Re: Paul's Method
Gary Collier writes:
> I would argue (generally) that hermeneutic methodology
>(by definition) is a function of and tool for culture: to bring
>text to life. Methods suitable in one culture, time, and place,
>may not be suitable, or understandable, in another. That does not
>make them wrong.
I understand your position, but don't (quite) share it.
While I accept that it is not possible to recover the
original author's intent with certainty, I don't think
that that renders any text open to any intepretation,
depending on the culture (or even preferences) of the
intepreter. Although Paul's understanding of the Hebrew
Bible is at least partially determined by his culture,
as indeed our understanding of Paul's writing is at
least partially determined by our own, that does
not obviate our responsibility to treat the text with
as much care as possible.
So, although it isn't possible to recover the original author's
intent, I think it is possible at least to assign levels
of plausibility to different interpretations, and to judge
hermeneutical methods by criteria based on this idea. For
example, if Paul's analysis of a text relies completely
on a contemporary situation and seems to make no reference
to either the textual or social/historical context of that
text, then, however useful, valuable, or even correct the
conclusions he draws, his analysis is at best very likely
to be inappropriate to the text, however appropriate the
results may be to the people he is communicating with.
Before anybody reminds me, I *do* appreciate the profundity
of our ignorance of the situation, time, and authorship of
much of the Bible (OT and NT)---that's why I only speak of
plausibility and probability. But then, I can't really
see at least a slight nagging doubt as to the veracity
of the conclusions one draws from Scripture as a Good
Thing; regardless of one's beliefs as to the infallibility
of the Biblical text, a thoroughgoing acceptance of the
fallibility of the human mind (however devout and sincere)
applied to them can only lead to more civilized debate
and discussion on the topic. Anyway, that's enough moralizing
from me for one day.
Robert Low email(JANET): RobLow@uk.ac.coventry.cck
smail : Mathematics Department, Coventry University,
Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, England.
Keep an open mind---but not so open your brain falls out.