Category: Quotes

Sometimes when you read you come across something you want to shout from the rooftops. This is my rooftop.

Biblical literature has two dimensions: historical intentionality, in which the author assumes certain shared information with the original readers; and literary intentionality, in which he encodes a message in his text. Authors either address (prophetic and epistolary literature with a present historical thrust) or describe (historical narrative with a past historical thrust) background situations. In both of these cases there are “shared assumptions” between the author and the original readers, information not found in the text, data that they knew but we do not. While semantic research and syntactical analysis can unlock the literary dimension, background study is necessary in order to uncover that deeper level of meaning behind the text as well as within it.Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Rev. and expanded, 2nd ed.; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 158–159.

Like much of our theology, our exegetical practices in most cases have been passed on to us by teachers who learned them many years earlier. Unless both our teachers and we ourselves have kept up, it is all too likely that our exegetical skills have not been honed by recent developments. Hermeneutics, linguistics, literary studies, greater grammatical sophistication, and advances in computer technology have joined forces to demand that we engage in self–criticism of our exegetical practices.D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (2nd ed.; Carlisle, U.K.; Grand Rapids, MI: Paternoster; Baker Books, 1996), 20.

As readers, we want to place ourselves in front of the text (and allow it to address us) rather than behind it (and force it to go where we want). The reader’s background and ideas are important in the study of biblical truth; however, this must be used to study meaning rather than to create meaning that is not there.Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Rev. and expanded, 2nd ed.; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 29.

Without a reasonable idea of the various literary conventions and styles of the ancient writers, we are in constant danger of imposing our own modern readings on the texts instead of understanding them on their own terms.Jens Bruun Kofoed, Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 54.

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