, prophetic genre is a more complex literary form, and it is in some sense a blend of other literary genre.

ii.      “Apocalyptic is a hybrid genre, partaking of narrative, poetry, and prophecy.”[6]

1. Narrative: Apocalyptic literature has plot, character, setting and point of view.[7]

2. Poetry: It is highly symbolic with vivid illustrations, and it’s style can be filled with Hebrew parallelism.[8]

3. Prophecy: It has two genre of prophecy, announcement of judgment and oracle of salvation.

A case can be made that Apocalyptic is really a combination of announcement of judgment, with an announcement of salvation concerning the final end.

d. Elements

i.      As a hybrid genre, it has elements of these genres

1. Plot

2. Character

3. Setting

4. Point of view

5. Hebrew parallelism

6. Accusation

7. Announcement

8. Reference to the future

9. Mention of radical change

10. Mention of blessing

ii.      Unique elements

1. Dualism[9]

a. Good verses evil

b. Unlike pagan dualism, the good and God is greater than the evil side.

2. (Extensive) Symbolism

e. Some place in Scripture where can Apocalypse be found[10]

i.      Daniel 7-12

ii.      Isaiah 24-27

iii.      Ezekiel 38-39

iv.      Joel

v.      Zechariah 1-6

vi.      Matthew 24-25

vii.      Mark 13

viii.      Luke 21

ix.      Revelation

II. Is Apocalyptic Genre important for the Christian?

a. First and most important: It is in the Bible!

b. Jeffrey Arthurs has noted that this genre makes up more than the genre of proverb or parable.[11]

Since these genre and subgenre are important enough to learn to interpret it accurately, how much more should a genre which appears more often and require more skill in interpreting!

c. The Bible itself says the one who reads one of its Books that is largely apocalyptic will be blessed

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy , and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)

III. Principles in interpretation

a. Identify the unique elements and the composite elements

i.      As stated previously in other lessons, consciously identifying elements help strengthen one’s interpretation by bringing to awareness what is in the text.

ii.      However, identifying elements is even more important as the difficulty of the genre require more skill and consciousness to the text’s literary elements.

iii.      Therefore, since Apocalyptic is a hybrid genre of narrative, poetry and other prophetic genres, and hermeneutical principles for poetry, narrative and prophetic genres apply here as well.

All the principles from Session Three to Four, Sessions Six through Eleven applies here as well.

b. Read apocalyptic in view of a context of crisis.[12]

i.      Most of the time apocalyptic was written during persecution or a crisis.

ii.      This is an important background information to keep in the back of the interpreter’s mind.

c. Approach Apocalyptic imagery by starting with the images that is already interpreted.[13]

i.      Sometimes, the text itself reveals what the images mean and symbolize.

ii.      These images, which have been explained, it can throw light to what other images meant!

d. Have previously revealed Scriptural ideas and images brought to bear in interpreting Apocalyptic imagery

i.      Bruce Metzger “has figured that of the 404 verses in Revelation, 278 contain one or more allusions to the Old Testament[14]

ii.      Let Scripture interpret Scripture through antecedent theology![15]

e. Do not attempt to identify the significance of every detail.[16]

i.      “One must see the visions as wholes and not allegorically press all the details”[17]

ii.      In other words, don’t forget the bigger picture!

f. “Keep all options open for how apocalyptic predictions will be fulfilled”[18]

i.      We do not know everything about the future, so we can not say we know for sure.

ii.      Isaiah 55:8 reveals that man’s thought is different than God’s thought, and apocalyptic genre is indicative of this truth.


[1] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 179.

[2]Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 233.

[3] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 186.

[4] Ibid, 179.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 180.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 185.

[10] Sources: Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 232; Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 180; D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 184-185.

[11] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 179.

[12] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 188.

[13] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 237.

[14] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 186.

[15] This is the valuable insight of Old Testament professor Walter Kaiser.

[16] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 189.

[17] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 237.

[18] D. Brent Sandy and Martin G. Abegg Jr., “Apocalyptic” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 189.

 

GO TO PART XIV

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GO TO PART XI

I. Identifying Oracles of Salvation

a. While there are prophetic genre that brings bad news (see Session Eleven on Announcement of Judgment), there are also prophetic genre that brings good news: The Oracle of Salvation.

b. Definition

i.      Also goes by the name promise.[1]

“Promise is the assurance that the LORD will deliver his people and renew his blessing.”[2]

ii.      What is meant by salvation?

“Salvation is any act of God’s goodness and care, of his justice and fairness, of his grace in answering the prayers of sinners.”[3]

iii.      Thus, an oracle of salvation is God’s promise or prophetic reassurance of His promise that He will act in a way that show’s his graciousness and care.

iv.      It is “a word from God that assures people of the validity of God’s promise during a crisis and of his deliverance from an adverse situation.”[4]

c. Elements[5]

i.      Reference to the future

ii.      Mention of radical change

iii.      Mention of blessing

d. Two sub-genre

i.      Promise of Salvation

1. These “address the needs of the people by using the form of an oracle of assurance to an individual.[6]

2. Elements[7]

a. Reassurance

b. Future transformation

c. Basis for reassurance

ii.      Proclamation of Salvation

1. This form “responds to a communal lament and, in doing so, draws much of its language from lament.”[8]

2. Elements[9]

a. Lament

b. Reassurance

c. Future transformation

d. Basis for reassurance

II. Principles in interpretation

a. Prophetic literature is largely poetic, and hermeneutical principles for poetry applies here too.

i.      “God spoke through his prophets largely by poems…”[10]

ii.      Therefore, all the principles in Session Six concerning parallelism apply here as well.

b. Identify the elements within the text.

Consciously identifying elements as listed earlier will help strengthen one’s interpretation of clauses and sentences.

c. If possible, try to identify the specific historical situation from other area in Scripture.

i.      An aspect of oracle of salvation is a future reversal of the announcement of judgment.

ii.      Knowing this background would lead to a further appreciation of God’s faithfulness.

d. Have the announcement of judgment give light to oracle of announcement.

i.      This shows the inter-relationship of genres, and the importance of this in hermeneutics.

ii.      Grace of the oracle of Salvation would be best appreciated in light of announcement of judgment.

e. Remember the Covenants and other promises God made earlier.

Oracle of salvation are not only based upon previous promises but they complement them and even give further details.

f. Realized that some of the prophecies have been fulfilled, others are still awaiting fulfillment.

i.      The prophecies fulfilled should be the basis of trusting that what God says is true.

ii.      The prophecies awaiting fulfillment should give us hope for the future.


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 178.

[2] Willem A. VanGemeren, “Oracles of Salvation” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 140.

[3] Ibid, 139.

[4] Ibid, 145.

[5] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 178.

[6] Willem A. VanGemeren, “Oracles of Salvation” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 143.

[7] Ibid, 144.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 144-145.

[10] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 179-180.

GO TO PART XIII

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GO TO PART X

I. What a Prophet is and does

a. What a prophet is

i. A prophet is an office that God calls an individual to; usually he is called in a supernatural event of a Divine Confrontation of some sort.[1]

ii.      “God enables prophets to speak and act as he desires.”[2]

iii.      He is a representative of God.[3]

iv.      “The biblical terminology used for the prophets indicates that they ‘see’ things usually not perceived by others.”[4]

v.      A Prophet lives a exemplary moral life (1Samuel 12:3-5), unlike false prophets (Isaiah 28: 7-8; Jeremiah 23:10-14).[5]

b. What a prophet does

i.      He represents God.

ii.      He is a spokesperson for God.[6]  Thus, he utters God’s Word.

iii.      “The prophets were covenant enforcement mediators.”[7]

iv.      Prophecy was written and spoken at the same time[8]

1. He verbally communicates his message.[9]

2. It was written down: Isaiah 8:1, 16; 30:8; Jeremiah 36:2; 51:60; Ezekiel 2:9-10; 43:11-12; Habakkuk 2:2

3. Why did prophets write down their material?

a. “Given that understanding of the eternal significance of the divine Word, we should expect the prophets to commit their words to writing.”[10]

b. Vindicate the truth of the Prophet’s message.[11]

II. Identifying Announcement of Judgment

a. Definition

i.      Announcement of Judgment were messages of the prophets which warns the people about God’s judgment.

ii.      It serves as a rebuke to the people from Yahweh himself.

b. Elements within an Announcement of Judgment[12]

i.      An accusation

1. This shows what it is that God is accusing the people of.

2. It is the sin that the Prophet is pointing out to the people.

ii.      An announcement

1. The announcement is usually in the second person.[13]

2. This shows what God will do if the people will not repent.

c. Forms of Announcement of Judgment

i.      Prophecy of disaster

Elements[14]

a. Diatribe- Indication of the situation.

b. Threat- Prediction of disaster.

c. Including characterization- Something about the messenger or the hearer.

ii. Woe oracle

a.      “ ‘Woe’ was the word ancient Israelites cried out when facing disaster or death, or when they mourned at a funeral…no Israelite could miss the significance of the use of that word.”[15]

b. Elements[16]

i.      Exclamation of dismay introduced by woe or alas.

ii.      Participle describing wrongful action or noun giving a negative characterization of the people.

iii. Prophetic lawsuit

a. A legal motif.

b.      “God is portrayed imaginatively as the plaintiff, prosecuting attorney, judge and bailiff in a court case against the defendant, Israel.”[17]

c. Elements[18]

i.      Introduction- “Calling audience to hear and often appealing to heavens and earth as witnesses.”[19]

ii.      Statement of accusation

iii.      Prosecuting attorney’s address

iv.      “Description of the inability of cultic ritual to atone for such wrong acts”[20]

v.      Warning- Calling the listeners to turn back to God and obey Him.

III. Principles in interpretation

a. Prophetic literature is largely poetic, and hermeneutical principles for poetry applies here too.

i.      “God spoke through his prophets largely by poems…”[21]

ii.      Therefore, all the principles in Session Six concerning parallelism apply here as well.

b. If possible, try to identify the specific historical situation from other area in Scripture.[22]

In the amazing flow of the Bible’s diversity (various genres) and unity (the inter-dependence of the various genre), narratives and historical narratives in the Bible are helpful in this regard.  This will enrich one’s interpretation.

c. Identify the elements within the text.

Consciously identifying elements as listed earlier will help strengthen one’s interpretation of clauses and sentences.

d. Identify the sins which the people were rebuked for.

Pay attention to what sins God grieved over, and practically how this address us today if we have similar sins.

e. Remember the Covenants, the Covenants that are antecedent to the Prophetic text.

i.      Remember as stated earlier, prophets are covenantal enforcers.

ii.      In yet another beautiful illustration of how the Bible can interpret the Bible itself through various modes of Genre and the interplay of genres, the Law genre and narrative texts which stipulate the conditions of the Covenants are important background information to keep in mind when approaching announcement of judgment.


[1] Michael J. Williams, The Prophet and His Message, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed), 54-55.

[2] Ibid, 70.

[3] Ibid, 71.

[4] Ibid, 69.

[5] Ibid, 67-68,

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 166.

[7] Ibid, 167.

[8] C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, (Chicago: Moody Press), 33.

[9] Michael J. Williams, The Prophet and His Message, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed), 74-75

[10] C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, (Chicago: Moody Press), 32.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Trent C. Butler, “Announcement of Judgment” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 160.

[13] Ibid, 162.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 178.

[16] Trent C. Butler, “Announcement of Judgment” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 163.

[17] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 177-8.

[18] Trent C. Butler, “Announcement of Judgment” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 163.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 179-180.

[22] Trent C. Butler, “Announcement of Judgment” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 166.

GO TO PART XII

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GO TO PART IX

I. Identifying other Hebrew Wisdom literature

a. There are other Hebrew Wisdom literatures in the Bible besides Proverbs (Session Nine).

b. Remember that Hebrew Wisdom are concern with[1]:

i. Divine reward of good and punishment for evil

ii. Living responsibly or recklessly

iii. Knowing the truth of God’s creation

iv.Good citizenship.

c. Other books of Hebrew Wisdom Literature in the Canon of Scripture include:

i. Job

ii. Ecclesiastes

iii. Song of Solomon

d. Importance of the fear of the LORD in Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature

i. “The concept of the fear of the LORD infused Hebrew wisdom tradition with religious and ethical dimension as well, distinguishing it to some degree from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts.”[2]

ii. Where the concept of the fear of the LORD as the beginning of wisdom is reaffirmed:

1. Job 28:28

2. Psalm 111:10

3. Ecclesiastes 12:13

e. Hebrew Wisdom can invite readers to be extra reflective of what is written

i. Unlike the direct forwardness of Proverbs, Non-Proverbial wisdom literature can be more indirect in getting the message across.

ii. It can get more illustrative in describing something than straight forward propositions.

iii. Example: Song of Solomon describes a relationship between lovers instead of just saying, “Lovers should be in love with one another”.

f. Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature can also deal with ultimate foundational issues of meaning and life.

i. In other words, Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature can be quite “philosophical”.

ii. Example: Ecclessiates discusses about the vanities of life.

II. Principles in interpretation

a. Remember that the Fear of the LORD is foundational in Non-Proverbial wisdom literature.

i. The fear of the Lord is what keeps the “shrewdness of Proverbs from slipping into mere self interest, the perplexity of Job from mutiny, and the disillusion of Ecclesiastes from final despair.”[3]

b. Sometimes Non-Proverbial wisdom literatures require extra care of the greater context of the book in interpretation.

i. It is especially obvious of the danger of quoting verses in such literature without the context to teach something that the verse or the entire Bible really does not teach.

ii. It is important that one interpret a verse in light of the development of the thought progressing throughout the bo

iii. Example: Was Job’s friends correct in their assessment of Job?  Has it been revealed in the book what God thought about the perspectives offered by Job’s friends?

c. Expect disturbing propositions to be brought up, but not necessarily endorsed.

i. Since Hebrew Wisdom literature does deal with deal with ultimate foundational issues of meaning and life, and Hebrew Wisdom literature are creatively written to be thought-provoking, expect disturbing propositions to be brought up.

ii. There exists the literary device of counter-wisdom or anti-wisdom wisdom, where the “use of tension is the real genius of speculative or discussion wisdom”[4]

iii. Are all ideas raised necessarily endorsed by the author as the right view?  Remember to see the entirety of the book, and how it flows!

d. Pay attention to repetition

i. What is repeated again and again does have some importance.

ii. The question to ask about Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes would be: What is the repeating theme in these two books?


[1] Donald K. Berry, An Introduction to Wisdom And Poetry Of the Old Testament, (Nashville: Broadman And Holman Publishers), 4.

[2] Andrew E. Hill, “Non-Proverbial Wisdom” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 256.

[3] Derek Kidner, An Introduction to Wisdom Literature: The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press), 17.

[4] Andrew E. Hill, “Non-Proverbial Wisdom” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 271.


GO TO PART XI

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GO  TO PART VIII

I. Identify Hebrew Proverbs

a. Proverbs as Hebrew wisdom literature

i. What is wisdom in the Hebrew Bible?

1. “Wisdom is the ability to make godly choices in life.”[1]

2. In the Hebrew Bible wisdom refers to predominantly practical activities.  Action and thinking are inseparable.”[2]

3. “Wisdom indicates skill or ability: to perform manual labor like spinning (Exodus 35:25), to discern good and evil (Job 28:28), to solve riddles (Proverbs 1:6), or, generally, to know how to live well.”[3]

4. Wisdom concern with[4]:

a. Divine reward of good and punishment for evil

b Living responsibly or recklessly

c. Knowing the truth of God’s creation

d. Good citizenship.

ii. Hebrew Wisdom literature will thus focus on the above subject.

iii. Proverbs is categorize under Wisdom literature.

b. Definitions

i. Wisdom sayings that are “short, self-contained, poured out apparently at random.”[5]

                   ii.It is “a brief, particular expression of a truth.”[6]

c. There are two major types[7]

i. Instructions

1. Usually second person in nature.

2. Didactic in nature, for the listener to do something.

3. Largely found in Proverbs 1-9, 22:17-24:22, 31:1-9.

ii.Sayings

1. Usually third person in nature.

2. General observation about life.

3. Largely found in Proverbs 10-22:16.

II. Principles in interpreting Proverbs

a. All the principles in Session Six apply here as well.

b. Identify whether it is an instruction or a saying.

i. Instructions should be treated as instructions.

ii. Proverbs that are in the sub-genre of Sayings must especially take note of principle “d” and “e” here.

c. Proverbs as slice of reality

i. Biblical Proverbs cannot be false, because the Word of God is never false.[8]

ii. Biblical Proverbs are thus true, but they present a slice of reality.

iii. Given that life is complex with various acts and consequences, a “proverb is always true in the slice of reality it describes.  It does not pretend to describe all of reality, just one segment of it.”[9]

iv. Thus, a Proverb should not be view alone, but compared with the canonical whole for more fullness.[10]

v. Objection:This “slice of reality” is unbiblical and a theory invented to get away from the problem of Proverbs being not true.

1. First off, this “slice of reality” approach does not conflict with any Biblical truth.

a. Rather, this approach makes the entirety of Biblical Proverbs (and its relationship to other Scripture) coherent.

b. It is important that one might not like the idea of “slice of reality” because it make sense of proverbs, but that is a far from attributing the “slice of reality” approach as not making any sense.

2. Examples of Biblical evidence for “slice of reality”

a. Proverbs 15:22 and Proverbs 19:21

i. In planning for success, it is wise to have many counselors (Proverbs 15:22).

ii. Yet, it is God’s counsel and will which will be fulfilled over the plans of man (Proverbs 19:21).

iii.  Synthesis: One seek wisdom from those who can be deem counselors, while acknowledging that God’s plan will prevail over man’s plan.  Thus, seeking the Lord’s wisdom and guidance is essential.

b. Proverbs 13:23 and 13:25

i. Does the wicked always get their punishment in this side of eternity, such as the wicked being in need of food such as suggested in Proverbs 13:25?

ii. Yet, injustice can also be done against the poor on this side of eternity (Proverbs 13:23).

iii. Synthesis: While injustice can be done by the wicked, God disapprove of the wicked and can even bring punishment such as with hunger even before the commencement of the final judgment.

c. Proverbs 26:4-5

i. Note its near proximity, where it is highly implausible that the writer write contradictory statement back to back.

ii. The “Slice of Reality” paradigm make sense of the text.

3. Yet, “slice of reality” is used in secular context, but there is no objection to it.

a. “We need no telling that a maxim like ‘Many hands make light work’ is not the last word on the subject, since ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’.”[11]

i. The first proverb captures a slice of reality that in some circumstances, many help makes things easier.

ii. Yet, the second proverb captures a slice of reality that in some circumstances, many help makes things more difficult.

iii. Both slice of reality are equally true.

b. Thus, “slice of reality” is not just an approach only toward Biblical Proverbs, but in other areas as well and not a ploy to run away from a problem.

vi. Since a Proverb is a slice of reality, interpreting and applying a Proverb also require wisdom.

1. Requiring the wisdom to properly interpret and apply a Proverb should lead a believer to be on his knees, praying for wisdom which is given by God (James 1:5).

2. Requiring the wisdom to properly interpret and apply a Proverb should lead a believer to practice interpreting Proverbs.

With all pun intended, “Practice makes perfect!”

d. Proverbs provides no middle ground between proper and improper conduct

i. “The choice of a ‘one or the other’ mode of conduct is the premise for nearly all the ethical content of the book.”[12]

ii. This is also known as the Doctrine of the Two Ways.[13]

iii. This framework is helpful when one encounter proverbs that provide indicative observations, with no written instructions.

e. Pay attention for the any values given.

i. Proverbs provide the lens for value judgment.

ii. There are equational proverbs

1. This is when a subject’s value is stated as the same with another object.

2. For example, see Proverbs 10:15, 10:20, 10:23.

iii. There are Better-Than proverbs[14]

1. This is a comparison of two objects, where one’s value is greater than another.

2. For example, see Proverbs 12:9.

iv. There are abomination sayings[15]

1. This tells the reader God’s view of right and wrong.

2. For example, see Proverbs 15:8.

f. Be aware of personification

Examples:

1. Wisdom and folly as women[16]

2. Fire speaking (Proverbs 30:16)

g. Pay attention to sarcasm

1. This has a way of capturing the truth in a ironic and memorable way.

2. See Proverbs 18:11

h. Concentrate on what the text teach about who God is.

i. It is always important to be theo-centric in our interpretation.

ii. The fear of the Lord is foundational in grasping Proverbs (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10).

iii. The fear of the Lord is what keeps the “shrewdness of Proverbs from slipping into mere self interest.”[17]

iv. Lennart Bostrom, has identified Proverbs’ creation theology, God’s retribution and order, and theology proper (God’s transcendence, sovereignty and personal).[18]


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 206.

[2] Donald K. Berry, An Introduction to Wisdom And Poetry Of the Old Testament, (Nashville: Broadman And Holman Publishers), 5.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 4.

[5] Derek Kidner, An Introduction to Wisdom Literature: The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press), 25.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 217.

[7] Ted A. Hildebrandt, “Proverb” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 239.

[8] For a fuller treatment of the theological basis for this claim, see “Doctrine of Inerrancy” Part I through III, under systematic theology articles at http://www.teamtruth.com.

[9] Ted A. Hildebrandt, “Proverb” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 248.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Derek Kidner, An Introduction to Wisdom Literature: The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press), 26.

[12] Donald K. Berry, An Introduction to Wisdom And Poetry Of the Old Testament, (Nashville: Broadman And Holman Publishers), 122.

[13] Ibid.

[14] T. A. Perry, Wisdom Literature and the Structure of Proverbs, (University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press), 40-44.

[15] Ted A. Hildebrandt, “Proverb” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 243.

[16] Donald K. Berry, An Introduction to Wisdom And Poetry Of the Old Testament, (Nashville: Broadman And Holman Publishers), 129-131.

[17] Derek Kidner, An Introduction to Wisdom Literature: The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press), 17.

[18] Lennart Bostrom, The God of the Sages: The Portrayal of God in the Book of Proverbs, (Stockholm, Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksell International).


GO TO PART X

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GO TO PART VII

I. Identifying praise poetry

a. Introductory note:There can be many more various sub-genre of Psalms (Messianic, Royal Psalms, Creation Psalms, etc), but for the purpose of this course in dealing with the broader genre of Scripture, some of the sub-genre can be seen as a type of praise poetry.

i. Some of the praise hymns include declarative praise (thanksgiving) and descriptive praise.[1]

ii. Some of the forms of Psalms can also be divided into further sub-genre groups.

iii. Of course, there might be Psalms in the Psalter that does not fit in neatly into the categories given.

b. Definition: “Praise is primarily a reciting of the attributes of God and of acts of God, and then praising God for both.”[2]

c. Two broad types of Praise and their elements

i. Declarative Praise

1. Definition: “These psalms are called songs of thanksgiving or declarative psalms, because the psalmist was praising God by publicly declaring his mighty deeds.”[3]

2. “Such psalms expressed joy to the Lord because something had gone well, because circumstances were good, and/or because people had reason to render thanks to God for his faithfulness, protection, and benefit.”[4]

3. Elements[5]

a. Proclamation to Praise God

b. Summary statement

c. The Report

d. The Praise

4. Sub-genres of Declarative Praise:

a. Individual thanksgiving

Examples: Psalms 18, 30, 32, 34, 40, 66, 92, 116, 118, 138.[6]

b. Community thanksgiving

Examples: Psalms 65, 67, 75, 107, 124, 136.[7]

ii. Descriptive Praise

1. Definition: These are Psalms “praising God primarily by describing his character, with a focus on the attributes of God—who he is and what he is like—these psalms are frequently called hymns of praise or descriptive psalms.”[8]

2. “These psalms, without particular reference to previous miseries or to recent joyful accomplishments, center on the praise of God for who he is, for his greatness and his beneficence toward the whole earth, as well as his own people.”[9]

3. Elements[10]

a. Call to praise

b. Cause for praise

c. Call to praise again

4. Sub-genres of Descriptive Praise:

a. Creation Psalms

Examples: Psalms 8, 19:1-6, 104, 148[11]

b. Enthronement Psalm

i. These “speak of a future coming of the LORD to his people or to the earth, or that speak of a future rule of the LORD over Israel or over the whole earth”[12]

ii. Examples: Psalms 47, 93, 95-99[13]

II. Principles in interpreting praise poetry

a. All the principles in Session Six apply here as well.

b. Identify whether the Psalm is a Descriptive or Declarative Psalm.

i. Is the Psalm about God’s attribute?  If so, what does it say?

ii. Is the Psalm about what God has done? If so, what does it say?

iii. Note:Why knowing the genre is half the battle in interpretation

1. Attempting to identify the sub-genre means looking for important elements within the text.

2. By identifying the elements, the elements show what the text mean.

c. If possible, see if the Psalm fit into the appropriate sub-genre within the Descriptive or Declarative Psalm.

i. Similar to the note given above, testing to see if the Psalm has a sub-genre will be fruitful in helping the reader to interpret the Psalm more fully.

d. If the Praise is declarative, try to identify the historical context.[14]

i. Not always easy, especially in the Psalms.

ii. These answer the question more richly of what God has done that is worthy of praise.

e. Concentrate on what the text teach about who God is.

i. It is always important to be theo-centric in our interpretation.

ii. Praise is not so much of what God has done, but who Yahweh is.

iii. Within those Psalm, often there is not much details given of exactly what Yahweh has done; rather, there is more detail of who Yahweh is.[15]

f. The why is the what of praise

i. The Psalms sometimes gives the reason for the writing of the Psalm.

ii. This reason is also the content, or the what, that is being praised about God.


[1] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 46.

[2] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 218.

[3] Ibid, 222.

[4] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[5] Modified from Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 46.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 219.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195.

[10] Modified from Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 221.

[11] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 221; and Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195

[12] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 220.

[13] Ibid, 219.

[14] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 227.

[15] Idea as taught by Professor Keith Essex, of The Master’s Seminary.

 

GO TO PART IX

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GO TO PART VI

I. Identifying Lament

a. Definition: It is a poetic cry towards God

b. It comprises the largest group of Psalms, with over sixty laments.[1]

c. It is a Psalm of disorientation.[2]

d. It is mainly distinguished by the content and mood rather than the structure.[3]

e. It is recognized “by expressions of grief, sorrow, fear, anger, contempt, shame, guilt and other dark emotions.”[4]

f. Examples of Laments include Psalms 3-7, 9-10, 12-14, 17, 22, 25-28, 31, 35, 38-43, 52-57, 59, 61, 63-64.

g. It has the following element

i. Invocation, which is the crying out to God in the vocative.[5]

ii. Plea, which is the request and it usually uses an imperative verb in the Hebrew.[6]

iii. Complaint, which reveals the motive of the lament.[7]

iv. Confession of trust in God.[8]

II. Principles in interpreting Lament

a. All the principles in Session Six applies here as well.

b. Identify if it is a communal or individual lament.[9]

c. Try to identify the historical context.[10]

i. Not always easy, especially in the Psalms.

ii. Sometimes you do get some background information such as in the book of Lamentation.

d. Looking for the reason of why the lament was expressed.

i. Key words in English would be “because”, “for”, etc.

ii. Key word in the Hebrew is the word ki.[11]

e. Ask the question, what does this Psalm teach us about God?

i. Laments are not depressing poems, there is a hope expressed in God!

ii. The goal is to find what it is about God that is the basis of the lamenter’s hope.


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[2] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 45.

[3] Tremper Longman III., “Lament” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 198.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 200.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 45.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[10] Tremper Longman III., “Lament” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 208.

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GO TO PART V

I. Definition of Hebrew poetry

a. It is a more picturesque way of saying things.[1]

b. Sometimes it is best understood in contrast to its opposite: Prose.

i. Prose is not always easy to define either

ii. Prose is saying things with as little as possible.[2]

c. Hebrew poetry can also be defined as having certain elements.

II. Elements to identify Hebrew Poetry

a. Hints of the musical

i. Are there any rhythms of sound in the text?

ii. Is there any reference to music?

1. Does the text explicitly mention words of music?

a. Note: In the Psalms, the lines before the first verse in the English Bible are part of the Canon of Scripture and must be read!

b. Does it have Hebrew words for poetry?

See for instance, what is stated before Psalm 16:1

c. Does the text mention it being a song?

See for instance, what is stated before Psalm 18:1.

d. Does the text mention a choir?

See for instance, what is stated before Psalm 19:1.

e. Does the text mention any musical instrument?

See for instance, the mention of flute before Psalm 5:1.

b. Parallelism

i. Are there any rhythms of thought?[3]

ii. Parallelism is “where two statements are juxtaposed”[4]

iii. Parallelism is the most basic and common characteristic of Hebrew poetry.

III. General Principles in interpreting Hebrew Poetry

a. The vocabulary in poetry is intentionally metaphorical.[5]

i. This is because Hebrew Poetry is by definition picturesque.

ii. Thus there is a need to recognize the intent of the poetry behind the imagery.

b. If the text is within a Psalm, treat the text in light of the entire Psalm.

i. A Psalm is one literary unit.[6]

ii.Each line is purposeful in connection to the whole.

c. Looking for hints by identifying parallelism

i. Since Hebrew poetry uses the literary device of Parallelism, this helps us in interpreting Hebrew Poetry

ii. How does the lines relate to one another? What are the emphasis interpreters should note?

1. Synonymous

a. This means that the second line reiterate the line before it.[7]

b. This symmetry exists in the Hebrew language and also conceptually in thought.

c. The reiteration is for emphasis of the same thought.

d. Examples of this can be seen in Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 18:5.

2. Specifying[8]

a. While the first line is more general, the second is more particular.

b. Example of this can be seen in Psalm 5:12.

3. Complementary[9]

a. This is when the second line is offering a related thought in the vein of the first line

b. It completes the thought

c. Example of this can be seen in Psalm 8:6 and Psalm 4:5

4. Explanatory[10]

a. This is where the second line gives an account for the preceding line

b. This is a great interpretative insight, as the second line is an exposition of the first line.

c. Examples of this can be seen in Psalm 4:8

5. Consequential[11]

a. This is where the second line is making progress either logically or temporally from the preceding line.

b. Examples of this can be seen in Psalm 2:5 and Psalm 4:3.

6. Comparative[12]

a. The second line is comparing the thought in the preceding line to something.

b. Examples of this can be found in Psalm 4:7 and 5:9b.

7. Antithetical[13]

a. The second line is contrastive to the previous line.

b. Exasmples of this can be seen in Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 12:15.

d. Identify the proper genre of the text, and interpret it accordingly.

The genre of poetry will be discussed in the next several sessions.


[1] This is in the words of Keith Essex, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition in The Master’s Seminary.

[2] This is in the words of Keith Essex, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition in The Master’s Seminary.

[3] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus.

[4] Robert Chisholm Jr., Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 142.

[5] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 190.

[6] Ibid, 192.

[7] Robert Chisholm Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 142.

[8] Ibid, 143.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid, 144.

[12] Ibid.

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