Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hebrews and Allegory

I'm finishing up my draft of the study notes on Hebrews for the CEB Study Bible today.  I am once again struck by the author's use of allegorical interpretation and dumbfounded by those interpreters who break out in a rash at the word.  It starts in 7:2-3 with Melchizedek, but the real allegory central is in 9:8-9.

Two parts to the tent.  The first part represents the old covenant and the present age that is waning (perhaps even the created realm), with its multiplicity of sacrifices. The second part represents the new covenant and the world that is coming, a heavenly age based on the one sacrifice of Christ.

I know why some evangelical scholars resist these sorts of interpretations and why "liberal" scholars used to make fun of them.  For evangelicals, they make it clear that inerrancy cannot be formulated exclusively in terms of the literal or plain meaning of the text.  For "liberals," it was their assumption that such interpretations were stupid that made them laugh at them.  For revivalists and charismatics, it's business as usual ;-)

P.S. This is another indication that the fundamentalists and modernists of the early 1900's based their debate on the same assumptions, assumptions that we should question today.

8 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The Old and New Covenants was a metaphor itself, as Jesus sacrifice and "taking away sin". It was the Church's way, and Paul's theology that led to this strategy to "build the church".

The Church, being an organization that tries to universalize identity factors "in Christ". But, the reality is, humans identify in their distinctions, as well, as their commonalities, dissolving diversity, is like throwing all academic disciplines into the same category. Such dissolves distinctives that are necessary and important to carry out that discipline's "concern". But, all disciplines are necessary and important to the university's mission of education.

Individuals are "bent" in certain ways, that must be "worked with", instead of "working against"....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

correction; The Old and New Covenant is a metaphor itself.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Christian" is a label that made one identified through baptism. But, the reality of Judiasm/monotheism is the question of the Western/Eastern split over the issue of "divinity"/Holy Spirit.

Humans in the view of the Church are to be "perfected" (transformed). The disagreement is over how that is to be accomplished and what "the problem" is/was in the first place (that was to be corrected).....

Since Hebrews is a "tradition-keeping" book, then I would suppose that faithfulness to "the tradition" would be the ultimate message of the book. Problem is; no one agrees as to what "The Tradition" is....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Since the world really functions on what we have come to understand through the Academy, then, the choice about "faith", is between Agnosticism and Atheism, because practically speaking, humans use their developed interests "in the world", whether believer or unbeliever.

Agnostics could believe that "faith" fills in "mystery", which is not dependent on the Academy, as "faith" is about "transcendent realities". In this sense, all truth is God's truth, as it concerns the Academy. In practicality, agnostics are atheists.

The Atheist believes that man creates and constructs "his world" and the world at large, as he matures/develops through education and free societies allow for such intellectual maturing. These don't adhere to the Church's orthodoxy, but allow for Free-thinking, Discovery, and Development.

The questions, in the end, will not be focused on or about "God", but about political philosophy and policy!

Ken Schenck said...

Which one of these comments do you want to keep? You're having a conversation with yourself again...

dougchaplin said...

Ken, if you don't know it, you might be interested in Dale Martin's book Pedagogy of the Bible in which he argues for allegory as one of many ways of reading the text (see my review here if you're interested.

FrGregACCA said...

" For revivalists and charismatics, it's business as usual"

Which is one reason why, once they begin reading Church History and the Fathers, they often become Orthodox.

Ken Schenck said...

Started it Doug but never finished it. Smiley to FrGreg.