Re: historically informed interpretation

Carlton Winbery (
Wed, 18 Dec 1996 16:27:44 +0400

Dan Froese wrote;
>>Somi wrote:
>>Yet, he
>>unapologetically insists that one needs to know the historical background to
>>understand the book. In my estimation, he (Fee) is contradicting
>>himself...if there is a scholar who accomplishes what Fee is meaning to do,
>>I would like to know of one. (I am not being sarcastic here...I would invite
>>anyone to show me a good biblical "historically-informed" interpretation.
>I must agree with Gordon Fee, (I am sure that Fee is ecstatic about my
>>endorsement) about the necessity of a historically-informed
>interpretation. I >have found that a better example of this is the book
>of Colossians. Most >modern commentators, such as Peter O'Brian (Word
>Biblical Commentary) see >Paul's references to "pleroma" , "stoicheia tou
>kosmou" and other terms as >references to gnostic astral dieties. This
>would certainly not be immediately >obvious with a reading of the text
>alone without reference to it's historical >context. Yet I find that
>reading it within this context gives the text new >life and significance.
>Others who go even farther than O'Brien would include >Eduard Lohse in the
>Hermeneia Commentary
>What do you think?
Edward Lohse's _The NT Environment_ is a good resource to see some ways
that a knowledge of the historical and cultural setting of the NT produces
better translation. Another is Bo Reicke, _The NT Era_. One draw back is
that they sometimes chew up the data for the student and digest it.
Students need to be encouraged to do some chewing of their own. The only
way to do that is to read the primary sources and the NT in large chunks.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Fax (318) 442-4996
Phone (318) 487-7241