Friday, February 06, 2009

one jot and one tittle shall in no wise pass

"It is really only through an appreciation of the original idea of Scripture, and the apprehension of God that underlies it," declares Kugel, "that those [historical critical] difficulties can be put in proper perspective" (687). Likewise Brevard Childs contends that today, "the role of the Bible is not being understood simply as a cultural expression of ancient peoples, but as a testimony pointing beyond itself to a divine reality to which it bears witness" (9).

But Harvard [Kugel] and Yale [Childs] backing the move toward theological interpretation is infinitely less important than the fact that theological interpretation is nothing new. It may therefore be less a "movement" than a resumption of the norm. Here's Stephen Fowl:
I take the theological interpretation of scripture to be that practice whereby theological concerns and interests inform and are informed by a reading of scripture. In this respect, throughout Christian history it has been the norm for Christians to read their scripture theologically... Indeed, until relatively recently it would have been unusual to suggest that scripture might be read for other purposes (xiii).
If theological interpretation aims to be not a fad, but a genuine resumption of ancient practices, the second part of Fowl's definition must be kept in mind. It is theology "being informed by" scripture - wedded to it, devoted to the jot and tittle - that Ireneaus, Origen, Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa understood so well, and that "theological interpreters" today so easily miss.

Hence Kugel's complaint that liberal commentators have "frequently sought to distance themselves from the actual details of the text (many of which seem inappropriate to modern thinking) in order to focus on its 'main ideas' or theological 'center' or overall theme" (674).

Hence Reno having to say that
Conceptual allegory will not do; one must depict the truth in and through the details, not in order to 'control' theology with exegesis, but because those details, the signa, are ordained by God to bring us into fellowship with his ineffable res... Karl Barth and Adrienne von Speyr do not turn from description of what the text says to formulate a theological conclusion. They offer a theologically ramified exposition of what the text says, and that constitutes their conclusion (405).
And hence Byassee having to remind that
When Augustine brings an explicitly Christian theological reading to bear on a psalm there is almost always a literal link between the psalm and a New Testament theme, story, or idea that directs him to make that interpretation. Allegory cannot take place without a verbal or narrative cue... (205).
And hence, yes, the ManBearPig, a contemporary way of making the exact point that Irenaeus did.

Look, I don't watch Southpark often, so when I do, I run with it for months. And don't get snooty on me. George Weigel recently revealed (on the EWTN tribute no less) that Richard John Neuhaus loved Talladega Nights.