Re: [asa] Book(s) on Hermeneutics?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Mar 08 2008 - 09:53:32 EST

I don't have any specific text on hermeneutics to recommend. Things that are specifically devoted to that can be kind of dry. I think that to a certain extent it's like "philosophy of science" - you best see what a scientist's philosophy of science is by studying how he/she does science. In the same way, you best see what a theologian's hermeneutic is by studying how he/she uses scripture in doing theology. (Of course hermeneutics isn't limited to biblical interpretation but I assume that's what we're interested in here.)

& to speak just for myself, I think this is really where the christological emphasis comes in. Scripture is to be read in relation to its center in Christ. Luther's "All scripture everywhere speaks only of Christ" is, of course, an overstatement if taken too literally but the spirit of it is right. We don't see the deepest significance of any text of scripture until we grasp its proper relationship with Christ - the word "proper" there being crucial.

& because of that, the "original meaning" of a text, while important, isn't the last word. There is no reason to think that the writer of Numbers 21:9 intended the lifting up of the bronze serpent to be a type of Christ. But it is because John 3:14 says it is. I realize that some will argue that that really was in the mind of the writer of Numbers but that's just reading John back into Numbers. What I'm arguing is that we should do that explicitly but not pretend that it was the "original meaning." (& this isn't a terribly novel idea. It's what is referred to as the sensus plenior of a text.)

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: ASA
  Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 8:49 PM
  Subject: [asa] Book(s) on Hermeneutics?

  I'm wondering if anyone can recommend some reading on hermeneutics. We have some good stuff on inspiration, such as Peter Enns recent book. But, once we've decided that, say, the original hearers of the text would have thought of the sky as a solid dome over a flat earth, and we're reasonably comfortable with that in terms of the inspired nature of the text, how do we move from that to the application and authority of the text? Evangelical hermeneutics in particular has been focused on discerning and applying the original meaning of the text. I've come across plenty of references seeking to defend the "traditional" evangelical literal-grammatical-historical hermeneutic. I'd be very interested in sources that are seeking to develop a more nuanced evangelical hermeneutic.

  David W. Opderbeck
  Associate Professor of Law
  Seton Hall University Law School
  Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Sat Mar 8 09:55:14 2008

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