Biblical Intepretation Past & Present by Gerald Bray

33 – “Perhaps the most serious problem, and one which is common to the church as a whole, is the danger of neglecting parts of the canon to the point where they become effectively non-canonical, even if they are still printed in our Bibles…Maintaining the living authority of the entire canon is one of the church’s hardest duties, and it has far more practical implications than the rather theoretical issue of whether books can be formally added or dropped. It is one of the main tasks of biblical interpretation to show the inner consistency and spiritual relevance of the entire text – a matter to which we must now turn our attention.  

35 – An important contributor to the canon and biblical interpretation are three books by Brevard Childs Introduction to the OT as Scripture, The NT as Canon: An Introduction, and Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. 

41 – Another tension, closely related to the former, is that between exegesis (reading out of the text) and eisegesis (reading into the text). Even the most careful scholars are liable to draw conclusions which are not warranted by the evidence, usually because they have an agenda which led them to study a particular aspect of the Bible in the first place…It requires enormous self-discipline to avoid this danger, as those who listen to (or prepare) weekly sermons know only too well. 

42,43 – At the same time, we have to be careful not to submerge the text in our own context, to use it for ends which would have been quite foreign to the original writers, and would probably have been rejected by them…Regardless of what our sympathies may be for these peoples, we must insist that the integrity of the biblical text be preserved. It can never be contextualized to the point of losing its transcendent authority. The challenge of the biblical message will always come from outside our situation, and speak to us with a voice which is not bound by time and space-with the voice of God himself. Lose this, and all is lost. The church today must remember that the text of Scripture stands in creative tension over against the context of the world in which it was produced, and to which it now speaks. In this way alone is its message likely to be heard in our time, as it was heard in the past. 

139 – I would like to read about Peter Lombard and Peter Abelard. According to Bray, the 16th century Reformers were brought up on Lombard and regarded him as the classical representative of medieval theology. 

141 – Peter Comestor or Manducator (‘the Eater’) so called because of his appetite for the Word of God. 

151 – Praedicatio (preaching) …But when preachers began to turn their attention to the laity in the secular world, a different approach was required. It is not hard to see that in the secular context, moral exhortation soon gained the upper hand, and it was preaching more than anything else which encouraged medieval scholars to accentuate the moral sense over and above the allegorical or mystagogical ones.  

175 – William Tyndale (1494-1536) His New Testament of 1526 was accompanied by an important introduction, A Pathway into Scripture, which is the oldest hermeneutical study in English, and often regarded as the ultimate source of later covenant theology…he was theologically independent of Luther, and in some ways closer to the Swiss Reformers. 

179,180 – Robert Estienne (Stephanus) (1503-1559) His large edition of the NT (1550) was the first to contain a critical apparatus, and the next year it was reissued with verse divisions which have now become standard. His text formed the main basis of the Textus Receptus, which was first printed as such in 1633 

184 – Kasper Olevianus (1536-1587) and  Zacharius Ursinus (1534-1583) These colleagues collaborated in the outworking of covenant theology. Ursinus also wrote the Heidelberg Catechism (1562), which is still widely used today. 

184 – Robert Rollock (1555-1599) First Principal of Edinburgh University (1585) and a popular preacher in Scotland, he was one of the main disseminators of covenant theology in that country. 

185 – Theodore de Beze (Beza) (1519-1605) He was Calvin’s successor at Geneva, and the main architect of systematic Calvinism, as this is now understood.  

186 – Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669) A German Calvinist who rejected the more rigorous systematizations of his school, he wanted to devise a purely biblical theology, of which his major work (Sum of Doctrine on the Covenant and Testament of God)…Cocceius’s exposition of covenant theology, which drew on both German and Englsih sources, became the standard for later generations. Cocceius was able to develop his idea of the covenant in terms of a successionof historical periods and events, and is thus the ancestor of both salvation history and modern millenarianism.  

187 – William Ames (1576-1633) …contributed greatly to the development of a distinctively English form of covenant theology which spread widely on the Continent, thanks to his professorship at Franeker in Friesland (1622-1633). 

192 – The key issue which distinguished Protestants from Catholics was whether Scripture was self-interpreting, or whether it required the teaching authority of the church to make it plain. 

199 – Luther’s doctrine of the Word of God extended also to this concept of the importance of preaching. In his mind, a believer was supposed to receive the oral Word in preaching, based on the written Word in Scripture, so that his heart might be prepared to receive the living Word in the sacrament. In this way, preaching, the Bible and the life of the church were all held together in a unity expressed by the concept ‘the Word of God’. 

200 – Tyndale’s hermeneutic 

204 – Covenant theology developed slowly over a generation or more, but its full flowering can be seen in the writings of Johannes Cocceius, whose principles can be outlined as follows. 1) The Bible is the story of God’s relationship to humankind 2)God’s first covenant was with Adam in the Garden of Eden. It was a covenant of works 3)Adam disobeyed God, and his covenant was broken. However, God spoke to fallen humankind a second time, in the covenant made with Noah. 4)The covenants made with Adam and Noah were inadequate for salvation. At a later time, God chose Abraham to be the father of all who believe. 6) God renewed his covenant with Israel a second time, in David 7) Christ came to be the fulfillment of the covenant promises made to Abraham, and also of those made to Adam. 

214 – A great comparison of Luther and Calvin concerning the text from Habakkuk.  

237 – Hugo de Grot (Grotius) (1583-1645) prominent theologician of staunch Arminian principles 

237 – Gerhard Jan Vossius (1577-1649) A close friend of Grotius and Arminian. 

238 – Campegius Vitringa (1659-1722) An orthodox Calvinist, whose exegesis was marked by an unusual freshness and penetration. His commentary on Revelation introduced millenarianism into pietistic circles, where it became very popular according to Bray. 

241 – Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705) His major work Pious Requirements) advocated a thoughtful interpretation of the Scriptures based on the literal, original meaning of the text, and freed as far as possible from dogmatic assumtions. 

241,242 – August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) A most important exponent of pietistic biblical interpretation.  He believe individual passages of Scripture must be read in the context of the whole, which was the person and work of Christ. Historico-grammatical exegesis was the key to a deeper, inner understanding of the text, which would automatically lead to holy living. Bray lists some very important books by Francke. 

284 – (1881) Wellhausen’s article on Israel sparks controversy after being published in the Encyclopedia Britannica 286 – Moses Stuart (1780-1852) He taught at Andover Seminar in the USA from 1810, and developed American Old Testament scholarship during that time. He was a great admirer of Eichhorn and Herder… 

287 – Theodore Parker  (1810-1859) The most radical American biblical critic of his day and believed that critical scholarship would eventually destroy the Bible’s authority… 306 – Bray analyzes the move away from the literal to the spiritual sense of Scripture through Hengstenberg, Alexander, and Spurgeon and what they say about Psalm 22. 311 – The first critical scholars to insist that there had to be a Second Isaiah were Doderlein (1775), Eichhorn (1780-83) and Gesenius (1820-21). They were following a suggestion first put forward by the medieval rabbi Ibn Ezra in the 12th century…the critical study of Isaiah and the reaction to it typify the hermeneutical struggles of the nineteenth century. 330 – August Friedrich Christian Vilmar (1800-68) Author of a six volume commentary on the Bible, Vilmar occupies an important place in the history of interpretation. Long before Schweitzer, he objected to the commonly held idea that historical criticism could provide a better understanding of Scripture than that held by earlier generations. He drew a clear distinction between theology, as the study of God and his works, and exegesis, which he regarded as primarily a literary technique…Vilmar was severely criticized for making it… 

339 – Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938) Professor of NT and by far the most notable conservative NT scholar of his day. 

342 – Andrews Norton (1786-1852) A Unitarian minister and professor at Harvard from 1813, he played a major role in introducing biblical criticism to the Harvard Divinity School, and from there to the rest of the USA.  354 – Grammatico-historical criticism relied heavily on exegetical principles which had been worked out since the time of Erasmus and which continue to be regarded as valid today. The belief that the meaning of a word was to be determined from its context and from usage elsewhere remained basic to this approach. The assumption  that the original text must have made sense to the writer and to his first readers was also accepted without question…Because of its close attention to detail and its refusal to move away from the actual texts themselves, grammatico-historical criticism came to be regarded as the most conservative; form of biblical study practiced in an academic environment.  

376 – During the 1920s, the conservatives lost control of the major denominations, and were driven from Princeton Theological Seminary, which had been their great stronghold.  

377 – Another important feature of this period (1920) was the growth of ecumenism.  

378 – There was an important difference between postwar conservatives and their forebears of a generation or more earlier. Whereas the latter had based their views on doctrinal orthodoxy, the new conservatives played by the rules which the critic had established. 

422 – Barth’s work shook the German theological world…the war also created a mental climate in which apocalyptic and eschatology could flourish.  

431 – Nils Alstrup Dahl (1911- ) A Norwegian student of Bultmann’s, he taught at Oslo and at Yale, and is therefore a bridge between the German, the Scandinavian and the English speaking worlds. He was one of the initiators of the ‘new quest’ for the historical Jesus. 

468 – Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) He was  Professor of Philosophy at Marburg, where he had a great influence on R. Bultmann…his classic work is Being and Time (1927), which remains fundamental for modern hermeneutics. Though not a biblical scholar in any sense, Heidegger has provided a philosophical framework which underpins modern interpretation of the Bultmannian type, and which has proved to be very fruitful in the development of current hermeneutical theories.  

469 – Amos Niven Wilder (1895 – 1993)He taught at Chicago and Harvard. He was the founder of literary criticism of the NT in North America, and has written a number of important studies on religious language, including Eschatology and Ethics in the Teaching of Jesus (1939).  

469 – Hans George Gadamer (1900-) A pupil of Heidegger and Bultmann…His classic work, Truth and Method (1960), ranks with Heidegger’s Being and Time as one of the main foundations of modern hermeneutical studies. 470 – Brevard Springs Childs (1923-) Professor at Yale, he is a leading exponent of biblical theology and canonical criticism. His work has often been criticized, but it seems likely that the main thrust of his approach will be very influential in the years to come. 

470 – James Barr  (1924- ) He taught at Montreal, Edinburgh, Princeton, Manchester, and Oxford…A savage critic of the ‘word study’ approach to biblical theology typified by G. Kittel…he has attacked conservative evangelicals in a series of books and articles denouncing ‘fundamentalism’. 

480 – Gerhard Maier – A conservative evangelical, went on to argue that only a thoroughgoing theological approach to the data, taking their historicity into account but not being mesmerized by it, could restore biblical hermeneutics to life. He has developed this perspective in his Biblical Hermeneutics, which argues for a recovery of the doctrine of revelation. For Maier, this is linked to the voice of the Holy Spirit bearing witness in our hearts by faith. 

486 – The main weakness of the literary approach, interesting and important thought it is, is that it too often puts form before content. Beautiful meaninglessness is preferred above ugly significance – an aesthetic aberration which cannot do justice to the gospel of him who was ‘without form or comeliness’. In the Bible, literature is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and literary critics must therefore accept that they can never play more than a secondary role in its interpretation. 

507 – To them the most important thing is ‘orthorpraxis’ as opposed to ‘orthodoxy’. ‘Orthopraxis’ means putting theology to work in a practical way in order to manifest the kingdom of God in deeds, not merely in words.  

508 – Common to the hermeneutic of ‘orthopraxis’ is the belief that the interpreter of Scripture must begin with the real problems which people in the world are facing, and look for answers to them in the Bible. This is in sharp contrast to the traditional, ‘orthodox’ model of interpretation, which starts with the Bible and seeks to apply its teaching to contemporary reality. According to most proponents of ‘orthopraxis’, the traditional approach runs the risk of being irrelevant, because it asks questions which nobody else is asking, and proposes solutions which nobody else understands. Opponents of the ‘orthopraxis’ model reply that it is far too subjective, and is liable to take the Bible out of context…At the same time, ‘relevance’ can never be the only criterion for interpretation, since the Bible speaks to our situation from the outside, as well as from within.  

555 – The Warfield (Old Princeton) approach to interpretation is vitally important to our position at PBC. Read 555-560 

586 – If preachers, faced with the need to be relevant to their congregations, have to impose their own agenda on the text in order to satisfy people’s spiritual needs, the historicity of Scripture will be fatally compromised; that is the lesson of allegorical interpretation. But if scholars cannot relate their historical studies to contemporary needs, then they are denying another important aspect of the historicity of Scripture: its ability to speak to people of different times and places, and to relate to their particular situation.

Vince Lombardi

“The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert. “

Loud Music

Since I live near one of the most prestigious universities in the United States I attend several sporting events, which are played at the highest level (NCAA DI). Attending events like this allow you to watch some of the strongest stellar athletes perform with extremely controlled precision. The control they have over their bodies brings crowds out to watch. I thoroughly enjoy watching the contests, but what I hate most about athletic events today is the horrible selection of music and not only that but the volume at which it is played. Either my ears are extremely sensitive, which my wife would disagree with, or the majority of people are completely deaf. I doubt both! I believe people know exactly what they are doing with music and they are influencing a host of people with a philosophy of life.

“Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine musci from teh day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart. ”

Shinichi Suzuki

Job 28-31

Job 28: Job’s Search for Wisdom
Job suggests it is impossible for man to desperately look for wisdom and tempting to exchange precious goods for it. However, wisdom cannot be paid for by the treasures of this earth.  

“God understands its way, and He knows its place.For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.When He imparted weight to the wind and meted out the waters by measure,When He set a limit for the rain and a course for the thunderbolt,Then He saw it and declared it;He established it and also searched it out.And to man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” 

Job 29: Job’s Fleeing Glory
Job 30: Job’s Humiliating Experience
Job 31: Job’s Confident Integrity

Job 21-26

Job 21: A Wrestling Match

Job is wrestling with why God would allow godly to go through suffering and the wicked prosper.


Job 22: The Smart-Aleck

Eliphaz encourages Job to yield to God and make peace with Him for that is the only way to restoration. Eliphaz suggests through questions and statements that Job is wicked and that is why God is allowing him to go through this terrible scenario.  

Job 23: Job Committed to God

“But HE knows they way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” 

Job 24: Job Accuses God of Injustice

Job 25: Bildad Argues God is Just

Job 26: Job Argues with Bildad

Job 17-20

Job 17:Job is in tremendous distress and his friends are looking at Job’s spoils with greedy eyes. Despite the circumstances Job suggests that the “righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger.”  Job 18: Bildad describes the life of the wicked, which closely resembles what Job is going through now. It is quite obvious that Bildad is implying that Job is wicked and suffering the consequences of being ungodly.  Job 19: His Redeemer LivesJob crosses the boundary in his retaliation to Bildad’s speech on wickedness. Job suggests that if anyone has committed wrongdoing it is God. Job has cried for God, shouted to God, tried to draw close to God, etc. The aching of Job’s heart is manifested… 

  • My honor is stripped
  • The crown of my head removed
  • My hope has been uprooted like a tree
  • I am surrounded by God’s anger
  • I have troops surrounding my tent.
  • Brothers are far from me
  • Acquaintances have estranged me
  • Relatives have failed
  • Intimate friends forgotten
  • My wife considers my breath offensive

 Despite the inner and outer turmoil Job finishes this thought with, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last he will take His stand on the earth.” Job 20: Zophar Disturbed by Job’s SpeechZophar was insulted by Job’s speech and responds with a severe critique.  

Job 16: Friends Painful Words

In verse one through five Job suggests it is very easy for those who are healthy to cast stones / words at the hurting. Our tongue is extremely dangerous so we must use careful discretion when speaking with others. The following verses Job depicts a the terrible scenario that God has allowed to come into Job’s life. Job cries out to God in weeping and mourning speaking to his Advocate on high. The pain seems to be unbearable, but Job goes to God.  

Peter Kreeft: Philosophy 101 by Socrates

“No questions resist certainty and closure more than moral questions because nothing is deeper and closer to us. Try to measure the earth, and you may succeed, and you may think you are wise; but try to measure yourself and y our life’s meaning and things like truth, goodness, and beauty, and you will find that you are swimming in water far over your head. The world in your head is much bigger than the world outside your head.”

Speaking of philosophy versus rhetoric…

“…clarity is the servant of truth.”

“Proof of the power of rhetoric (advertising) today is very simple: rhetoric controls money, and money controls power. If you want to find that invisible thing, power, find the visible money trail. And one of the surest and quickest ways to get rich in our society is to learn to lie to people about how much they need your product.”

 “Death’s approach has a wonderful power to clarify and simplify things. Rhetoric loses its power in the face of death. Death is the friend of truth. Dr. Johnson says that he knows of no thought that so wonderfully clarifies a man’s mind as the thought that tomorrow morning he will be hanged.”

“To philosophize is to demand light. All opinions must be examined. Terms must be clearly defined, reasons and evidence given, and assumptions exposed. This is not just logis; it is justice, fairness, and honesty. This is also the essential method of science as well as philosophy.”

37 – “The god tricked Socrates into becoming the world’s first philsopher by his riddle. Instead of revealing it directly, instead of telling Socrates what to do, he used the Socratic method on Socrates, the method of planting a puzzle in a mind and watching it grow.”