The Problem with Christocentric Readings

Christocentric readings of the Bible have been around for a very long time but they have fairly recently come in vogue among theologically erudite Christians. Now there are different understandings of what it is but it literally means seeing Christ at the centre of whatever you read in the Bible. While I have appreciated the sincere sentiment behind it I have always been suspicious of it. Continue reading “The Problem with Christocentric Readings”

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What is the Christotelic Hermeneutic and Why Should You Care?

Christ the Telos

There has been quite a bit written over the past several months on the topic of “Christotelic hermeneutics.” Many charges have been laid against it, and for the most part without much substantiation beyond assertion.  Here I want to try to make it clear what advocates of Christotelic hermeneutics – at least those Reformed exegetes who see Scripture as the infallible word of God – are trying to accomplish.

As I see it, those who employ a Christotelic hermeneutic in their interpretation of the OT have put their finger on a real problem in evangelical exegesis as it has been practiced in recent history – that is, an over-reliance on a shallow form of the grammatical-historical method. This reliance tends either on the one hand to see the Christological meaning of the OT text as pervasive and therefore as the only real meaning of a given text, or on the…

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Cognitive Bias and Theology

We are more accustomed to thinking of syncretism as an errant imposition on the biblical text from culture. The point often overlooked is that even church and denominational subcultures are shaped by various dynamics in their surrounding culture(s). Who possibly knows the all the ways Christian organizations reflect the values and priorities of the numerous cultures in which we belong?

Furthermore, the inertia of tradition moves us along. We filter out certain texts and theological conclusions; or perhaps, we will overemphasize ideas beyond what is found in Scripture. In effect, our traditions and “Christian” subcultures create biases and impose significance or meaning into a passage.

Continue reading “Cognitive Bias and Theology”

Psalm 72 – A Messianic Psalm?

Reading Acts

The header does not explicitly refer to a historic event in the life of David or Solomon, although it seems clear that the Psalm refers to the Davidic Covenant.  But the language of the Psalm is grand and universal – the King will rule the whole world and the prosperity of the King rivals the Garden of Eden.  Since the details go beyond Solomon (or any other king of Israel or Judah), it is assumed by many Jewish and Christian writers that this Psalm is Messianic, referring to a future restoration of Israel when the land will be expanded and peace and prosperity will finally come to Israel.

As one of the  ten “royal” psalms (2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 101, 110, 132, and 144:1-11), this psalm is usually interpreted as messianic.  It is not surprising to find that early Christians saw this psalm as referring to the coming…

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A Review of E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism

In the field of New Testament studies E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977) is arguably the most influential book of the last 50 years. While it is a heavy academic tome, it is very significant for the Church because he introduced an approach that helps us read Paul, and the rest of the New Testament, more faithfully. As such below is an accessible, thorough review of Sanders’ paradigm shifting work. Continue reading “A Review of E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism”

Composite Quotations

Any attentive reader of the New Testament will notice how it quotes the Old Testament is often pretty weird. Sometimes it seems pretty arbitrary and other times it looks like its misquoted. If you ever wondered about about how this and how the New uses the Old in general, the following interview of New Testament scholar Seth Ehorn certainly helps address these questions. The interview, which is for Deeper Waters Podcast, is centred on his two-volume series he co-edited with Sean Adams Composite Citations in Antiquity (Vol. 1 2015, Vol. 2 2018, T&T Clark.)

Continue reading “Composite Quotations”

Reading Personas in the Bible

I have repeatedly emphasized paying attention to scripture as literature among other things. As such I have talked about various literary devices and techniques that are employed by the writers of holy scripture, how we can discern them and also apply those methods in our reading of scripture. The best example of this which has appeared extensively on this platform is “figural reading” (seeing the Old Testament containing types that are fulfilled in the New Testament) championed in the work of Richard B. Hays, a leading New Testament scholar. There are places where typological readings are not sufficient and we need to use another interpretive method. Rising New Testament scholar Matthew Bates, whose work has come up a lot in recent months on this platform, has identified a new but old interpretive technique called “prosopological exegesis.” The following series from Early Christian Archives breaks down this simple but dauntingly named reading method and why it is important that readers of the New Testament ought to know it.

Kyle R. Hughes

What is it? And, more importantly, why should anyone care? Well, for one thing, it just might explain how and why Paul uses the OT in the way that he does.

Prosopological exegesis (PE) is a technique of interpreting Scripture common in the early church. As Matthew W. Bates describes it, PE “explains a text by suggesting that the author of the text identified various persons or characters (prosopa) as speakers or addressees in a pre-text, even though it is not clear from the pre-text itself that such persons are in view” (The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation, 183). By “text,” Bates refers to “any specific instance in which a NT author, such as Paul, directly cites the scriptures” (53), while a “pre-text” means “a specific textual source that the NT author utilized” (54). Thus, when Paul cites Hab 2:4b LXX in Rom 1:17, Rom 1:17…

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