Over at Fragmenta, Matt writes:

Peter Leithart suggests that “linking intention to the literal [sic] sense, while acknowledging multiple senses, makes possible a proliferating richness of meaning while preventing what Eco calls hermeneutical drift.” But I don’t care about proliferating meaning. I want to know “what Saint Paul really said” — which may or may not be “literal”, a word fraught with over-simplistic dichotomies. The other, “multiple senses”, if they differ from the author’s sense, are misreadings, in both the Bloomian sense of the word, and in the simplest sense of the word: they are wrong, and if we rely upon them, we are building with straw, setting ourselves up for future refutation and exposure as fools. As I attempt to relate one text to another within the Bible, these other “multiple senses” will be hindrances or distractions. Worse, if we embrace other senses of the text than the ones intended by the author (and there may be more than one of these!), we are likely to become the future “Old Perspective” or the future “Law/Gospel hermeneutic,” fighting losing rear-guard actions against the tide of new scholarship that is, horrifyingly, armed with something much closer to the original authorial meaning. (That, in a nutshell, is the reason for the success of N.T. Wright and other NPP authors who pose such a threat to the old perspective.)

On this occasion I can’t quite agree with Matt, although I apprecaite and share many of his concerns with other approaches. Whilst the original meaning of the text is always important and should not be lost sight of, the meaning of the text is far greater than its original meaning. I appreciate the value and importance of such readings of Scripture that Matt speaks of. However, important as such readings of the Scriptures are, it was not the approach adopted by the apostles, who habitually interpreted the OT in a manner that placed the accent on the multiple senses that went beyond the original sense and occasionally even appeared to run contrary to it.

I am presently enjoying reading Peter Leithart’s commentary on 1 & 2 Kings in the SCM theological commentary series. In the series preface, R.R. Reno makes my point as follows:

Precisely as Scripture—a living, functioning text in the present life of faith—the Bible is not semantically fixed.

I suspect that Matt and I differ to some extent in our understanding of what the task of interpreting the Scriptures entails. However, many of his concerns are my own and I recommend that you read his post, even if you end up disagreeing with him on a number of points.
***Peter Leithart has some great thoughts on Matthew 2. Among other things, he observes the presence of an exile-return inclusio in the gospel.
***Jon seems to have caught the linking bug, poor fellow. Posting long lists of links is a sure sign that your blog has jumped the shark. He has also posted a copy of his recent article on the 1689 Baptist confession, which I am sure that a number of readers will enjoy reading, as I did.
***Joel has been posting on the subject of the PCA report on the FV/NPP on his blog recently:

PCA report on NPP/FV: a summary
PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 1
PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 2
PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 3
PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 4
PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 5
PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 6
PCA report on NPP/FV: conclusions
On the subject of the PCA report, I would also recommend this very interesting perspective on the report from the perspective of canon law, written by Jordan Siverd.
***Time has an interview and a cover story on Archbishop Rowan Williams. There is also a lengthier MP3 version of the interview available here [HT: Thinking Anglicans].
***Adrian Warnock has an interview with the authors of Pierced For Our Transgressions. Frustratingly, I am still waiting for Amazon to deliver the copy that I ordered well over a month ago.
***Chris Tilling starts reviewing Chris VanLandingham’s provocative new book, Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul. If VanLandingham is right, then practically everyone else — whether from the New Perspective or traditional Protestant positions —is wrong. Chris also promises a forthcoming interview with VanLandingham, which is worth looking out for.
***David Field posts some helpful comments from Joel Garver on the subject of baptismal regeneration.
***A Lutheran enthuses about the relationship that NTW draws between Baptism and justification.
***Michael Westmoreland-White lists some female theology bloggers. I already subscribe to a number of the blogs mentioned, Cynthia Nielsen’s Per Caritatem being a particular favourite.
***Christianity Today has an interview with Richard Bauckham [HT: Dr Jim West].
***John H suggests a new proposition (with apologies to Martyn Lloyd-Jones!):

If what you believe and teach concerning the Supper couldn’t be misinterpreted by some people as sounding like cannibalism, then your understanding and/or teaching of the Supper is deficient.

John also has some very interesting observations from David Jenkins, the former bishop of Durham (part 1, part 2). John also has a very good post on the subject of Christian children.
***R. Scott Clark on ‘Baptism, Election and the Covenant of Grace’. If nothing else, one has to be impressed with Clark’s chutzpah in distinguishing Lutherans from Protestants. Those terrible Lutherans, suggesting that Baptism actually does something!
***John Piper’s The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright will probably be released in November.
***There is a pre-publication special offer for Logos Bible Software’s electronic version of NTW’s Jesus and the Victory of God.
***I am encouraged. I thought that I read too many blogs. However, I only have about 250 blog feeds on Bloglines; Macht has about 550. If you don’t already use a feed aggregator like Bloglines, I strongly suggest that you start. It makes blog reading so much quicker and easier.
***Cooking for Engineers [HT: Peter Roberts]
***John Barach discusses Alias, strong male figures in popular TV shows and the manner in which shows such as Alias and 24 can desensitize us to surveillance and torture. As a fan of LOST and 24 (although my faith in both shows has taken a bit of a beating over the last season) and someone who has watched most of the first couple of seasons of Alias, I find that I agree with many of John’s observations.
***Please pray for the Presbyteer’s church.
***Some helpful productivity advice [HT: Mark Horne]
***From lifehacker:

101 New Uses for Everyday Things
Time is All We Have: 3 Ways to Increase Return on Investment
Determining the doneness of a steak
***From the Evangelical Outpost:

A Virtual Tour of Dante’s Inferno
Knit Graffiti
***The divine Prince Philip.
***Finally, a few Youtube videos.

I will never understand Japanese gameshows

Another clever advertisement

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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3 Responses to Links

  1. Jon says:

    Funny you should mention that Al – did you know I get more hits when I DON’T post…

  2. Al says:

    That is strange. My hits seem to be very closely related to the regularity of my posting at the moment. Sometimes my hits can jump by as much as 800 in one day when I post a number of popular posts after a lull.

  3. Matt says:

    I’m aware that as a classicist, I have a predilection for treating texts as fossilized objects of study, but that that’s emphatically not the main way in which the Bible is supposed to function in the church. I hope I’m not just blind on this issue.

    Nonetheless, I recoil with horror from the idea that, just because Scripture is “living and functioning,” it is therefore not “semantically fixed.” Unless Scripture is semantically fixed, “words mean what we say they mean,” to paraphrase Humpty-Dumpty. It becomes a power game.

    You, we, cannot do what St. Paul did. How to defend apostolic exegesis, I don’t know. I certainly embrace every word they wrote as the inspired Word of God. But if any modern exegete picks details of the OT’s narrative — like the rock that gave water in the desert, or the characters of Sarah and Hagar — and allegorizes them, I will not buy it. And I don’t think you would either, Al.

    Perhaps C.S. Lewis’ distinction between “receiving” and “using” is relevant here. Paul uses Scripture in the course of writing Scripture. And of course, we may use it too, in writing fiction or poetry or whatever. And in such instances, we may depart from the original and primary sense of Scripture. But when we’re receiving it, we can’t do these things, because they will distract from, or distort, or obscure the original meaning, which is the only one on which we can legitimately base authoritative theology and ethics for today.

    In practice, we all operate this way, don’t we? Nobody argues a point of theology or halakha by saying, “My opponents are correct about the primary meaning of the relevant passages of Scripture, but allegory, or anagogy, or _______, is on my side.”

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