HERMENEUTICS PART 2
THIS PAGE CONTINUES FROM HERMENEUTICS PART 1
Literal, Allegory, Typology, Letterism etc interpretations.
In Semiotics we learnt that icons are direct pictorial representations. They require no mystical revelations.
We then learnt that symbols do not show explicitly their meaning as icons do and therefore what they signify must be taught or learned. A symbol can be assigned to anything and agreed upon.
The differences between the two is analogous to Literal interpretation and Allegorical Interpretation
1 Literal Interpretation Literal Interpretation is achieved by using such scientific method to extrapolate the intended meaning . This is in fact a direct interpretation and has no mystics.
Note that figurative expressions can be interpreted literally and have no hidden allegorical meaning. Eg. ‘ I leave it in God’s hands’. The sentence is figurative yet the literal meaning is obvious.
2. Allegorical interpretation is symbolic, analogic or mysterious. An allegory is simply a serious of metaphors used in a text.
Symbols abstract or concretes are used to represent thoughts, concepts, subjects and objects to reveal a hidden spiritual meaning. Allegories are used to bring clarity and understanding. Isaiah 5:1-5, Songs of songs 2:1
The dangers of allegory are that they can be made up and can be used to mean anything.
Allegorists believe that there are deeper spiritual meanings hidden beneath the literal. The Alexandriain Jews such as Philo and Aristobulous and church Fathers such as Clement of..
Alexandria, Origen and later Augustine were fond of allegories. Preachers using allegories must be mindful of its ramifications .
Allegories in the patristic school of Alexandria raised the eyebrows of suspicion and conflict from the patristic school of Antioch which was more driven to literal interpretation.
Allegory can be figurative, narrative or typological.
3. Moral allegory . The moral significance is extrapolated for application. Jer.2:13 Israel abandons the fountain to for a cistern.
4. Analogical sense. Interpretation by alluding to the eternal, afterlife , eschatological etc.
Origen’s three levels of allegory were the Flesh, Soul and Spirit. This has endured into contemporary exegesis where human actions are classified accordingly fleshy, soulish or spiritual
Clement of Alexandria held that there were five possible meanings to every passage: historical; doctrinal; prophetic; philosophical; or, mystical (symbolic).
Augustine style of hermeneutics 1. Interpretation must be guided by rule of faith, hope and love. 2.The Authority of the Church.(however Augustine was not referring to the Pope as the final Authority). 3. The context of the passage. 4.Allegory
3.Typology. Typological interpretation is the representation of something in the Old Testament to something in the New Testament. It is a foreshadowing of something in the New from the Old. Eg. Circumcision and Baptism, also, Rom;15:4
This method of interpretation is hyper literal. It exaggerates incidental details even to the letter.
In this way a preacher can take a word or letter and slant off the context or authorial intent. It disregards pragmatics or syntax. As such authorial intent is denied. It also ignores literary genre. To the Jews who used this method even the shape of letters were interpretive.
It is prone to anachronism and legalism and relativism. It is as dangerous as runaway allegory.
One of the principles of the Jewish allegorism was the regard of some passages as allegorical especially if those passages don’t flow with their narrative.
Eg. By this principle some Jewish interpreters deny Jesus as the subject in Isa 53 and ascribe it to Israel.
5. Existential method.
This approach also disregards authorial settings as to historical and cultural and audiences contexts. The interpreter regards the text to be timeless and relative. He regards the text simply as God’s message
It denies authorial intent and the results is radical subjectivism
6. The Grammatico - Historical method.
This is a correct method and is the same as pragmatics approach and same as using the tools of scientific interpretation described above.
7.Biblical numerology / Jewish Gematria :
This is the study of numbers in the Bible. Numbers are used to represent symbols and qualities. Some are used as spiritually or superstitiously.
Is human action a natural phenomena ?
Some Philosophers believe that human actions must be studied as a phenomena on a continuum with other phenomena. This approach of studies though not confined to human actions only is vital in biblical interpretations. It can be used to identify; patterns, types, prototypes, archetypes and antitypes.
Philosophers like Dilthey believe that human actions do not constitute natural phenomena because their meaningfulness are categorically distinct . He says unstructured bodily actions are considered mere physiological actions and not human actions. What constitutes human actions are mentally conceived and must be investigated as such. (1) Compare manslaughter with murder. Intention vs accident. (2) Discuss the case of the president and the alleged mocking of the disabled.
39. How then would one consider reflex actions?
All cultures found their ways to interpret oracles, dreams, myths, superstitions, body languages, philosophical thoughts, poetry, proverbs allegories, texts, songs, fictional materials.
The methodology is however cultural and case specific. This is to say that the understanding of one human action in one ethnic culture may mean something different in another culture.
As mentioned earlier, a word in one culture may be replaced by an euphemism in another culture. The word donkey for instance in our current language is preferred over the Old Testament denotation
In general the knowledge and application of Phonology, Semantics, Syntax and Pragmatics are all expedient for sound interpretation.
Ontology and epistemology in hermeneutics:
Does the constitution or structure have epistemological or hermeneutics significance?
The ontological analysis of an object must be given primacy in the determination of what method to be used in interpretation.
In bible interpretation ontology is of great importance.
For instance If Christians hold that Jesus is both God and human it then requires ontological exposition of how that becomes possible. Hence follows hypothesis such as dyophstism, Monophysitism etc.
The Bible is also full of symbolic objects for distinctive illustration. In Semiotics we try to understand meaning of signs and symbols in other words SIGNIFIERS and SGNIFIED .
ICONS, SYMBOLS AND INDEX
These are signifiers and what they represent are the signified.
Whiles Icons are literal resemblance of what they represent.
Symbols and indexes are assigned and learned.
In biblical symbols the objects chosen for their assigned usage depend on their ontological significance .
Jesus called James and John sons of thunder. He said Peter is rock and upon this rock He will build his church. The ontological value of the words thunder and rock give us the distinct meaning of the message . The character of James and John as we see when they wanted to call for fire to consume the inhospitable Samaritan’s and when they claimed they would be able to drink the cup of Jesus and thus desired no less a position than sitting on the left and right side of the Lord, indicates boldness whether in the negative or positive sense. So is thunder.
A rock by its constituents and structure provides a solid foundation for a building and here the Lord used it metaphorically.
40. What would be the meaning if the Lord had used mud instead of rock?
41. What are the ontological values of the dove that give us distinct significance in its usage.
Why is the dove chosen instead of an eagle or vulture.?
42. What was the wisdom behind the distinctive choices of the raven and the dove by Noah in the flood case?
43. Does ontological value regarding constitution and structure indicate teleological intent?
If yes will that determine or at least influence behavior and characteristics? How will that affect the lgbt argument.?
44. Should these be included in situational contexts of human actions in hermeneutics?
45. List all factors that you will include in situational contexts for the interpretation of Jonah?
46. What is the meaning of raising our hands when we pray?
47. What is the meaning of kneeling?
48 In deliverance services do the movements of our hands such as in ‘break every chain’ have any spiritual meaning or significance?
49. When we stand and move around as freeing ourselves, does that have any significance in the spiritual realm?
Idiographic vs nomothetic usage in biblical hermeneutics
Idiographic comes from the word idiograph which means a signature or a thing belonging or pertaining to a specific individual or group or organization. The idea here is exclusivity or individuality. This key word must remind you of authorial psychology.
Nomothetic comes from the word nomology meaning the study of laws. Eg Laws of the mind.
Nomothetic laws in philosophy pertains to general laws regarding an issue.
In biblical interpretation these two are relevant and must be studied where they apply.
There are cases that would not conform to generality. For instance miracles violate the laws of nature as we humanly understand it. Rationalists demand that natural laws or scientific evidence be obeyed at all times.
Rationalists deny miracles because miracles according to science violates natural laws.
Some Philosophers posit the same argument against religion. Their argument is that Christians cannot claim order of cosmos in defense of the existence of God and at the same time claim miracles.
But in God’s economy, miracles are not violations at all. They are also scheduled in God’s foreknowledge and are foreordained. In this sense prophecy is like history being read in advance.
A divine intervention may seem to the rationalist or naturalist as a violation of nomothetic order and thus deny its reality . But such interventions are actually following the order on the program.
Students need to understand the relations between PHENOMENOLOGY and NOUMENOLOGY
which is to say how we see things or things appear to us vs how God sees things or how they really are. In light of such understanding miracles are not contradictions to the order of the world.
Commercial breaks on a tv show are not part of the movie being played but they are part of the tv program.
The raising of Lazarus likewise all miracles is not a capricious act . As Jesus often said that it is so that we may believe. Every act that has, is or will occur in the world is already known by God and the necessity of his interventions are already accommodated in His program.
Prophecies are miraculous to us because they foretell future events including miracles. When such miracles are fulfilled, they are simply taking their place in order of a divine schedule and should not be seen as impossible.
Ezekiel 21:27 (KJV)
I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no [more], until he comes whose right it is; and I will give it [him].
1 ¶ And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 ¶ Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 ¶ When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
Here we see that there is a foreknowledge and foreordination and purpose for all miracles.
Christ could have healed all the sick in the entire world but he did not.
Hermeneutic Circle and incidental details
Philologist Friedrich Ast justifies the Hermeneutic Circle thus:
The foundational law of all understanding and knowledge is to find the spirit of the whole through the individual, and through the whole to grasp the individual
Incidental detail is a special focus on particular issue for the purpose of clarity or emphasis and not to be confused with the actual focus of the text nor generalized. Some metaphors are like that. Eg. Jn.15. Jesus as vine and his followers as branches does not imply that Jesus as vine is a creature since a vine is a creature.
The command to Hosea to marry a prostitute was not an endorsement of prostitution. It was the illustration of God’s love expressed in his grace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Hos 1:2, 3:1
Narrative v Imperative texts. (descriptive v prescriptive)
Biblical interpreters must be well aware of texts that are only describing and not confuse that with texts that are commanding or exhorting
Certain records such as act of Phinehas slaying Zimri and Cozbi Num.25 or the acts of, slavery or the acts of bigamy by some characters are only descriptive.
Hermeneutics and the Holy Spirit.
Can an unbeliever interpret the Bible for all its worth?
An unbeliever can interpret the Bible but not to its worth.
The Holy Spirit is needed to lead us into all truth. It is expedient to pray always before you read. Even as a Christian there is nothing wrong to pray before reading secular material for all truth is God’s truth.
Caveats in the use of background references.
One problem lies with the dilemma between background knowledge and facts.
It is known that sometimes an author can have a concept which is totally divergent from the background where he comes from or the immediate background around him.
This is the problem with Muslims and some secular authors having difficulty accepting Paul as an orthodox Apostle and to make things worse for them was Paul’s message of grace and the grafting of gentiles without the Jewish ceremonial laws.
Paul turned out with a concept totally divergent to his cultural belief and as a devout Pharisee he was not expected to herald the doctrine of Jesus which they believed was antithetical.
If Paul’s conversion was not associated with a public event with witnesses,
If it had been a private one internally without witnesses how could a background knowledge point to his epistles?
To solve such problem philosophers suggest that interpreters must try to comprehend the authorial psychology prior to and during the delivery of the original message or text.
Take for instance two blacks male adults within the same age group grown in a common social background in the late nineties. Their political orientation is obviously democrat with liberal thought. But then one becomes a Republican with conservative thought.
The Maccabees revolt was ignited by provocation act of some Jews who have betrayed their own culture and embraced the sacrilegious act of Antiochus to defile the Temple.
It is not strange in psychology the observation of radical situational changes that brings about radical changes in people’s psychology and behavior.
In school a bully or rascal promoted to be the head of the class could become the most humble and understanding person and the once perfect humble industrious kid could turn to be the most rebellious, lazy or whatever antithetical to what he once was.
This situation if not considered will lead to misleading hypothesis that in turn leads to false conclusions. Many philosophers such as Gadamer have flatly denied the possibility of knowing authorial intent.
Looking at the background of Donald J Trump, Christians are divided on the concept of being chosen by God. How could one get the true answer. What must one look for ? What hermeneutic methods must be used to get it right?
2. The ‘principle of compositionality’ does not flow with hermeneutic circle.
In the principle of compositionality it is agreed superficially that the words in the sentence constitute the meaning of the sentence . This application will not work for texts. This is true because the semantic value of sentences are not necessarily a function of the semantic value of a text as seen in the 1ki 22:15-18
A different principle must be used . ‘The text principle’. This will require the invocation of all the pragmatic tentacles- contemporary situational incident, authorial psychological, historical and cultural background, audience understanding etc.
MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE.
Scholars must not confuse meaning with significance.
Meaning is what the text represents or what understanding it interprets.
Significance is how the meaning relates to something.
In biblical hermeneutics significance is of great importance.
Whiles we may not live by the same cultures of the ancient biblical times yet some cross - cultural or culture-specific customs may have some significance in our culture today.
50. What is the significance of John 4 when Jesus broke the then political correctness by standing and talking with a Samaritan woman?
51.What is the significance of the washing of feet at the Last Supper ?
52. What is the significance of the eating and drinking of the Eucharist.?
SIGNIFICANCE AND COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.
Humans learn new things by comparing to the old things they know.
If the new things they learn is compatible to the old they absorb it .
If incompatible but of authoritative source some will reject it if they esteem it not of weighty significance. Thus a person may hear the truth of God which is incompatible with his lifestyle or beliefs but refuses to repent and chooses to ignore it because he regards it not with great significance. This explains to some extent why some Christians promote or hold on to passionate or groupthink ideas that are incompatible to their faith. Such behavior is referred as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance has the capability to influence ones interpretation. It strains one’s intellectual and exegetical purity. As a result, sentential semantics are invented or eisegeses employed to deny authorial intent.
What is the ‘liberal’ definition and application of ‘Separation of Church and State’ as opposed to its original intent held by conservatives?
HERMENEUTICS CONCERNS WITH SOME ONTOLOGICAL FORMATION, PHILOSOPHIES, MOVEMENTS
Modernism is the worldview ushered in by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment taught Rationalism Is the only viable way to truth. It depended on natural science and rejected anything supernatural. In this way the church becomes a superstitious non consequential entity.
Modernism elevates the autonomy of man. Man thus is the measure of all things
Postmodernism claims that no definite terms or absolute truth exists.
For postmodernist truth is relative .
This philosophy is self defeating . If no definite or absolute truth exists then that statement itself does not exist.
The Emergent Church
This church is a new confused movement that starts by t