Resources for Theological Interpretation

I’m reading and writing on theological interpretation of Scripture at the moment, and I want to make sure I’m covering all my bases. Below is a list of books dealing with the subject; I’m going to try and compile a list of articles later. I’ve organized them by a) books specifically about TIS, b) hermeneutics books that directly deal with TIS or TIS issues, c) biblical theology books that directly deal with TIS or TIS issues, d) dogmatics texts on the doctrine of Scripture, and e) history of interpretation texts that assist in the ressourcement of premodern interpretive methods. Sometimes these divisions are rather arbitrary, as many of these books deal with at least two if not more of these categories. Nevertheless, here they are.

What am I missing here?

TIS Texts

Adam, A. K. M., Stephen Fowl, Kevin  Vanhoozer, and Francis Watson. Reading Scripture with the church: toward a hermeneutic for theological interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Bartholomew, Craig G., Colin J. D. Greene, and Karl Möller. Renewing biblical interpretation. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Paternoster Press ;, 2000.

Billings, J. Todd. The Word of God for the people of God: an entryway to the theological interpretation of Scripture. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2010.

Bockmuehl, Markus N. A.. Seeing the Word: refocusing New Testament study. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Bockmuehl, Markus N. A., and Alan J. Torrance. Scripture’s doctrine and theology’s Bible: how the New Testament shapes Christian dogmatics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Farkasfalvy, Denis M.. Inspiration & interpretation: a theological introduction to Sacred Scripture. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Fowl, Stephen E.. The theological interpretation of Scripture: classic and contemporary readings. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1997.

Fowl, Stephen E.. Engaging scripture: a model for theological interpretation. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Fowl, Stephen E.. Theological interpretation of scripture. Eugene, Or.: Cascade Books, 2009.

Green, Joel B.. Practicing theological interpretation: engaging biblical texts for faith and formation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2011.

Levering, Matthew. Participatory Biblical exegesis: a theology of Biblical interpretation. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.

Treier, Daniel J.. Introducing theological interpretation of Scripture: recovering a Christian practice. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Craig G. Bartholomew, Daniel J. Treier, and N. T. Wright. Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible. London: SPCK ;, 2005.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Daniel J. Treier, and N. T. Wright. Theological interpretation of the New Testament: a book-by-book survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J.. Theological interpretation of the Old Testament: a book-by-book survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Watson, Francis. Text, church, and world: biblical interpretation in theological perspective. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994.

 

Hermeneutics Texts

Leithart, Peter J.. Deep exegesis: the mystery of reading Scripture. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2009.

Smith, James K. A.. The fall of interpretation: philosophical foundations for a creational hermeneutic. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J.. Is there a meaning in this text?: the Bible, the reader, and the morality of literary knowledge. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1998.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J.. The drama of doctrine: a canonical-linguistic approach to Christian theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.

 

Biblical Theology Texts

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Elaine Botha. Out of Egypt: biblical theology and biblical interpretation. Bletchley, Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press ;, 2004.

Bartholomew, Craig G., Joel B. Green, and Anthony C. Thiselton. Reading Luke: interpretation, reflection, formation. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press ;, 2005.

Bartholomew, Craig G.. Canon and biblical interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2006.

Watson, Francis. Text and truth: redefining biblical theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1997.

 

Dogmatics Texts

Swain, Scott R.. Trinity, revelation, and reading: a theological introduction to the Bible and its interpretation. London: T&T Clark, 2011.

Webster, J. B.. Word and church: essays in Christian dogmatics. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2001.

Webster, John. Holy Scripture: a dogmatic sketch. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

 

History of Interpretation Texts

Hall, Christopher A.. Reading scripture with the church Fathers. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998.

Keefe, John J., and Russell R. Reno. Sanctified vision: an introduction to early Christian interpretation of the Bible. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

Lubac, Henri de. Medieval exegesis: the four senses of Scripture. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. ;, 1998.

Reader-Response Criticism and Theological Interpretation

I have to admit that when I first came across Reader-Response Criticism in seminary I was skeptical about what insights could be gained from such a method. My experience has been that even when a method is agreed upon by readers agreement of a text’s meaning is still harder to come by. This has led me to be more open towards reader-response when such readings are done along the grain of the text. I think Robin Parry captures this well in his short essay in the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Baker Academic 2006):

Christians can concede that different acts of reading are undertaken with different goals in mind and that theological interpretation is not the only goal a Bible-reader, even a Christian Bible-reader, may have. For instance, I may read Scripture in order to attempt a historical reconstruction of the events narrated, or to explore the gender relations encoded in the text. Such differing goals will yield different results and must be judged by criteria relevant to their goal. For the Christian, theological interpretation is the supreme goal for Bible-reading, and it too has its own rules of assessment (canonical context, the Rule of Faith, the gospel, etc.). Faith will also guide Christians in discerning which other goals may be legitimate subservient Christian projects (e.g., discerning a text’s redaction history) and which produce inappropriate ways of handling Holy Scripture (e.g., materialist interpretations) (661).

Sex, Beauty, and Songs

Today at the Gospel Coalition Andrew Shanks posted an article on the difference between Song of Solomon and erotica literature. Shanks points out that while Songs wants to celebrate marital love and beauty as expressed in human sexuality, erotica merely wants to celebrate and exploit sexuality.

I appreciate Andrew’s points there, and I hope this post doesn’t come across as me too harshly critiquing a fellow brother. But this post, and my reference to Andrew’s, are about much more than either of us individually. Instead, this post for me is about how evangelicals continue to read the Song of Solomon as not much more than a Christianized Kama Sutra. In my estimation it still seems like we are, as Christian readers of Songs, lowering the bar on the ultimate meaning of the book. Looking back to my series on theological method, Andrew’s article, along with much of evangelicalism, leaves out the bigger and more important hermeneutical question of how Songs points us to Christ and his gospel. I would say that perhaps Andrew merely wanted to focus on another aspect of Songs, not the primary one of pointing to Christ, but he makes this statement towards the beginning: “In his Song, Solomon’s primary goal is to describe love and beauty” (emphasis mine). This is commonplace in evangelicalism (think Driscoll’s sermons on the book). For many of us, Songs is primarily about the beauty of marriage, the intimate and physical connection that consummates it, the way to handle difficulty before and during it, etc. Don’t get me wrong – each of those things is important. Andrew’s point is important. Many other evangelical teachers’ points, that the book gives us a picture of what marriage ought to be and that we ought to emulate it, are important. But in my understanding these are neither the divine nor human author’s primary goals in any book of Scripture, including Songs. Rather, the Spirit’s, and through the inspiration of the Spirit the human author’s, primary goal is to show us Christ so that through seeing him we might see the Father. And it is only by seeing the Son in the power of the Spirit that we can then move on to understanding the implications for ethical living in areas like marriage and sexuality.

The human author of Songs actually gives us clues that he is talking about much more than beauty, sex, and marriage by making explicit textual connections and allusions to Davidic, Temple, Garden, eschatological, and Lady Wisdom language elsewhere in Scripture. This is highly charged OT language – it encompasses the major facets of OT eschatological hope. It gives us a picture of the wise king and his virtuous bride in a restored garden. It follows the search for a wise king and virtuous woman in the Hebrew Bible order of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, and Ruth. The mystery of marriage is that it a picture of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:22-32). There are abundant reasons for thinking this book is about much more than beauty or sex. But in the name of the historical-grammatical method, we focus on the physical to the detriment of its spiritual message.

I think we ought to continue to think through the way Songs confronts the sexual ethic (or non-ethic) of our day, as Andrew has. And once again, I am appreciative of that type of work. I think work on the moral sense of Scripture is vitally important. But our understanding and interpretation of Scripture must remember that the primary goal of both the Spirit and the human author is always to point to Christ so that by seeing him we might see the Father and be changed into his image.

 

Textual Method

Well after blogging for four days straight a week and a half ago, an unprecedented blogging feat for me, the law of averages kicked in and I haven’t written my final two posts on method.

I’ll try to get back into the swing of it with this post on textual method.

By textual method I mean that,

Christian interpretation ought to place primacy in hermeneutics on the text itself and not on reconstruction of a provisional, incomplete, finite, and uninspired historical framework.

There are a few things to note here, and I don’t pretend that any of these posts or this outline of method as a whole are complete, but here I want to focus on the locus of interpretation. Modernity has pushed our focus to empirical evidence for everything, including exegesis. Can it be verified? Is your interpretation objective? Are you approaching the exegetical task without bias? As I noted in my previous post on pneumatological method, this arrogance in regard to our ability to objectively approach the text and grind out the correct interpretation is rooted in modernity’s god-like claims of omniscience and comprehensive comprehension of data. This is seen most prominently in how interpretation has shifted from being focused on the actual text to focused on the historical framework constructed around it. Biblical scholars in modernity began constructing vast amounts of historical struts and trellises on which to place the text before they interpreted it. There are, as with any historical event or development, myriads of reasons for this, but primary in my opinion is an Enlightenment distrust of religious texts and especially the inspired nature of the Bible and, therefore, the need to find some other “objective” measure for interpretation besides the (in their mind flawed) text.

Of course for conservative biblical scholars (like myself), the text is still inspired, authoritative, and trustworthy. But evangelical biblical scholarship has capitulated to much of modernity’s methods by adopting many of the tools of the historical-critical approach while rejecting its conclusions about the nature of the Bible. Again, nowhere is this more prevalent than the continued propensity to build historical frameworks on which the text is hung for interpretation.

There are a number of problems with this approach, but the most important are that a) it is a capitulation to modernity’s idolatrous and vainglorious pursuit of “the objective” and b) it shifts interpretation’s focus from the inspired and revelatory biblical text to the uninspired, limited, interpreted, and perspectival historical reconstruction. Christian interpretation ought to be humble in its approach to the text and realize that Christians are given only one enduring form of special revelation by God – Scripture. Historical frameworks are not inspired, and yet they are so often the arbiter of how we approach the text. Should this not be reversed? Shouldn’t we approach our finite historical reconstructions through the lens of God-given and authoritative revelation and not vice versa?

A couple of caveats as I finish here.

  1. This is not to deny the importance of history, and especially the historicity of the text. It seems nonsensical to me to affirm the inspiration of the human authors by the Holy Spirit and then treat the historical verity of their material as unimportant or secondary. No, the biblical authors are claiming something about reality that is rooted in history, and to claim otherwise seems to ignore the biblical authors’ intent in writing their material. The historicity of the text is of utmost importance when we talk about the authority of the Bible (and if you can’t tell by now, I’m an inerrantist; if you didn’t see that coming, you haven’t read much of my blog…).
  2. This is also not to deny the provisional benefit of historical background and worldview reconstruction in interpretation. We ought to, however, greatly mitigate our reliance on that reconstruction in our interpretation of the Bible. The Bible already gives us a worldview – starting in Genesis 1:1 – and many (most?) times it gives us the historical background necessary to understand the author’s message.

For an article on this type of approach, I’d recommend Bruce Ashford and David Nelson, “Meaning, Reference, and Textuality: An Evangelical Appropriation of Hans Frei,” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 28/2 (2010): 195-216.

Canonical Method

The third fundamental component of a Christian theological method is that it ought to be canonical. This means that

it recognizes the Spirit’s inspiration of all of Christian Scripture and therefore the intertextual interrelatedness of it. This aspect also calls us to recognize the structure of the canon and its influence on interpretation of particular books and passages.

This foundation, like the others, follows on the previous ones. So, as noted in the definition above, recognizing the canonical nature of the scriptures and allowing that to dictate our interpretive practice is a direct implication of the fact that Scripture ultimately has one author, the Holy Spirit. Additionally, as we will see below, the intertextual connections and canonical shape of the Bible helps us to more clearly see how both the human and divine author testify to Christ, which points us again back to the first foundational aspect of method, its Christocentric nature.

First, a canonical method recognizes the intertextual connections between the various parts of the Bible. On the divine author’s side, the Spirit’s omniscience and sovereignty in inspiration allows and produces textual connections throughout Scripture. But we should also affirm that the human authors use an intertextual strategy throughout the Bible, beginning with Moses in the Pentateuch and continuing as each book is written. The authors of the Bible continually and explicitly quote, allude to, and echo previous parts of Scripture. So Moses quotes himself throughout the Pentateuch, Joshua 1 is textually connected to Deuteronomy 34, the Book of the Twelve (Hosea-Malachi) exhibits interlocking textual seams between the different books within it, and so on. The Old Testament grows organically through continually tying itself off to previously written parts of Scripture, and the New Testament continues this strategy by explicitly connecting itself with the entire Old Testament. So then, both from the perspective of the divine and human authors, we ought to search for and expect textual connections between the different parts of Scripture.

One final note here – this actually helps us see more clearly how the Old Testament speaks of Christ. Many times we read a story or a psalm and don’t see exactly how it is explicitly or textually about Christ. Many times, however, explicit textual connections to other parts of the Old Testament clarify how this so. My favorite (and the most controversial) example is the Song of Songs. The idea that this book is not really about Christ and the Church is so commonplace among Christians today that to say otherwise is deemed insane allegory, but I want to suggest that not only is Songs about Jesus, but it is explicitly textually so. I can’t go into all the detail needed to prove this here, but suffice it to say that the author of Songs very clearly quotes, alludes to, and echoes passages about the Davidic covenant, the Temple (specifically 1 Kings 7), eschaotological restoration (specifically Numbers 24), Garden imagery from Genesis 2, and Lady Wisdom language from Proverbs 1-9. Look at that list again – David, Temple, Garden, Restoration, Lady Wisdom. And while I can’t list them here, there are obvious and explicit textual connections to each of these – the author ties off his work textually to these highly charged, and indeed Messianic, OT themes.

Now for those who haven’t stopped reading after I broke the basic rule of evangelical hermeneutics – don’t allegorize Songs! – the second aspect of a canonical method is that it will recognize the importance of the ordering of the material both within individual books and within the canon as a whole. Not only has the Spirit authoritatively and infallibly inspired the biblical material, but it has also guided the Church in her reading of the Bible. Part of the people of God’s reception of Scripture includes ordering the books within the biblical canon. Although not an inspired task, we can nevertheless still say that it is a Spirit-illumined task, in that the Church always ought to be looking for guidance in her interpretation of the text. And make no mistake, ordering the books is an interpretation of the material. Of course, we ought to say here that the ordering of the material within a specific book (so the fact that Matthew 5-7 comes after Matthew 3-4) is inspired. But we can’t say the same about the order of the books within the canon – only that the order reflects a literary reading strategy illumined by the Spirit in the Church’s reception of the biblical material. This post is already very long, so if you are interested in why the order of the books of the Bible matters, see for instance John Sailhamer, Brevard Childs, Christopher Seitz, Stephen Chapman, Stephen Dempster, etc.

Pneumatological Method

The second foundational aspect of a Christian approach to Scripture is that method ought to be pneumatological in character. That is, it should be driven and empowered by the Holy Spirit. From the first post:

This means it will recognize the role of the Spirit in both inspiration and interpretation, and will note the Spirit-generated ecclesial context (both historically and contemporaneously) in which interpretation occurs. It also recognizes both the contextual and presuppositional nature of all interpretation and the Spirit’s ability to confront our context and presuppositions.

Although an emphasis on the Christocentric nature of Scripture is sometimes controversial in the field of hermeneutics, I think this aspect of a Christian theological method hits against many of our interpretive presupposition. We as 21st century interpreters have, in my opinion, been pre-conditioned to focus on an “objective” reading of the biblical material that privileges the human author over the divine, even to the point where the divine author is ignored or consciously set aside. What I am calling a pneumatological method pushes against this entire stance towards biblical interpretation.

First, a pneumatological method recognizes both the divine and human authorship of Scripture. In my articulation of this foundation, I would further say that the divine author holds the privileged position in terms of whose intent we are seeking to understand. This does not mean the human author’s intent is no longer important; on the contrary, genre, literary devices, and historical background – all facets related most directly to the human author – each still play an important role in interpreting the text. The divine author, the Holy Spirit, though, has the privileged position. Connections between different passages, the intent of the passage, and especially the Christocentric nature of individual sections are all ultimately tied to divine intent. Again, the human author can and does make intertextual connections and point to Christ, but recognizing the Spirit’s superintending authorship of Scripture allows us to more boldly recognize these intertextual and Christological connections.

Second, a pneumatological method recognizes that the context of interpretation is the church. Often in modern exegesis the exercise is isolated and individualistic. The Spirit, though, has birthed the interpretive community in its work of regeneration, and it is in this Spirit-born and Spirit-led community that a properly Spirit-illuminated interpretation can and should take place. We should further say that this community transcends time and space, and so a properly pneumatological method will recognize that the Spirit has guided interpreters in different parts of the world and in different times than our own. The tradition and global nature of the church can help us in the third facet of a pneumatological method – confronting our own preconceptions.

Finally, a pneumatological method recognizes that it is the Spirit-inspired text that should master the interpreter and not the other way around. We cannot simply put the text through our hermeneutics machine and expect to grind out objective interpretations like some kind of Bible sausage. God confronts us through his Word, and a Spirit-led interpretation will recognize the confrontational and transformational nature of Scripture. The goal of God’s revelation is to point to Jesus, not only to help us understand propositions about God but so that through understanding God we might be changed into the image of his Son (2 Cor. 3:17-18). A theological method that does not recognize that the text is meant to transform us is not reading Scripture as it is intended to be read. To say it in contemporary terms, the text ought to apply to us. The Spirit does this through the text on its own, by the way – we don’t have to “find the application.” Additionally, understanding that the text confronts us helps us to own up to our own cultural presuppositions. Everyone comes to the text with baggage, and we should expect for that baggage – presuppositions – to be confronted in the text by the Spirit.

Method

Yesterday I posted a quote from Gordon Spykman on biblical exegesis. I’ve been asked to expand on that, especially in terms of what it means for a Christian theological method. In the first chapter of my book (excited that it came out today!), I outline tenets of a proper Christian theological method, and Spykman’s quote bolsters my claims there. I hope to expand on each of these tenets in future posts, but for now they are as follows:

  1. A Christian theological method ought to be Christocentric, but within a properly Trinitarian framework. That is, it recognizes that God the Father reveals himself to his people in God the Son and by God the Spirit.
  2. A Christian theological method ought to be pneumatological. This means it will recognize the role of the Spirit in both inspiration and interpretation, and notes the Spirit-generated ecclesial context (both historically and contemporaneously) in which interpretation occurs. It also recognizes both the contextual and presuppositional nature of all interpretation and the Spirit’s ability to confront our context and presuppositions.
  3. A Christian theological method ought to be canonical, in that it recognizes the Spirit’s inspiration of all of Christian Scripture and therefore the intertextual interrelatedness of it. This aspect also calls us to recognize the structure of the canon and its influence on interpretation of particular books and passages.
  4. A Christian theological method ought to be narrative, in that it frames interpretation of particular passages within the broader framework of the biblical storyline – Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation. This aspect also recognizes that Christ stands as the goal of that story and that our lives need to be re-oriented within it.
  5. Finally, a Christian theological method, ought to be textual. This means that Christian interpretation ought to place primacy in hermeneutics on the text itself and not on reconstruction of a provisional, incomplete, finite, and uninspired historical framework.
  6. Although not on my official list in my chapter, I should also note here that each of these tenets is historically rooted in the history of interpretation.The previous five points have been the dominant stance of interpreters throughout church history until the Enlightenment. To privilege Enlightenment approaches to biblical interpretation, which are embedded in a serious mistrust of tradition, an elevation of human autonomy, a belief in the Bible’s lack of overall coherence, a desire for presupposition-less “scientific” objectivity, and a desire to break free from religious constraints, is, in my opinion, completely wrong headed. As a side note, in evangelical circles we have continued to affirm the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures while at the same time capitulating to Enlightenment-fueled methods of interpretation. We want to “be right”, focus on one passage without recognizing its place among the others, and jettison any sense of an appreciation of tradition when we interpret. As a result we have cut ourselves off from church history and the interplay of the Spirit-inspired canon and made interpretation into an exercise in which we crank the text through our method machine in order to “be right.”

Spykman’s quote primarily relates to #s 3 and 4 on this list. Christian interpretation must pay attention to the context of a passage. Ultimately this means giving priority to the context of the canon, and this context includes both the intertextual connections generated by the authorship of the Spirit (and the human authors’ use of previous Scripture) and the narrative context of the biblical storyline. Spykman also alludes to the Christocentric nature of the narrative, and this is key as well. Paying attention to the canonical context ultimately means giving credence to a Christocentric approach, since the canon as a whole and the narrative embedded in it are testimonies to Christ.

NOTE: my articulation of a theological method in my book is heavily reliant on Todd Billings, The Word of God for the People of God. If you haven’t read it, go buy it.

Intersections Between Biblical and Systematic Theology

My field is technically biblical theology, but I’ve found that the most helpful scholars are well-rounded and able to connect the disciplines. Additionally, in my PhD studies I came to the rather outlandish idea (*sarcasm*) that biblical studies, biblical theology, systematic theology (including historical and philosophical sub-disciplines), practical theology, and homiletics ought to form an interconnected whole. This of course is not an idea original to me, but SEBTS helped me to understand it and practice it. Recently I’ve been thinking specifically about the intersection between biblical and systematic theology. I wonder if specific biblical theological themes, such as the Temple, can help us not only connect BT and ST but also categories within ST?

For instance, as the Temple is the place where God meets man, so it is also may be a place where Christology meets eschatology.

Within the doctrine of Christology, one of the most important Old Testament identity markers for the person of Christ is that of Temple. Jesus’ identification of himself with the Temple of God helps theologians to develop a robust Christological identity that includes Christ’s rule over all things, his priestly office of reconciliation, his function as the restored image of God, and his communication of the real presence of God with humankind.

Not only does this help theologians identify and characterize the person of Christ, though, but it also aids them in connecting Christology with eschatology. The doctrine of eschatology is rooted in God’s promises to Israel in the Old Testament, and they can be summed up in the expectation that Yahweh will return to rule over his enemies, reconcile Israel to himself, restore Israel to be the image bearers of God, and dwell with them through his real presence.

These expectations are all realized in Jesus’ identification of himself as the Temple, and thus the Christological identity of Jesus as Temple functions also to define the eschatological reality of the inaugurated last days.

Hosea 4 and Doctrine of Sin

            The book of Hosea is a prime example of an entire book in the Hebrew Bible that contributes to a doctrine of sin . Like other doctrines, Hosea does not give an exhaustive account of sin, but describes sin from the perspective of Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness to YHWH.[1]

Hosea 4 proves to be a good example for theological reflection on sin because of the variety of  terms and concepts used.  YHWH charges Israel with faithlessness (4:1), no love (4:1), no knowledge (4:1), forgetting the law of God (4:6), rejecting knowledge (4:6), sinning (4:7-8), and abandoning YHWH (4:10).[2]

Hosea 4:1-3 begins as an introduction to YHWH’s accusation of Israel’s unfaithfulness that takes place in 4:4-5:7. YHWH first accuses Israel of not having faithfulness, steadfast love, or knowledge of God in the land (4:1). Because Israel lacks these elements sin takes form in the land through swearing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery, and bloodshed (4:2). The consequence is then that the land itself suffers (4:3). Vv. 1-3 describe that sins consequences not only affects individual persons, families, and communities’ relationship with YHWH (v. 1) and one another (v. 2). But sin also has affects on the created order (v. 3).

Hosea 4:4 also contributes an interesting perspective to a doctrine of sin because the sin of Israel’s leaders has effects on the rest of the people of Israel.  In v. 4 YHWH makes it clear that his primary dispute is with Israel’s leaders.[3] Because the prophets and priesthood have rejected knowledge of God and his law (vv. 6b-7), YHWH’s people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge (v. 6a). The people are judged for their lack of knowledge of God due to its leadership’s rejection of that knowledge. The result is that just as God’s law has been forgotten, so YHWH will forget the children of Israel (v. 6).

Two areas that need further exploration: sins effect on the created order, sin as a lack of knowledge of YHWH, the responsibility of godly leadership has in passing along knowledge of YHWH, and the affects this has on those under that leadership. Any thoughts?

Bibliography

Boda, Mark J. A Severe Mercy: Sin and Its Remedy in the Old Testament. Vol. 1 of Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009.

Dumbrell, William. The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002.

Garrett, Duane A. Hosea, Joel. The New American Commentary. Vol. 19. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.


[1]          William Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002).: 171.

[2]          Mark J. Boda, A Severe Mercy: Sin and Its Remedy in the Old Testament, Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures, vol. 1, (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009).: 297.

[3]          Duane A. Garrett, vol. 19A, Hosea, Joel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 118.

The Cohesion of the Biblical Witness: Inner-Biblical Use of Scripture–Mark Boda

I’ve been reading through Hearing the Old Testament edited by Bartholomew and Beldman. I thought this quote from Mark Boda was worth passing along.

This hermeneutical agenda for biblical theology, which arises from the self-witness of Scripture, explains the ubiquitous interconnections between the various parts of the canon. The Old Testament canon itself displays inner cohesion through the regular use of quotations, allusions, and echoes of earlier Old Testament passages. This trend, which is observable in the Old Testament, only increases in the New Testament. It is important to take a closer look at this phenomenon of inner-biblical connectivity by looking at the ways the New Testament writers used the Old Testament and the ways Old Testament writers used other parts of the Old Testament. The biblical witness itself lays the foundation hermeneutically for Christian biblical theologians to follow as they seek to read the Old Testament as Christian Scripture.

Mark J. Boda (“Biblical Theology and Old Testament Interpretation” in Hearing the Old Testament, ed. Craig Bartholomew and Dave Beldman, Eerdmans, 2012). 135