Friday, November 20, 2009

Practical Scriptural Interpretation

I've been doing some organizing in my head lately with regard to the way we read and interpret scripture, due largely to the influence of my friend, coworker, and tutor, Jason Hood. He's a firm believer that Scripture teaches us by example of its New Testament authors how to read itself. In fact, a paper he wrote on this very concept is getting a lot of buzz in scholarly christian circles. (Yes, those exist.) I was first introduced to the concept of multiple correct interpretations by D.A. Carson back in April when he spoke at a Union University Bible Conference on the use of the Old Testament by the author of Hebrews. Anyhoo, I think I've synthesized the main Scripturally-modeled approaches down into 3 categories. According to its own teaching, we must submit our lives to Scripture:
  1. Doctrinally - Viewing lessons in scripture as intended to change our minds by correcting wrong beliefs (logos).
  2. Morally - Viewing lessons in scripture as intended to change our behavior by distinguishing between right and wrong actions (ethos).
  3. Typologically - Viewing lessons in scripture as intended to change our hearts by pointing to the ultimate Lover of our souls (pathos).
As you can see, I've run this collection through the classical transcendent categories to defend its sufficiency (is there another way?). I think it's possible (and indeed sometimes necessary) to read Scripture correctly through more than one of these lenses at a time, but I don't think one can honor the Scripture at all without seeing it through at least one of them.

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