Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, by Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard: Prooftexting

After the introductory portions, this book moves into a discussion of text sources, language and semantics, which is what has been drilled into my head from the Hebrew class.  There are many steps to this process.  One immediate problem is that the authors state that Hebrew was originally written without word separators.  This seems problematic to me since my Ugaritic Text gives examples of word breaks, and this predates any known Hebrew text.

The Big Split in Biblical Scholarship is completely ignored.  For example, the stone made as a witness between Laban and Jacob in Genesis 31: 48 is given in Aramaic, which is basically an assertion that Aramaic and Hebrew existed side-by-side from 1,800BC.  The modernists would contemptuously disagree.  This kind of difference can be quite important as we try to determine the best way to decipher the language.  Where do the authors stand?

Another cute item was a reference to the Biblical authors as "he or she".  Um.  I guess we can deduce that "he or she" is now a semantic unit.  Perhaps we should just contract this to "heorshe" and delete the offensive "he" and "she" from our language.  But then we will face the issues of transgender, exogender, metagender and polygender.  It is a good thing that we have scholars to help us keep all of this straight.

There is a stern warning about anachronistic readings, followed by:  "The First Epistle of John begins with an explicit assertion of the reality of Christ's physical body."  So far so good.  "Attempting to counteract a docetic Gnostic teaching that claimed Jesus only appeared to have a physical body, the author affirms that his message about Jesus is based upon that "which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes" (1:1, emphasis added)."  This statement screams, "anachronism"!  We generally  assign the Gnostics to the second century, while John likely died in the first century.  Even worse, the whole theme of the First Epistle of John is in a completely different direction.  It is targeted at those who don't think sin matters and encourages us to prepare and look forward to our meeting Christ.  John warns of Antichrists, which would eventually become a large number of false sects and include teachers who deny the deity and work of Christ in one form or another.  There is simply no way to pin one specific group onto John's writing.  Again, the theme of the book is about sin and repentance, which is also something that Antichrists take exception to.  An attempt to make this specific to one sect that has no modern counterpart deserves a stern rebuke.

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