Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Postmodern Liberal Challenge

This is a challenge for anyone (I have two specific people in mind) to engage in the discipline of exegesis, and provide that exegesis in the comment box of Ephesians 1. I want to see you engage the historical and literary contexts, the context of the chapter in the overall book. Why each verse, under the inspiration of the Spirit is placed where it is, looking at important grammatical structures (verbs, prepositions, etc.), and examining the original languages to help get to a closer understanding of the teaching of the text. If you can do this, I will give you my respect, and I will also send you a free copy of AW Pink's, The Sovereignty of God.

Note: Philosophizing over Ephesians 1 DOES NOT COUNT. Biblical Exegesis using the means about is what I am looking for.

11 comments:

Deviant Monk said...

Josh-

Concerning the historical context- which history of 1st century AD would you prefer someone consult? Since one's exegesis is to supposedly take into account (i.e., be mediated by) the historical context, wouldn't one's understanding of the historical context have to be as inerrant as you presume the scriptures to be? Otherwise, the clarity you claim for the scriptures is automatically negated.

Of course, the very usage of the historical context would seem to do the same, for if they alone are the repository of God's revelation, (as necessitated by sola scriptura) then it would seem that one shouldn't need to go outside of them to be able to understand them correctly, since they are so 'clear'.

Concerning the examination of the original language, grammar, etc... which texts would you prefer one to consult? Wescott and Hort? Textus Receptus? Which grammar is the absolute authority for interpretation?

Concerning the examination of verbs and prepositions- is one supposed to interpret each one as if each individual word is encoded with a specific meaning by either Paul or the Holy Spirit, or is one supposed to interpret them as if Paul was writing to people, many of whom were probably illiterate and rather uneducated, who most likely didn't have as good a grasp of the nuances of greek as modern exegetes do?

Philosophizing over Ephesians 1 DOES NOT COUNT.

That's too bad, because it's inevitable, even for you.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

All this shows me, is that you can't deal with the scriptures themselves. I will pray for you daily.

Deviant Monk said...

All this shows me, is that you can't deal with the scriptures themselves.

I'll be waiting for you to answer my questions, which are essential to begin to take up your challenge.

You said you wanted someone to take into account the historical context- how precisely does that fall under 'the scriptures' themselves? You may feel I am balking, but it is these very questions that have a part in the way in which I approach the scriptures.

I am curious- where do 'the scriptures themselves' say to employ the methodology you have required? In fact, within 'the scriptures' themselves you'll find the writers employing exegetical methods that are clearly contrary to what you have required. For example- Matthew interprets "Out of Egypt I have called my son" as referring to Jesus. (since he says that it was fulfilled when Jesus and his parents moved back to Judea) However, by following the exegetical method you have advanced, one could not help but conclude that such was clearly not what the passage Matthew quotes was meant to say, at least not in considering the meaning of the original Hebrew words, grammatical structure, historical and literary context.

When I was trained in exegesis, the recourse from such an obvious contradiction of the 'correct' exegetical method was that the Holy Spirit inspired it, and that the meaning was infused in the text on a latent level, and Matthew was inspired to employ such a curious exegetical methodology, which of course is a convenient out from the more reasonable conclusion that there is no absolute exegetical method.

Matthew isn't the only one to do this either- Paul often engages in this same sort of practice as well. And what does one do with the fact that sometimes the meaning in the Septuagint is expressed differently than in the Hebrew?

These (among others) are important issues in dealing with the scriptures, and I am willing to deal with them, so I don't see how you're assertion that I can't deal with 'the scriptures themselves' is of any validity whatsoever.

Exist~Dissolve said...

All this shows me, is that you can't deal with the scriptures themselves. I will pray for you daily.

I think they are legitimate questions. For example, may I consult RPC Hanson's history of the Christian Church in my research? What of the contributions of modern historical criticism? Are all of these appropriate sources, in your estimation, or do they fall under the umbrella of "philosophizing" about the texts?

As to dealing with the "Scriptures themselves," such phraseology would seem to negate the "challenge" you earlier mentioned about engaging the wider historical/linguistic contexts. Therefore, can we skip the arbitrary research and simply give an interpretation?

If such is not acceptable, I will need a list of acceptable historical/linguistic tools so that I might operate within the so-far murky criteria of your challenge.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Humor me guys, just give it a shot....It won't hurt you I promise. I won't even put any parameters on it. You know what I am looking for, so stop playing stupid and exegete a passage. It's really not that difficult.

Deviant Monk said...

I won't even put any parameters on it.

So you would accept an allegorical exegesis? cool.

You know what I am looking for, so stop playing stupid and exegete a passage.

I honestly don't know what you're looking for, although from previous posts yu have made one would be led to believe that what you're looking for is an exegesis that confirms what you already conceive to be true.

It is difficult to provide an exegesis when you don't deal with some of the issues I brought up, since, at least as far as I am concerned, they are foundational to the way in which one is going to exegete something.

I am still trying to determine how you reconcile your belief in the absolute clarity of scripture with an exegetical method (the one you defined as 'biblical exegesis') that effectively precludes over 99% of all Christians who have ever lived from ever discovering what the scriptures say. (99% is actually a concession- it would actually be %100.)

Lastly- which passage? I can't speak for E-D, but I certainly don't have time to do an entire chapter.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

"So you would accept an allegorical exegesis? cool."

Here you confuse exegesis with interpretation. Yes, the two are very much interconncted and inevitablly influence one another. However, there is no such thing as an "allegory" exegesis. Paul wrote to a specific people in a specific time with a specific agenda using specific words. That is what you are exegeting. When you exegete, answer these questions, as you would any piece of literature, even Dr. Seuss:

Who is the author writing to?
Why is the author writing this? (Does he state his purpose)
Why is the passage placed in the specific context it is of the entire book?
What literary genre is the work?
How does the Greek help us understand the meaning of the text? Nouns, verbs, prepositions, word structure, etc.


Once you have done this (the exegesis) then you will formulate an interpretation. So, I am asking for an exegesis. If you want to proceed further with your interpretation, then go ahead (I might send you "The Potter's Freedom" by James White. Sorry, entire chapter is the challenge. Can't handle it, no offer.

Deviant Monk said...

Here you confuse exegesis with interpretation.

No, I am not confusing them. If, as you admit, they are interconnected and influence each other, then there is no room to meaningfully distinguish them. The act of exegesis is an act of interpretation.

However, there is no such thing as an "allegory" exegesis.

Then I suppose you have never read anything by Philo, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, or Paul the Apostle.

Paul wrote to a specific people in a specific time with a specific agenda using specific words. That is what you are exegeting.

Of course he did, and I have not said anything to the contrary. However, Paul makes use himself of allegorical exegesis in Galatians to substantiate his argument, even though his exegesis is not, from a historical-critical exegetical approach, valid, or what the writer of Genesis meant when said writer wrote to the then present-day audience.

When you exegete, answer these questions, as you would any piece of literature, even Dr. Seuss:

Who is the author writing to?
Why is the author writing this? (Does he state his purpose)
Why is the passage placed in the specific context it is of the entire book?
What literary genre is the work?
How does the Greek help us understand the meaning of the text? Nouns, verbs, prepositions, word structure, etc.


I understand the historical-critical method of exegesis very well. That it is the only valid or the mode of exegesis is not a presupposition I am willing to make. Is it valuable?- yes, to some extent.

Once you have done this (the exegesis) then you will formulate an interpretation.

An interpretation has been formulated along the entire way. The suspension of one's interpretation through an objective processing of the text is a fantasy.

So, I am asking for an exegesis.

From this I am assuming an historical-critical exegesis? If so, then please answer the questions I posed through you earlier, since the very process you have required me to follow demands that they be answered. Otherwise, one would have to completely suspend one's intellectual integrity to proceed. For, if one is trying to understand who Paul was writing to and what he meant and the context, as well as trying to determine what words mean and all that, then those questions I posed to you earlier are of equal priority as what the scriptures themselves say, since they are going to be ultimately what mediates what Paul meant, according to the historical-critical model.

Sorry, entire chapter is the challenge. Can't handle it, no offer.

Why make such an arbitrary cutoff as a chapter?

If you have to have the whole chapter, then I suppose you will have to be patient, probably for a couple of months, as I have already mentioned that I simply do not have the time.

oh, and I've already read The Potter's Freedom. Send me something by T.S. Eliot.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

"However, Paul makes use himself of allegorical exegesis in Galatians to substantiate his argument, even though his exegesis is not, from a historical-critical exegetical approach, valid, or what the writer of Genesis meant when said writer wrote to the then present-day audience."

Are you certain about this claim?


"An interpretation has been formulated along the entire way. The suspension of one's interpretation through an objective processing of the text is a fantasy."

Are you sure, is this true in every case? How do you know this. This statement is unfounded for it would mean that you have the capability to enter into everyones brain and know whats going on.

You use inductive reasoning, which is not very good when you make such claims.

1. You believe that you cannot process the text objectively.
2. Exist cannot process the text objectively.

Your conclusion: No one can process the text objectively. However, this conclusion is not necessary, for in order for you to test this, you would have to test every single person with your own set of self-determined criteria, which is just that, something you have determined that "objective processing is" However, your own self determinations are unjustifiable, so therefore you cannot make the claim that one cannot process the text objectively, because it is an impossibility for you to test such a thing.

Why make such an arbitrary cutoff as a chapter?
Because I wanted to. You do not have to do it. In fact, I don't expect you to.

"oh, and I've already read The Potter's Freedom. Send me something by T.S. Eliot."

Sorry, you don't make the rules. I do.

Deviant Monk said...

Are you certain about this claim?

That would depend upon how you want to categorize certainty.

Are you sure, is this true in every case? How do you know this. This statement is unfounded for it would mean that you have the capability to enter into everyones brain and know whats going on.

If you want, I will make it more personal. Do you claim to be able to process a text objectively? If so, show me an example where you have not brought to your processing your cultural background, family history, linguistic matrix, philosophical worldview, and theological presuppositions.

You use inductive reasoning, which is not very good when you make such claims.

1. You believe that you cannot process the text objectively.
2. Exist cannot process the text objectively.

Your conclusion: No one can process the text objectively.


That actually is not my reasoning process. Rather, I would infer from the finitude of human existence and understanding that the kind of objectivity you are advocating is not possible.

However, this conclusion is not necessary, for in order for you to test this, you would have to test every single person with your own set of self-determined criteria, which is just that, something you have determined that "objective processing is"

You realize, of course, that to uphold this line of reasoning you would have to equally apply it to yourself. You appear to follow the same line of inductive reasoning you apply to me, albeit in an inverted fashion. However, your reasoning would seem to be negated by your other assertions that human understanding has been blighted by sin, an assertion which would seem to support my contention that objectivity is an unattainable goal.

After all the scriptures say, as many calvinists quote, that those without the Spirit cannot understand the things of the Spirit. It also says that those apart from God are darkened in their minds. Another way to say this would be to say that they are biased towards a certain way of thinking, which would certainly seem to preclude objectivity, since it is in fact antithetical to it.

Morever, the W. Confession seems to itself argue against objectivity even within those who are regenerated, in that it says that

This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated;[11] and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

I don't know if you assign any value to the W. Confession or not, so if it is a superfluous quote, I apologize.

Question for you- in those who have been regenerated, are their minds completely severed from their former disposition to sin? Does its influence remain in any form or visage? Are their minds completely and wholly renewed and made to transcend their naturally limited nature? Does the Holy Spirit protect the mind and rationality from the vagrancies of understanding and relating to existence?

Along a similar line- assuming the validity of the historical-critical method, does the Holy Spirit guide a person in their understanding of the historical context? Did the Holy Spirit guide the writers of secular history so that the context was intact and inerrant enough to allow the scriptures to speak with absolute clarity?

Robert said...

Another gobbeldy-gook post that should have been easy.

Boy! Someone better spread the news that the bible can't be exegeted and known! That's news!

Hey wait? Can anyone know what I meant by these words?

What do I mean by "spread" when used in conjuction with "news?"

Isn't the word spread used when speaking of Peanut butter? then what does that have to do with news? Maybe by knowing the culture and common speech of my culture you'd understand...nope..that can't be understood....

I'll file this one under: Can't know who George Washington was....