RE: Kline article in PSCF

Glenn Morton (
Mon, 01 Apr 1996 21:15:42

I wrote:
> Thus as Garry DeWeese and Jeff
> Mullins point out, the difference between the ancient exegetes and the
> modern ones involves the science (astronomy, geology, archaeology, etc) not
>the language. If this is the case, then why can I not use the science of
>our day to support a historical exegesis?

Garry DeWeese wrote:

>I believe I called attention to our better understanding of Hebrew
>through the study of cognate languages, our better understanding of
>literary forms, and of the thought milieu or world views of the ancient
>near east. Our contemporary understanding of science does come into
>play, but later in the hermeneutical process. I was trying to point out
>that the ability of OT scholars to exegete the original text is far
>better than the patristic exegetes even before contemporary science is

I stand corrected. You did point that out. In my defense I would point out
that in my opinion two of the three things you cited on March 26 were of
the nature of data external to the language itself. You wrote:

>While such an experiment might be an interesting study in the history of
>exegesis, it ignores the fact that in manmy ways we have a better
>understanding of the text than did those living in the second-sixth
>centuries, due to the results of linguistic studies of the cognate
>semitic languages, better understanding of the literary forms that were
>current at the time the OT texts were being written, better
>understanding of the ancient near eastern cultural millieu in which the
>texts were originally intended to communicate, etc.

Most assuredly the understanding of the semitic language should be better
today, but the cultural millieu would (at least partially) seem to me to fall
into the extra-language realm. The cultural information comes from archaeology
and not from the language.

Concerning the literary forms of that day. That is certainly relevant. But
I have a question. I would feel more certain that the new knowledge of the
contemporary literary forms is very relevant IF the literary forms are from
the Hebrew culture and not from Mesopotamian or Egyptian cultures. My
understanding (and correct me if I am wrong) is that there is very little
extra-biblical Hebrew material from that time. Is this correct?