"Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ." - George Washington

Thursday, February 7, 2013

First week update


The hermeneutics course opened on Friday, so I'm already one delightful week into it. And it is just as awesome as I was hoping it would be! I've been taking so many notes, I hardly know where to start, but I'll try rambling and see where it goes.

I did read through the dictionary, most of it (the last third is just terms not strictly related to hermeneutics, just general Biblical knowledge, so I didn't put any pressure on myself to get through that.) My intention was just to get a leg up in the course, but it turns out I'll have to read through it as assigned homework anyway. So I'm set.

But more than just becoming savvy with the concepts and terminology, I learned that there is a liberal and conservative side to hermeneutics - apparently people don't just read the Bible, they have to discredit it too. (Satan wouldn't leave untouched the methods of interpreting Scripture, now would he?)

The liberal side has many theories, and variations, but one term to sum it up would be allegory. They view Scripture sometimes as fallible, not always - or ever - meant to be taken literally or at face value. The most extreme thread of the last century even affirms that is it totally impossible to know what the Biblical author intended when he put pen to paper, and that the words are their own autonomous being. The only way they are to be understood is to interact with them and come up with your own conclusions based off your your emotions and experience with the text.

A bunch of horse apples, right?

I'm so grateful that the professors directing this course have nothing to do with those theories. In the first lecture (well the second one, after the first one about the syllabus, and classroom protocol, etc...) Daniel Akin, the President of SEBTS, laid out the necessary precommitments of anyone taking the class, or anyone even willing to interpret the Bble correctly. Namely:

> Commitment to a high view of Scripture // Matthew 5:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21
Scripture is inspired, and inerrant. Jesus Himself believed the Bible was inerrant and inspired, words of God. Akins quoted "To question the Bible is to question Christology." If you don't believe Scripture to be infallible, then you throw into question the authority of Christ.

> Conviction of the profitability of all Scripture // 2 Timothy 3:14-17
No one area of the Bible is more inspired than another, all is written by the Holy Spirit, one author through many. Every word of it is necessary, and makes up a complete whole.

> Calling to rightly divide the Word of Truth // 2 Timothy 2:15
The purpose of hermeneutics is to make clear the meaning (not the significance, big difference - more on that in a moment) of a passage.

> Commitment to think about what Scripture means and how to rightly apply it // James 1:22-25
Being a doer, not just a hearer. The interpreter must be sincere about handling the Word, and sober about proclaiming it correctly.

> Willingness to be confined to the intention of the Author // 2 Timothy 4:1-5
What the author says is what the interpreter must say. If it is outside the author's intent, it is outside the intent of the Holy Spirit and outside the realm of authority. And, authorial intent IS retrievable through the text.

I'm confident of some good things to be learned, by seeing the standard set so high! I pray that God will keep me discerning.

I must explain what I meant earlier about meaning versus significance. When the term "meaning" is used, that refers to what the text intents, what the unchangeable message is that the author is conveying. The term "significance" is more liberal, meaning what someone takes from the text, regardless of the message of the text itself.

This is already a really long post for me, but I'll finish by explaining that all of the points above, as well as things I have mentioned in a previous post, such as sola Scriptura, make up the conservative side. Literal interpretation, typology (i.e., Christ being the scapegoat, the Passover lamb, etc.) and applicability are the healthy alternatives to allegory.

Thankfully, this course is all work-at-your-own-pace, so I don't have to worry about the syllabus, or deadlines or grades... Whew. I feel sorry for the suckers that do. *wink*

That's not even a fraction of my notes, but I'll cut off here and pick up again later. Blessings!

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