Re: historically informed interpretation (longish)

Jonathan Robie (
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 06:05:46 -0500

To me, one of the reasons for learning Greek is to encounter a text that is
old and strange, that means something different than I think it means, no
matter what I think it means, and which was not written primarily to give
simple and systematic answers to my questions.

In Sunday School, I learned enough conventional explanations to give me
simple, comfortable explanation for most texts that I encounter - too
simple, and too comfortable. And in my mind, these explanations are keyed to
phrases I remember from the translations we used.

If the point of hermeneutics were to find "the answer" to any passage, God
should have written a systematic theology, a gospel tract, and a book of
ethics instead of the wonderfully rich book that he gave us. So when I
approach the text, I try to assume that it is strange to me, that any one
explanation is only part of the truth, and that I can only rely on the
Spirit to convey some of the richness of this living and active word to the
spirit within me.

So one of the reasons for looking at the Greek and history is to remind
myself how strange and rich the text really is, and throw myself on the
grace of the Spirit.


Jonathan Robie
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