Aug 8, 2012

Good Hermeneutical Advice

“Genre criticism, rightly used, should avoid the kind of problem that arises when, for example, we classify Daniel and revelation as apocalypses and assume we have thereby “cracked the code.” Such classification is too broad to do justice to the variety of genres that may be contained in the one document. Not only do both books contain much that is not strictly apocalyptic, but it can be easily assumed that the category apocalyptic is a classification that follows fixed rules and conveys unambiguous meaning without complications. Some studies have drawn up lists of apocalyptic characteristics by which to test the biblical books and even to date them to establish hermeneutical rules for them. Yet the edifice of scholarly reconstruction of apocalyptic has in some cases resulted in something that is really not found in any of the separate texts said to be apocalyptic.

“I would suggest that care is needed before drawing parallels between biblical texts and trends in secular writings that are assumed to have come from the same or similar provenance. The important thing is not the label but the way meaning is conveyed. While background culture and history form part of the context within which we understand the meaning of the biblical texts, the overruling hermeneutical principles must come from within Scripture itself. Scripture as god’s word must interpret history and culture, not the other way round.”

Graeme Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2012), 51-52. 

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