The second chapter of Green's book is "Aims and Assumptions."
In this chapter, Green urges that Christians should not take the position of so much modernist hermeneutics--the Bible was written to them. "We are listening in on an ancient conversation." Rather, Green argues that reading the Bible as Scripture requires us to see ourselves as the audience of these texts. Filled with the Spirit like those on the Day of Pentecost, we are empowered to hear the word rightly, prophetically. The Scriptures take on an immediacy, a capacity to speak clearly to us (33).
The rest of the chapter unfolds this adjustment by way of three headings:
1. Reading the OT as Christian Scripture
In this section, Green aims to reassert the status of the Old Testament "as a discrete witness irrespective of how New Testament writers might have understood it" (37). He points to 1 Peter 1:10-12 as the key to reading the OT, namely, as a witness to the coming sufferings and glories of Christ. At the same time, he denies those such as Francis Watson (and me) who think we can only see such things in the OT by using a new lens that is quite different from that of the OT itself.
He seems to argue that the text of the OT itself has a surplus of meaning that can accommodate Christian interpretations. I suspect the full explanation of what he is saying here is very sophisticated, so I will wait further clarification before I attempt to explain exactly what he is thinking. My impression is that Green's hermeneutic is averse to meta-discussions about it (a little like Barth). I would have to explain it in terms of my hermeneutic and thus I suspect Green (and Barth) would consider my explanations inaccurate to them from the very beginning.
2. "Conversion" to a New Way of Reading
Green suggests that we cannot read the Bible as Scripture without "embracing new patterns of thinking, feeling, believing, and acting" (49). In that sense, only true believers can read the Bible as Scripture. This is quite different from the historical critical method, which one might argue is most objectively practiced by someone who has nothing to gain or lose from the result of interpretation.
In this conversion, we embrace the biblical story as our own (50). To make a comment from my own hermeneutic, Green is here setting up an overall story or text which consumes the biblical text itself. This is, in my opinion, what the biblical authors themselves did in interpretation and it is the stuff of pre-modern interpretation unknowingly. The text is taken up into this revealed story. I don't think Green would put it like this, but that is how I would describe it.
3. Reading Scripture as Our Mail
Here Green wants to overcome the often said dictum that in the Bible we are reading someone else's mail (51). Rather, with Robert Jenson and others, he argues that we must see the Christians of the first century as part of the same people of God that we are. If we are the same people of God, then their mail is in fact our mail as well (51-52). He references several books of the NT as already having a momentum toward catholicity.
I have brought up before the fact that the "you" of the Bible is not anyone alive today. Green argues that reading the Bible as Scripture must see us as the you it addresses. He invokes Umberto Eco's concept of the Model Reader. The Model Reader adopts the stance of the author in writing the text. This is a position of sympathy with the text that is not neutral but embracing.
There are some similarities between Green and Barth in this chapter, and Green himself points some out. And as I often said about Barth last year in our reading group, I'm not quite sure what he means. I need to see more concrete examples with specific texts. This chapter is like poetry and it says things we long to hear. But I want to see how it works...