Notes on Hermeneutics 5

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Last night I went back to an issue that was raised last week. That involved the Greek word πας (“all” or “every”). Some Christians want to limit that word to refer only to selected people within the “all.” We also looked at κοσμος (“world”) to see whether there were textual reasons for limiting it to only a portion. Compare John 3:16 with John 1:9-10 and see whether such limitation works In the case of this word. The limitation is in opposite directions which leads to inconsistencies. The key was to recognize that presuppositions can and do influence how people read and analyze texts.

In the first class, I noted that there is no such thing as a “neutral observer.” Thus, we approach Scripture from the perspective of Christian, specifically aligned with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and the faith is confessed in the Book of Concord. If someone begins with a different perspective, then it makes sense that different processes can be used and different conclusions can be reached, not that it is necessarily incorrect, just different, but often incorrect as well.

We also discussed the differences between “word studies,” which are badly used and misunderstood, and external entailment, specifically looking at the verbal noun and unpacking what goes with that verb. (Voelz, pp. 188-192).

Another topic was the God-language debate and how we understand what the Bible uses for descriptions of God, sometimes “literal” (“God is creator”) and most often “non-literal.” Note that when we use “non-literal” it does not mean untrue. Then Voelz introduces a third category called “virtually literal analogies” — those that have a greater degree of correspondence such that we distance them from metaphors (under non-literal”).

We examined a controversial passage, 1 Timothy 2: 11-15. Specifically, we looked at whether γυνη should be translated as “woman” or “wife,” and correspondingly, whether ανδρος should be translated “man” or “husband.” Note that such a choice also influences how we apply the text. Although we didn’t have time, we could have explored v. 15 and who the implied subjects of the sentences are. We looked at 1 Corinthians 11-14 and Acts 18:24-26 relative to this text.

Some deep thinking in class last night, but good discussion and progress was made regarding how that affects our understanding of texts.

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