Paul's Method

>From Robert Low:
     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.
I believe that I understand your concern here and, in many ways, share
it.  Nor would I argue that "any text is open to any intepretation,"
although that is what I think I hear in much discussion today.  (And
if it is, then advocates of such a position should have no complaint
about anyone else's approach, regardless of what it is.)
I just find it difficult to stand in my own culture and academic
climate 20 centuries removed from Paul (or the rabbis) and argue that
he (they) used the "wrong" approach to texts.  Likely, he used the
correct approach for his audience, time, and place.  To illustrate, if
we could travel through time to something similar to a Jerusalem
conference (as presented in Acts 15) and present an academic paper on
"Resurrection Motifs in the Prophets," we would probably all get blank
stares.  (Just like at SBL conferences!  :-)  )  I suspect this would
be as true of a form- or redaction-critical paper as much as a reader-
response paper.  These kinds of approaches more or less make sense to
us, because we are conditioned for them.
So, was Paul's *method* right or wrong?  I myself do not intend to use
his method (depending on how you define "method" -- [and "lack of
clear definition" is my demurrer against Hays' book]);  but I don't
blame Paul for using a then-current method, or for "not being more
careful with the text."  Frankly, these ancient exegetes were as
careful, or moreso, than any of us -- but from a different vantage
point, to be sure.
Gary D. Collier
University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology