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Archive for the ‘interpretation of the bible’ Category

interpreting-the-historical-books-an-exegetical-handbook

Robert B. Chisholm Jr. Interpreting the Historical Books: An Exegetical Handbook.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, December 1st,  2006. 231 pp.

This book exceeded my expectation.  I really enjoyed this book on interpreting the historical narratives found in the Old Testament.  Some people might not think of hermeneutics as “fun” but this really was fun to read.  It was also helpful for me too.  I think the book was a rare combination of being meaty and yet insightful into the Scriptures that makes readers excited to want to read the Old Testament.

The book is divided into six chapters.  The first chapter focuses on what is narrative literature with the breakdown on what are the elements of narratives and interpretative principles that are conscious of them.  The second chapter is on the primary themes of the historical books while the third chapter is on the preparing for interpretation.  Chapter four is titled “interpreting narrative texts,” chapter five is “proclaiming narrative text” and chapter six is “From Text to Application: Two Samples.”

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15fgoa

This is a look at another alleged Bible contradiction from the Gospel of Luke as given by the Skeptic Annotated Bible.

Today’s question: Was Jairus’ daughter alive when Jesus was approached?

She was still alive.

And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an [l]official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus’ feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house; 42 for he had an [m]only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. (Luke 8:41-42)

She was already dead.

While He was saying these things to them, [m]a synagogue [n]official came and [o]bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” (Matthew 9:18)

I have looked at three links by Christians responding to this “contradiction” but I wasn’t satisfied.  If we examine the passages carefully one will see that this isn’t necessarily a contradiction.  Let’s take a closer look:

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Barrick

Dr. William Barrick is an Old Testament scholar that I have been much encouraged with (If you don’t know who he is see the short biography below after the videos).  Here’s a description of this conference:

The prophetic books of the Old Testament are some of the more difficult portions of the Bible for believers to understand and apply. They are often skipped in entirety or merely skimmed through. Yet at the same time some of our favorite prophetic passage about Jesus find their place in those books. How are we to understand the prophets? What relevance do they have for contemporary Christians? These, along with other questions will be answered during this seminar. As a focus to show how the principles work in real life, the focus will be the book of Zechariah.

He spoke for a conference called “Prophets in the Life of a Believers” that focuses on prophecy at Word of Grace Church in Battle Ground, WA.  While it took place last fall it was only recently that Dr. Barrick shared this on his website.

Here’s the videos:

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question mark

I found an internet discussion surrounding a post that’s been generating some discussion and I find the post to be filled with a lot of things I want to respond to but don’t know if I have all the time to go through everything.  So I begin with a quote:

There are also times that Paul gave dated instructions in his letters, which we have to admit are not the inerrant words of God (2 Tim 4:13)!

According to this individual if one read 2 Timothy 4:13 we would have to admit that this is an example of a passage in Paul’s epistle that is not the inerrant words of God.  2 Timothy 4:13 is suppose to be an example of a passage that contradict the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.  The case is suppose to be so obvious that “we have to admit are not the inerrant words of God.”

Whenever people engage in doctrinal disputes it is imperative of Christians to think biblically and think through logically the arguments presented.  Sometimes that careful look at a verse require us to avoid rabbit trail and thus this post will narrow it’s scope only to the passage of 2 Timothy 4:13 and the examination of the logic of the immediate argument at hand.  So let’s take a prayerful closer look.

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Matthew vines

This is our third installment in which we look at the problematic precommitments that Matthew Vines has accepted prior to his research for his book God and the Gay Christian in which he argues that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3).  Here in this post I want to address Vines’ problematic pre-commitment concerning Old Testament laws.

Matthew Vines In His Own Words

On page 11-12 Vines said:

But while I’d once agreed with my parents’ view on homosexuality, I didn’t anymore.  Even before coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I had been studying the Bible’s references to same-sex behavior and discussing the issue with Christian friends.  Some of what I learned seemed to undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages.  For instance, Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.  And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.’  Yet Christians no longer regard eating shellfish or men having long hair as sinful.  A more comprehensive exploration of Scripture was in order.”

Note in the above quote that even before Vines came out of the closet as being a homosexual or even before he began researching to write his book, Vines’ own view of the Old Testament has already led him to question whether the Bible prohibit same sex relations.  Although Vines admit that a “more comprehensive exploration of Scripture was in order,” already what he thinks he knows has “undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages”

Then on page 78 Vines gives us some more details of how he started to question the Old Testament laws found in Leviticus (18:22 and 20:13) that prohibits same-sex relationship:

When I was fourteen, I used that verse to ‘prove’ to a friend that gay marriage ws wrong.  Today, I realize I hardly knew anything about what I was saying–the context of that verse in Scripture, for instance, or the place of the Old Testament law for Christians.

It’s no surprise that I was at a loss when my friend responded to me with verses from Leviticus banning the eating of shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics.

Sad to say, though, that’s been the extent of many debates about the BIble and homosexuality in recent years.  One side starts by quoting Leviticus 18:22 (or 20:13, which prescribes the death penalty for males who engage in same-sex relations), and the other side counters with verses about dietary laws and bans on certain combinations of clothing.  We really need to go deeper”

Thus his interaction at the age of 14 with friends on the topic of Old Testament laws has already slanted him towards the view that the Bible does not prohibit same-sex marriage.  We definitely need to go deeper in our refutation of his pre-commitment that slants him towards affirming same-sex relationships.

The Problem with Vines’ view of Old Testament Laws

  • Vines lamented the state of debate between the two sides: “One side starts by quoting Leviticus 18:22 (or 20:13, which prescribes the death penalty for males who engage in same-sex relations), and the other side counters with verses about dietary laws and bans on certain combinations of clothing.”  Ironically this is what Vines himself does when he invokes dietary laws as a defeater to the non-affirming Christians’ interpretation of Leviticus.  He didn’t “go deeper” as he promised in the book but presented the typical gay apologists’ arguments about Old Testament laws.
  • Matthew Vines’ hermeneutics is definitely problematic.  Recall the principle that led him to think same-sex relationship is okay: “Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.”  In essence, this is his hermenutical principle:  “Since X  from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either.”
    • But just because Leviticus has laws that prohibit things that later in the New Testament it allows, does that means same-sex relationship fall under the same category of things permissible?
      • Homosexual sins is not in the same category as dietary laws.
      • Also the New Testament did not reverse the teaching of Leviticus against homosexuality, pronouncing that it is now permitted for a man to lie with another man, etc.
    • Matthew Vines’ hermentical principle that “Since X  from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either” is dangerous.
      • Taking Vines’ hermeneutical principle towards Leviticus to its logical conclusion, is it now permitted to see the nudity of family and relatives members?  The same argument Vines use against the prohibition against homosexuality can be used by perverts to argue against Leviticus 18:6-17 (same chapter with the prohibition on male homosexual acts).  Leviticus might prohibit unclothing family members and relatives, but to use Vines’ own words Leviticus also “uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.”  Thus  shellfishes “undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages” and somehow with Vines leap of logic in the structure of his argument it must mean incestuous uncovering of nakedness is allowed today.
      •  Vines’ form of argument can be used to say it is permissible to commit children sacrifices, bestiality and incest by employing his erroneous hermeneutical principle to dismiss Leviticus 18:21, 18:22, 20:11-12 respectively.  We can go on but readers should get the point with his hermeneutics.
    • Matthew Vines is also inconsistent with his hermeneutical principle that “Since X  from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either.”
      • Again Vines believes in “committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3).
      • Part of that commitment means there must not be adultery, which by definition is the violation of a committed monogamous relationship.
      • If Vines is consistent with his interpretative approach it undermines the prohibition of adultery.
      • But Vines won’t go there and probably won’t accept someone who uses his argumentation to allow for adultery.  Thus, he is inconsistent with his own method.
    • Matthew Vines and others might argue that the points above does not apply in light of the New Testament relationship to the Old Testament.  This is our reply:
      • While the New Testament still prohibit adultery, etc., remember the New Testament continue to prohibit homosexual relations as well.  Of course, Vines and company will dispute that, but the Christian response can be found elsewhere in our blog and is beyond the scope of this post.
      • Going to the New Testament does not resolve Vines’ problematic hermeneutics.  That is because he himself applies this kind of argumentation to the New Testament; recall above how Vines was quoted as saying: “And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.'”  Now the problem is further compounded by bringing this interpretative strategy to the New Testament.
  • Ultimately, Vines’ basis of ethics is not the Bible if he can judge which prohibition in Scripture (Old and New Testament) should still stand and which should not.  His standard of ethics needs to be exposed and refuted.  This we have already done in part 1 of this series in which we documented and refuted his humanistic consequentialist’s ethics.

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do-not-judge.001

It seems to be the most quoted Bible verse: Do Not Judge.

Yet it is probably one of most misinterpreted verse in our life and time.

Here’s a good short video:

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Vern PoythressThere is a free PDF of a work by New Testament Scholar Vern Poythress titled “Issues in Hermeneutical Foundations: Selected articles on hermeneutics and biblical interpretation.”  It is a collection of various articles by Poythress that appeared various theological publications.

The PDF is hosted on Westminster Bookstore and available by clicking here.

(HT)

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 For Exposition of Jonah Part 5 click HERE

Jonah whale

Jonah 2

The good thing about studying further a series after you preach on something is that you are able to go back for deeper study.  Sometimes that means you come to a better conclusion that you had originally.  Case in point?  The last few weeks going through Jonah chapter two I was struggling with whether or not Jonah repented in the belly of the Big Fish.  The following is my conclusion, my reasons and what I see is the implication for our lives.

Further Consideration: Did Jonah Repented?

(A) Jonah saying “While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,” (v.7a)

(1) Inversion of Noahic flood where Genesis 8:1 where “God remembered Noah,” since it’s God’s initiative that saves Jonah rather than the other way around (Youngblood, Location 2172).

(2) The faithful in the Bible typically confess that it’s Yahweh remembering them rather than they taking the initiative to remember God such as in Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 1:11, 19; 2 Kings 20:3, Psalms 25:7, 106:4, Jeremiah 15:15, etc (Youngblood, Location 2175).

(B) Jonah’s prayer makes no reference to wrong doing and lacks confession or sorrow over his own sin (Youngblood, Location 2183).

(C) Jonah’s prayer has tension that indicate he might not understand the difference between penance and repentance

(1) Jonah 2:8 talks about other sinners who were idolators but there is not acknowledgement of his immediate sin and situation at hand.

(2) In contrast to the Idolators he compares himself as one who gives sacrifice to the Lord in the next verse in Jonah 2:9.  He is comparing himself to others rather than comparing his sins to God’s standards.

(3) In Jonah 2:9 Jonah said “which I have vowed I will pay.”  He might be having a works righteousness mentality going on here.

(D) Jonah’s attitude later on when Nineveh repented reveals that Jonah might not have had any heart change despite his initial behavior.

We can legitimately go to the conclusion to help illuminate what came before since the book of Jonah likes to use the literary device of intentionally leave out details in the beginning only to reveal it in a later scene what Jonah’s mind was thinking:

(1) The secret of Jonah’s reason for not going to Nineveh

(2) The secret of Jonah’s God with the mariner

What can we learn from Jonah not repenting?

(A) Action is not enough!  Jonah did outwardly carry out God’s plan but it’s important to confess our sins especially in light of 1 John 1:9 that He is faithful to cleanse us when we do!

(B) Make sure you do repent!

 NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 7

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Return of the Kosher Pig , by Tzahi Shapira

 
Pick up your copy of “Return of the Kosher Pig” over at Amazon

This is a book written by a Jewish Rabbi name Itzhak Shapira who spent years studying rabbinic Jewish texts and came to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah.  The main thesis of the book is that within the traditions of Judaism, the Messiah is understood as someone who is more than a mere man; some sources even suggest that the Messiah possesses divine authority.  Throughout the book the author reminds his readers that he is not arguing that everyone within Judaism accepts the idea that the Messiah is more than a man; instead he argues that the belief in the supernatural origin and character of the Messiah has historically been within the bounds of orthodox Judaism and should not be dismissed as a heretical belief.  Along the way the author also argues that the fulfillment of these characteristics of the Messiah has been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.

Before we look at the strength and weaknesses of the book, it is important to make a comment about the controversial title of the book.  My initial reaction to the title was whether or not this was design to provoke and offend.  The author makes it clear in the introduction that he’s not out to offend other Jews unnecessarily, and the tone of the rest of the book affirms that.  What Shapira is trying to do is to play on the Hebrew word “return” and “pig,” which share the same Hebrew consonantal roots.  The title of the book also play on the Rabbinic concept that some held that the Messiah will be rejected like a pig as unkoshered, but one day will return and acknowledged as the Messiah.

STRENGTH

This book will help Christians become familiar with the development of rabbinic traditions from the time of Jesus onwards.  Throughout the book the author regularly footnotes what certain Hebrew phrases mean and the glossary in the back of 300 Hebrew phrases will prove to be helpful for the Gentile readers.  I also appreciate that in the beginning of the book the author defines and discusses essential facets of rabbinic Judaism over the last two thousand years.

Whether or not you agree with the author, one can appreciate that in the beginning of the book he makes it clear what his theological methods are.  Since Shapira desire for his Jewish audience to come to know Jesus as their Messiah he adopts the Jewish hermeneutical system call PARDES which is the Hebrew acronym for P’Shat, Remez, Drash and SodP’Shat refer to the literal reading of the Scriptures, with the other three moving on from the literal and direct level of the text.  These four interpretative methods are explained in the book and the author makes it known that he will adopt this Rabbinic framework in approaching the question of the Messiah.  Non-Jews will no doubt find it fascinating to learn of the hermeneutical approach of Rabbinic Judaism.  I appreciated also that the author stresses the literal interpretation of the Bible comes first before employing the other three methods.

The book is well documented, with hundreds of footnotes.  I am amazed at how many Jewish sources the author cited.  As a result of reading this book, I was able to do some further research including looking up the portion of the Talmud that talks about the Messiah in Sanhedrin 98a.  It is a plus any time a book helps points the reader to the primary sources for further study.

The best part of the book are the moments the author deal with the literal interpretation of the Jewish Scripture and draw out from it what it teaches concerning the Messiah.  In addition I appreciated the discussion of the evidence for Jesus Christ involving the Stone Messianic references that I first learned about from Gregory Harris’ book The Stone and the Glory.  There are some excellent literal prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus—and that should move us to worship if we know Him!

WEAKNESS

At times the book was too speculative in its argumentation.  For instance, the author uses the PARDES method beyond the literal interpretation yielded some strange fruits. Take for example how the author allegorizes the donkey in Zechariah 9:9.  Contextually the Messiah is to ride on according to this passage.  The author took “donkey” to mean “the world” since the Hebrew word for donkey and “substance” share the same root (199).  This commits the exegetical word study fallacy by appealing to etymology.  Then on page 205 the author tells us that bread represents a spark of heaven and is referring to resurrected spirit even though he doesn’t establish his case from the Hebrew Scripture.  This is followed by page 206 that tells us “that the feminine manifestation of God represents the part of that God that we can see and remain alive” (206).  The Bible never indicates God’s revelation to us is His feminine manifestation.  I also wasn’t too thrill about the counting of the numerical value of certain Hebrew words to show the value was equal to another Hebrew word; we never see this kind of hermeneutical ploy used by anyone in the Bible to make sense of the Jewish Scripture.  Again, as I said earlier it is way too speculative.  A book full of these interpretative gymnastic is distracting; I think it would have served the cause better and have the case stronger if the authors just stuck to the literal interpretation and the collobration of those interpretation from Jewish rabbinic sources.

At times the author could have done a better job explaining what he was quoting or who it was he was quoting from and why is it that it is important (note, he certainly does this at times but could do it more).  The list of Jewish Rabbis in the back of the book wasn’t helpful when you are reading through the book and wondering who this or that Rabbi was since the Rabbis were not listed in alphabetical order but according to their time period.

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Messianic Jewish Publishers through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism

(Available on Amazon)

NOTE:It’s nearly four in the morning and I supposed I had too much notes more than I can finish as one review so this will have to be in parts.

This book was provided to me free by Baker Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

This book attempts to advance the thesis that there is a place for Evangelicals to critically use historical criticism in Biblical scholarship.  It is a call for Christians to be Evangelical and critical (in the sense of utilizing historical criticism).  The book is more a collection of essays by various writers dealing with different portion of the Bible and an exploration of what historical criticism means in each respective parts of Scripture.

I had a hard time with the chapter on Adam.  The main point of this chapter by both co-writers was that the denial of the historicity of Genesis 2-3 does not seriously affect the essence of Christianity theologically.  Readers must remember that the chapter is not necessarily denying the historicity of Adam and Genesis 2-3, but merely trying to argue that historical critical methodology on this passage does not destroy the fundamentals of the Faith.  Here the chapter makes a distinction between Original sin and the idea of sins’ concupiscence and ends up doubting the former while affirming the latter.  However, one must wonder whether there is good justification for Christians to question the historicity of Genesis 2-3 in the first place; it seems to raise more eyebrow when the chapter’s case rest upon the suppositions that there were multiple sources (JEDP) behind the Pentateuch and alleged parallel of Genesis 1-11 with the Atrahasis Epic.  Concerning the Pentateuch as having various sources, I find it troubling that the writers failed to interact with Evangelicals’ rebuttal for arguments for multiple sources such as doublets, etc.  Since this book is written to encourage Evangelicals to embrace historical criticism, it would have been good for the writers to interact with those who oppose it and their argument.  Concerning the Atrahasis Epic and the argument that the Ancient Near East did not have a literary form that fits our modern conception of history, I have always had a hard time buying the argument by historical critical proponents such as Peter Enns that these were somehow literary fictions or the fact that people in the Ancient Near East could not and did not conceptualize ways of communicating straight forward truthful narratives; it seems very hard to demonstrate this to be the case conclusively.  Assuming the historical critical assumption that the ancient was not as complex as us now, it seems to me that communication of stories back then would appeal to straight forward sensory experiences while more conceptual ways of communicating events would be more advance and complex and a later development (think of the Apocalypic prophetic literatures, etc).  Again, it seems to be the case that the writers grant certain suppositions of historical criticisms that needs to be better examined.  These foreign presuppositions apparently include the mention of macro-evolution as a possible explanation for the persuasiveness of sin, but this is to bring into the discussion more debates and dilemmas.

I also had a hard time with the chapter on the Exodus narrative.  The writer tries to paint an alternative between minimalists and maximalists approach to history and the Bible.   He sees minimalists as having problem of denying the historicity of the Exodus narrative altogether while maximalists don’t have the evidentialists support for all the historical claims of Scripture.  I don’t think the chapter really establish a good alternative.  With the impasse between a maximalist or minimalist position I think it might be more helpful to explore and discuss the worldview that moves one to hold those position as way of moving the conversation forward (see my recent posts at https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/maximalists-minimalists-in-light-of-presuppositional-apologetics/).

The book more than once mentioned that academic and intellectual studies of the Scripture is important.  I get that, and I agree but I don’t think that means one has to embrace historical criticism.  Since I respect the various authors’ effort to suggest a modified historical critical approach is possible, I think it’s only right I continue my review of the other chapters in another posts. Got to grab some sleep.

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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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Bible 2

 

Ideally in a perfect world, I would love to develop and teach a four level hermeneutics course and lecture series.  Level One would be Introduction to heremeneutics.  Level two on the Literary Forms/Genres found in the Bible.  Level three would be on the covenants of the Bible and it’s hermeneutical implications.  Finally level four would be a course on Logic.  Then there’s other hermeneutical topic that deserve to be taught in it’s own right as well (perhaps as an elective?): how does the NT uses the OT, and Finding Christ in the Scriptures, etc.

I have made Level one and two available online.

Beginning next Saturday, Lord willing we will feature outlines as teaching aides going over the covenants that are explicitly found in the BIble that has hermeneutical implications.

It will be a short series.

Stay tune!

And pray!

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bassano_jacopo_garden_of_eden

The topic of the historicity of Adam as the first man is a hot topic today in theology since some Evangelicals have come out to deny the historicity of Adam. The following is an outline from a bigger series I have going through a Biblical view of man.  I hope the following is helpful to think about how various genre that is unquestionably literal found in the Bible interprets the meaning and genre of Genesis 1-3 literally.

Purpose: To consider the arguments for the historical Adam as the first man God created.

I. Special Creation of Adam and Eve according to Genesis 1-2

a. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-31)

i.      This is the more general account of the creation of man, Genesis 2 will be more specific.

ii.      “Man” here is literally “Adam” in the Hebrew.

iii.      Notice here the plurality within God creating man

1. “Let Us make

2. “in Our image

3. “according to Our likeness

iv.      Notice the role of man in God’s creation in this verse.

b. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

 i.      This account is more specific than Genesis 1.

 ii.      Again, “man” here is literally “Adam” in the Hebrew.

iii.      Two details of Adam’s creation

1. Formed from the ground

2. God breathed into his nostril

c. “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22)

i.      This account is the creation of the first woman, later named Eve in Genesis 3:20.

ii.      Note Eve was made from Adam’s rib.

II.  There have been those who have questioned the historicity of the Bible’s account of the creation of man with Adam being the firstMan.  For example:

a. Tremper Longman III[1]

b. Bruce Waltke: From a headline of the news, “OT Professor Bruce Waltke resigns from RTS Orlando Faculty amid historical Adam and Eve controversy”[2]

c. Peter Enns: “Likewise, Israel’s story was written to say something about their place in the world and the God they worshiped. To think that the Israelites, alone among all other ancient peoples, were interested in (or capable of) giving some definitive, quasi-scientific, account of human origins is an absurd logic. And to read the story of Adam and Eve as if it were set up to so such a thing is simply wrongheaded.”[3]

III. Objections comes down to an issue of hermeneutics

a. In his book against the historical Adam, Peter Enns writes, “One cannot read Genesis literally—meaning as a literally accurate description of physical, historical reality—in view of the state of scientific knowledge today and our knowledge of ancient Near Eastern stories of origin.”[4]

b. The role of presupposing evolution in shaping interpretation of Genesis 1-3: “If evolution is true, one can no longer accept, in any true sense of the word ‘historical,’ the instantaneous and special creation of humanity described in Genesis, specifically 1:26-31 and 2:7, 22.”[5]

IV. Why we should interpret Genesis 1-2 and Adam literally and historically

a. Genre of Genesis 1-2 is narrative and hence it should be treated as revealing literal information.

i.      The essential elements of Hebrew narratives include[6]:

1. Scene

a. This is probably the most important element.

b. Scene involves sequence of event in the narrative.

c. In the Hebrew text, the component of scene can be established by the pattern of wayyiqtol.[7]

i.      Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

ii.      Wayyiqtol is often used to establish temporal or logical sequence.

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.      Genesis 1-2 has the element of the literary form of narrative

1. Scene:

a. Sequences of days (Genesis 1), Creation of AdamàGod’s dialogueàCreation of Eve (Genesis 2)

b. Genesis 1-2 has many Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

2. Plot: Five days of creation then the creation of man on the sixth day and then rest (Genesis 1); Lonliness of Adam then creation of Eve (Genesis 2)

3. Character: God, Adam and Eve.

4. Setting: The newly created world (Genesis 1), Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14)

5. Point of view: God’s point of view of creation chronologically (Genesis 1), God’s point of view of creation of man specifically (Genesis 2)

b. How does the rest of the Bible interpret Genesis 1-2?

i.      Methodological consideration

1. Since some say that Genesis 1-2 was originally not intended to be interpreted literally, that it’s meant to be understood as symbolic, so we have to ask the question of how the rest of the Bible interpret Genesis 1-2.

2. If the rest of the Bible as God’s infallible Word interpret Genesis 1-2 literally such as believing in a literal Adam and Eve, then we ought to see this data as God’s perspective on Genesis 1-2 and purpose of writing it is literal.

 ii.      Within Genesis

1. Note: Adam and Evil is presuppose as historical lest the rest of Genesis becomes nonsensical.

2. Narrative of the fall in Genesis 3 presupposes a literal Adam and Eve.

3. Those that have children are real, historically existent people.  Adam and Eve had children and therefore historically existed.

a. Adam and Eve is described as having children such as Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-2).

b. Adam described in a genealogy (Genesis 4:25, 5:1)

iii.      Book of Job: “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,” (Job 31:33)

At a minimum, this presupposes the story of Genesis 3 and a reference to Adam.

 iv.      Book of Hosea: “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.” (Hosea 6:7)

1. Here the sin of God’s people are compared to Adam’s sin.

2. Only a real person can transgress a covenant.

v.      Genealogies: 1 Chronicles 1:1, Luke 3:38.

1. Genealogy as a literally form is meant to refer to real people.

2. Adam is referred to in genealogies and therefore God’s Word is here attesting to the fact that Adam was historical.

vi.      Reinforcing the historicity of genealogies, Jude 14 as a straight forward epistle indicating God’s own Word interpreted genealogies literally.

vii.      Both Adam and Eve are presupposed as real in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.

1. Paul could have just invoked his apostolic authority concerning how women ought to behave.

2. The event of the fall of Adam and Eve is invoked here as the basis for Paul’s admonition.

viii.      Paul’s preaching of the Gospel to Athenian philosophers presupposes Adam as the father of all: “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts17:26)

1. Note that the Greeks did not believe God made all man from one person.

2. They believe that their own race (Greeks) had nothing to do with others since they were far more superior.

3. Yet Acts 17 is Paul’s sermon that lays the foundation to make the Gospel intelligible and he found it important to bring up Adam as the first man of all.

 ix.      Adam is presuppose as historical figure in the underpinning of the Gospel.

1. Just as Christ was historical and imputed righteousness for justification so too was Adam presupposed as historical imputing sin (Romans 5:12-21).

2. Just as Christ was historical and gave us life so too was Adam presupposed as historical giving us death (1 Corinthians 15:20-58).


[4] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), 137.

[5] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), xiv.

[6] The following essential elements are found in Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Narrative”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1995), 69-76.

[7] The discussion about the wayyiqtol is from Robert B. Chisholm Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 119-120.

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Purchase: Amazon

I did enjoy this commentary. For readers who are unaware, Fitzmyer is a Roman Catholic but I did not find his tradition really coming out (for instance, his interaction of the word “saints” in Philemon is interpreted to refer to believers in general, not SAINTS, and he did not have any further discussion about that point of saints and SAINTS). In the past I have used various commentaries from this series and I think this volume is one of the better ones (there are some whacky ones in this series). I read this work primarily for my exegetical preparation for preaching, so in terms of it’s usefulness for the exegete I thought that this work was worthwhile in terms of the materials for the readers to interact with, though I feel that there was more that Fitzmyer could have said. By saying that this work is worthwhile, I do not mean that I agree with every interpretative decision made by the author, only that they were not outrageous or out of bounds where he landed. From time to time there were historical, lexical, grammatical and syntactical insights that I gained about the Greek text from reading Fitzmyer, that I didn’t not see on my own.

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GO TO SESSION ELEVEN

I.                    Hermeneutics in Apologetics

a.       Apologetics is the art and science of defending the Christian faith.

i.      This involves a positive case for Christianity (1Peter 3:15)

ii.      This also involves a negative case in refuting falsehood (2Corinthians 10:5)

b.      Relationship of false teaching to bad hermeneutics

i.      Speaking about Paul’s Epistles, Peter wrote “His letters contain some things hard to understand which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2Peter 3:16b)

1.      Notice there is sin involved

2.      Notice that there is distorting of Scripture involved also

c.       In order to refute false theology, good interpretation of the Bible is needed

i.      Thus the right way to interpreting a passage must be defended on sound hermeneutical principles.

d.      Christians must demolish bad hermeneutical systems

i.      “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2Corinthians 10:5)

1.      Bad hermeneutical arguments ought to be demolished

ii.      It can be demolished in various ways

1.      Internal critique

a.       Is this hermeneutic system inconsistent?

b.      Are there informal logical fallacies or does it violate any other laws of logic internally?

2.      Take it to its undesired logical conclusion

a.       If we use the method of the bad system, would it lead to any conclusion by its very own method that its adherents would not desire?

3.      Contrast that with good hermeneutic

a.       Present the Biblical case for the Historical Grammatical Hermeneutic and what the Bible really says about the false teaching at hand.

II.                 Apologetics in Hermeneutic

a.       The very nature of studying proper hermeneutics presupposes the existence of bad interpretations and false teachings.

i.      Yet, there is a biblical mandate to refute error.

1.      This is even one of the requirements of an Elder: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9)

b.      Presenting the argument for a good interpretation of a passage, is in its essence engaging in apologetics

i.      You are marshalling forth a positive case for the correct biblical interpretation of Scripture.

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