Re: historically informed interpretation (way too longish?)

Somi Chuhon (
Sun, 22 Dec 1996 00:04:19 -0800

On a general note, can God not use imperfect vessels to accomplish His
perfect work? What I mean by this is are we concerning ourselves with
testing the validity of the text to effectively convey meaning on a scale
that is set by our own human standards? Is not the Scriptures demanding
that we affirm it as "perfect" before we come to interpret it? The
Scripture's ability to convey meaning "exactly as it means to convey it" is
an issue outside the realm of biblical interpretation. If we can't affirm
that the Scriptures can tell us what God has meant it to tell us (meaning of
inspiration?), why should we bother trying? The Scriptures are open to
testing of its effectiveness to convey meaning -- but that's an apologetic
issue, not an interpretive one. The two are too often confused.

By the way, I hope that I am not being misunderstood when I brought up this
issue of the need for historical background. I had a conversation with a
collegue concerning how we answered a question on the book of Mark in a
course I took earlier this year. Unlike his approach, I tried very hard to
stay within the text and determine what it was saying from the context. He
admittedly decided to look at the historical background and was not so
concerned with the actual text itself. But when I told him that I wanted to
pay attention to what the text was saying, he assumed that I meant looking
at the redactional issues of Mark and determining how and where a particular
passage came from and how it came to be part of the gospel of Mark. I was
shocked because he could not have been further from the truth. I just want
to clarify that this is NOT my stance (in case anyone was reading me in this

(Yes, a clarifying of meaning on my part...imperfect humans communicating to
other imperfect humans can bring at times some misunderstandings! -- thanks
be to the perfect Lord that He was the one perfectly guiding the writing of
our Scriptures!!)

On another note, I am so grateful for all of your input to this
discussion...I am learning and am being caused to think about a vasts number
of issues that I was not able to articulate clearly to myself. I know this
will reap much in my growth of understanding (as it already has).

ACTS Graduate Student
Langley, B.C.
Old Testament Studies