NT Exegesis and Hermeneuticss (was miscellaneous)

From: David L. Moore (dvdmoore@ix.netcom.com)
Date: Mon Apr 14 1997 - 11:21:52 EDT

Lynn Kauppi wrote:

>It is an assumption on your part, Heidi, that each New Testament text has
>only one meaning.

        The tenet that the texts of the Bible have only one meaning gained
prominence in Christian Biblical interpretation, in part, as a reaction to
exegesis that posited various levels of meaning for the biblical texts.
Origen, for instance, interpreted, in some cases, with a threefold sense.
>From Paul's mention of spirit, soul and body in 1Thes. 5:23, he concluded
that Scripture has a "bodily," or literal sense, a "soul," or moral sense,
and a "spiritual" or allegorical-mystical sense. Such allegorical and
multiple-meaning interpretations continued to be prominent up to the time of
the Reformation and have also continued, in some circles, to the present.

        Taken against such a background, Heidi's question expresses a
logical and valid concern for anyone involved in exegesis of the Bible.
Through the centuries, exegesis that has eschewed the idea of multiple
meanings or senses in Scripture has better stood the test of time than that
which tends toward allegorical or highly subjective interpretations.
Nevertheless - and as some of the answers to her post have suggested - this
time-tested principle is being replaced in many quarters in our day by a
post-modern hermeneutic that has despaired of the idea of the author's
conveying his meaning to the reader through the text.

        Heidi's question had to do with the process of exegesis. The
*answers* that have been given discouraging her search for the single true
meaning of the text rather address underlying presuppositions about
hermeneutics and doubts about the possibility of the author's conveying
meaning to the reader through the text.

        Taking Ken Litwak's offhand criticism of Gordon Fee's exegesis
handbook as an example, I note that Ken has not criticized any of the
specific processes in the steps Fee outlines as inappropriate for the
practice of exegesis. Nor has he given specific instances from Fee's recent
commentary on 1 Corinthians to illustrate how the method he has employed has
led to an incorrect understanding of the biblical text. Actually, I suspect
that Ken's main disagreement with Fee is over whether there really *is* any
single correct meaning in the text.

        The pusuit of the correct and valid meaning of the text has been and
continues to be a distinguishing mark of all credible exegesis: true
exegesis is impossible if this idea is abandoned.

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
E-mail: dvdmoore@ix.netcom.com
Home Page: http://members.aol.com/dvdmoore


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