Re: Hyers' Article - Cods Wallop!

From: Phillip Jones <>
Date: Sat Feb 21 2004 - 00:42:50 EST

Dick Fisher wrote:

>>The biggest problem theistic evolutionists such as Hyers face is what to do with Scripture. Typically, they proclaim the Bible to be "true" as an inspired piece of literature, but the truth stops short of being historically accurate. Instead of Genesis 1 being a chronological sequence of events, the order of presentation becomes in Hyers' words, a "cosmogonic" order.<<

Because a text does not fulfill the role of a historical narrative does not deem it a source of lesser truth. The distinction between allegorical content and historical narrative is not based on a preferred scientific view. Rather, the discovery of authorial intent is what leads to the distinction. I say this because your accusation is aimed at theistic evolutionists. I want to take science out of this entire scenario, and rightly so...the entire creation controversy never should have made it to a scientific level. It should have stopped at the Genesis hermeneutical conflict. The biggest problem with creation text literalists (CTLs) such as Fisher, Gish, what to do with Scripture. Their assumption is that their literal interpretation is an absolute, and the only alternative is poetry or myth.

In "Manners and Customs of the Bible," Victor Matthews states that in the ancient Hebrew times, a formal education system was non-existent, as was the case with most ancient ethnic groups and civilizations. The method of education most predominate was through the use of allegory. The advantages of allegory included:

- Usually provided an element of entertainment.
- The story was easy to remember so that it could be passed on.
- Underlying principle(s) communicated via the allegory was used for teaching a lesson.

Hyers argues that we are in a literalistic and information-fed society. Our 21st century hermeneutical reading glasses tend to filter out analogous language in ancient texts. Thus, present day American readers of the Bible are missing out on the deeper meaning of this powerful text: a theological response that defines the Hebrew God in contrast to the deities of one or two idolatrous and polytheistic neighboring cultures. The fact that neighboring cultures used allegory to define their existence and describe their deities is further proof that allegory served a powerful role.

>>But the parables of Christ were called exactly that! Christ himself called them "parables" so we would make no mistake. The second sentence begins the setup where Hyers applies his rationale to try to make a paradigm shift in the genre of Genesis One literature. Does the writer (Moses?) give us any similar clues to avoid our making the mistake of thinking that Genesis One is history? No. He left it for Hyers to figure out. <<

So the absence of an "allegorical context" disclaimer in Genesis means that a literal interpretation is the default hermeneutical method? Then I guess there is no reason to study ancient Hebrew backgrounds because Moses left it to Fisher to figure out: unless text is declared as analogous/parabolic/allegorical/metaphorical, it is to be interpreted literally. This seems to resemble a postmodern approach of subtracting author's/artist's intent and allowing the communicative object to mean something other than what was intended. If all biblical passages were easily interpreted by non-scholarly readers, then commentaries would be unnecessary. Fact is, people like Hyers are needed to bring forth insights into a culture that is so far removed from our own.

Received on Sat Feb 21 00:42:40 2004

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