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Thread: Intimations of Exegesis

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    tWebber
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    Intimations of Exegesis

    Source: Peter Enns

    Paul quotes the Old Testament a lot and it looks like Paul is riffing—at times it almost seems like he is grasping for a text, any text, that he can use to make his case stick, that all this unexpected Jesus business (discontinuity) is fully anticipated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (continuity).

    I want to tease this out a bit because saying that Paul is “winging it” doesn’t quite get at the dynamic. On one level, yes, Paul’s use of the Old Testament seems haphazard, but on another level it’s not.Let me put it this way: it seems to us that Paul is winging it, playing fast and loose with the Old Testament, rummaging through it to find passages that sorta kinda work and then bending them to his will.From our perspective—and I think it is crucial to acknowledge this—Paul is out there when it comes to Old Testament interpretation. But our perspective can’t drive our understanding of what Paul is up to and it can’t be the basis upon which we judge what Paul is doing. From an ancient Jewish perspective, Paul isn’t winging it. And that’s my point..

    ..What is interesting about Paul, historically speaking, isn’t his method of interpretation. What set him apart was his content. For Paul, as for his Jewish contemporaries, scripture was malleable—like forging metal or shaping clay on a potter’s wheel. Scripture necessarily had to be “worked with”. Paul’s faith in God’s dramatic inbreaking of the kingdom in the resurrected Christ, however, is what drove him to read his scripture in a particular way—to fill in the content by bending Israel’s past toward the Lord Jesus Christ and his kingdom, made up of Jews and Gentiles as fully equal partners.

    This is why I absolutely never get bored reading Paul. Wrapping our heads around what exactly he is up to and why is an energizing and uplifting mental workout that takes us out of our stale modern expectations of how the Bible is supposed to behave. In other words, for me, watching Paul at work (rather than judging or defending him) is interesting not simply for understanding Paul, but coming to terms with the nature of scripture: what the Bible “is,” what we should expect of it, and therefore what it means to read it today.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Let's look at two examples Pete provides:

    1) Romans 10:4-13 citing Lev. 18:5/Deut. 30:11-14

    Scripture Verse: Romans 10:4-13

    For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

    “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart”

    (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

    © Copyright Original Source



    Scripture Verse: Leviticus 18:5

    You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord

    © Copyright Original Source



    Scripture Verse: Deuteronomy 30:11-14

    Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Peter Enns makes the following observation: To support his claim that Christ is the “end” (better “culmination” or “completion”) of the law, Paul pits two passages from Torah against each other. Leviticus 18:5, which speaks of obedience to Torah, is a “righteousness that comes from the law.” But the “righteousness that comes by faith” is about Christ, which Paul sees in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (Romans 10:4-13). The problem is that the passage in Deuteronomy is about as strong a language as one can find about the dire consequences for not keeping the Law of Moses. Indeed, the commands that God is giving to the Israelite's are doable. They are not out of anyone’s reach. They are not up in the heavens or somewhere across the ocean. They are right here–“in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Paul bypasses the clear meaning of that text—Torah obedience—in favor of a creative Christ-centered reading that marginalizes Torah obedience.

    2) Rom. 11: 26-27 citing Isa. 59:20-21

    Scripture Verse: Romans 11: 26-27

    And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,

    Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”

    “And this is my covenant with them,
    when I take away their sins.”

    © Copyright Original Source



    Scripture Verse: Isaiah 59:20-21

    And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord. And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and forever.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Peter Enns makes the following observation: In Romans 11:26-27, Paul cites Isaiah 59:20-21 but changes one crucial word to allow him to make his theological point. In context, Isaiah speaks of God (the Deliverer) coming to Zion (Israel) to deliver them from Babylonian captivity. Paul, however, uses this passage to speak of a different kind of deliverance that will come not to Zion but out of Zion—meaning (I think) that the deliverance of both Jews and Gentiles originates with a Jewish Jesus.

    Source
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Of course Peter Enns' approach isn't the only view out there.

    So, what are your thoughts on the NT author's appropriation of OT texts?

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    tWebber
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    If I could sum up my view on this complex issue: I would have to say the NT is here represented by Naruto Uzumaki and the OT by Hinata Hyuga:


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    tWebber
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    I see an odd approach here by Peter when he says
    Scripture necessarily had to be “worked with”. Paul’s faith in God’s dramatic inbreaking of the kingdom in the resurrected Christ, however, is what drove him to read his scripture in a particular way
    The scriptures spoke of the kingdom coming. There is no need to read scripture in some "particular way," as if Paul's ideas were somehow foreign to the message of scripture.

    The important point to recognize in Rom 10 (as I would summarize it) is that Paul has shown the audience that the gospel message has been made freely to the Jews. The gospel has been near to them through the preaching that has gone on. The focus is shown in 10:1-4 wherein Paul shows his concern for his people. Now he wishes to explain 1) what has gone wrong, 2) the availability for them to repent and 3) that the gospel has been available to them through preaching (10:14-15).

    I think Lev 18:5 was fair usage. There was a blatant interrelation between obeying the law and having life. Paul merely removed the emphasis of this verse being a command.

    Then the Deut 30 quote possibly was used as a metaphor. This is okay since the Deut 30 passage was being used not as a proof text but rather as a description of the proximity of the message of the gospel ... and the sufficiency of the gospel ... for the hearing and responsiveness of Paul's fellow countrymen.

    Concerning the 'end of the law', Enns is possibly correct -- if he is saying that the law was to culminate in the arrival of Jesus and be fulfilled by Jesus. However, apart from Paul's description of a shift of attention from law to faith (via the gospel), there was no proof of the concept of an end to the law being argued.

    For Rom 11:26, the inclusion of Isa 59 seems to be used fairly. I've not examined Isa 59. But I wonder if Enn's reference to Babylon are warranted for this passage. Paul appears to use this passage as expressive of the parallels between Jesus and Isa 59:20-21. Jesus was the one through whom their sins were forgiven. The people needed to turn from their sins to enjoy this.

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Seems to me that what Enns describes as Paul "winging it" is simply him practicing standard 2nd Temple Jewish Midrash, likely as taught to him by Gamaliel or through his vocation as a Pharisee. Imbuing Old Testament passages with a fuller meaning is Midrash 101.

    Anyhow, N.T. Wright deals with the "issue" Enns raises in his book Paul and the Faithfulness of God. It's very deep and lengthy, but a decent summary can be found on a blog post here. The following is a snippet:

    The many individual stories in the Old Testament make up one large overarching narrative, sometimes called a meta-narrative (the story behind the stories). This ongoing narrative embodies Israel’s worldview.

    In his analysis of this worldview, N.T. Wright points out that there really are three stories or three levels to the one story. We are looking at the story of Israel, but this story is part of the larger story of humanity. After all, this is where the Bible begins in Genesis 1-11, with the creation and ruin of the human race. The story of Israel only begins at the end of chapter 11, when Abraham enters the scene. Obviously, Israel is God’s pathway to redeeming humanity, in order to bring this broken story to a good ending. Behind the story of humanity lies yet another story, the story of creation, implying the cosmic or all-encompassing dimension of salvation history.

    This way of looking at it is quite different from the Western approach to theology, which has majored in abstract ideas such as justification, sanctification, election, etc. The ideal was often to bring these ideas together in a more or less timeless system. With the Reformation and even more so with the Enlightenment, there also came a strong focus on the individual, making the central question: how do I (or how does a person) get saved? In contrast, Paul and his contemporaries thought of the community (Israel) before they thought of the individual, and they started with a story, not with abstract ideas.

    A Story in Search of an Ending

    The problem of course is that Israel’s story is broken as well. Israel fails in its mission as the agent to bring salvation to the world; instead, it suffers judgement and exile. The question therefore becomes how God will bring this story to a good ending, because he has promised to do so. Obviously then, Israel’s story is a story in search of an ending.

    . . .

    Paul therefore does not take this as yet another exhortation for Israel to obey the law, but as referring to a whole new ballgame. The word to be obeyed is now in their heart, not just on tables of stone. Leviticus 18:5 states the general principle behind the law as it was valid for the phase before the exile (the ‘old’ ballgame). In Paul’s view, this ‘exile’ stage has just come to an end and the ‘restoration’ phase has begun. Deuteronomy 30 is located in this new phase, in which Israel’s inability to keep the law has been dealt with. There is therefore a narrative sequence, a story, involved.

    Once we see this, we understand how Paul can quote the law to back up grace. Paul is not mining the Old Testament for proof texts, for isolated incidences, statements, and examples he can put to use for his own purposes. He has not taken his proof text out of context at all; on the contrary, he has noticed that the context has changed – something I expect most of us have missed (I certainly have). He has noticed that Deuteronomy 30 belongs to a different part of the narrative map: this goes with the time of restoration.

    It is something to be aware of: often, in quoting Scripture, Paul does the opposite of isolating a proof text from its original context and putting all the weight on a single verse (or two), regardless of whether the verse can really carry that weight! On the contrary: often, the short quote serves as a signpost to something much larger: the longer passage of which it is part, an overarching narrative (which is the case here), or a big theological idea (as in those two words “in Christ”; not a quote, to be sure, but still a world of biblical thought condensed in just two words).

    Paul recognizes in the death and resurrection of Christ the beginning of the new phase, and therefore in the gospel the word that has to be received and believed. Paul finds further support for this in the prophets: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:32, ESV, quoted in Rom. 10:13). Again, just one verse, but connecting us with – and pointing to – the whole prophetic concept of a new age and a restored creation.


    Enns, in usual Enns fashion, is simply making the Bible harder to read, and finding discrepancies where there really aren't any. I'm not looking forward to the day he apostates, and I pray that he doesn't, but I have a hard time seeing how he can remains in Christ if he continues to undermine scripture in this fashion over and over again. What you cited from him was written in 2016, here he was in 2017. Only God know where his heart is today, but I hope the Holy Spirit moves in him heavily, and that God brings helpful friends and peers into his life to help answer his questions and get him back on track again.

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    tWebber
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    I can't see any clear response to Enns in the comments by Wilren/Wright. Wright highlights some important doctrines (like our ultimate resurrection) but his metanarratives often seem off the mark. For example, I don't remember any passages which suggest Israel to be tasked with the effort of bringing salvation to the nations.

    More specifically, I don't see Deut 27 to 30, as a whole, being brought into focus from Paul's mention of Deut 30 in Romans 10.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    [cite=Peter Enns]
    Scripture Verse: Isaiah 59:20-21

    And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord. And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and forever.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Peter Enns makes the following observation: In Romans 11:26-27, Paul cites Isaiah 59:20-21 but changes one crucial word to allow him to make his theological point. In context, Isaiah speaks of God (the Deliverer) coming to Zion (Israel) to deliver them from Babylonian captivity. Paul, however, uses this passage to speak of a different kind of deliverance that will come not to Zion but out of Zion—meaning (I think) that the deliverance of both Jews and Gentiles originates with a Jewish Jesus.

    Source
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Of course Peter Enns' approach isn't the only view out there.

    So, what are your thoughts on the NT author's appropriation of OT texts?
    I missed the statement about differences in reference to Zion between "out" and "to." This seems a trivial distinction. If we equate Jerusalem and Zion, then we can say that Jesus both had gone to Zion as Redeemer, in order to reach people with the gospel, and he had come out of Jerusalem -- as a critical aspect of his identity.

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    You've started so many threads about stuff that Pete Enns says over the years. Why are you seeking out his material? I can't speak as to his expertise (Old Testament) but he's clearly not a good scholar outside of that field, and reading him seems to undermine your faith based on what you've posted in the past.
    For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. - Ambrose, 4th century AD

    All cruelty springs from weakness. - Seneca the Younger

  8. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Commonly, claims of Paul making errors or writing badly or Paul "winging it" tend to occur by people who misunderstand what Paul is saying. Paul often seems to be quoting scriptures which he has seen as having fulfillment in his lifetime. This is true of the gospels too. In many situations, Paul would be providing scriptures to establish the background or context of his discussion -- such as the testimony of scripture (in Rom 3) emphasizing the unrighteousness status (contrasted against the idea that the law can justify people).

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    You might be interested in Carson and Beale's (editors of) "Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament".

    The authors go into detail on each OT quote in the NT, categorizing and explaining each quote.

    "Finally a volume that surveys the use of the Old Testament in each book of the New Testament. Written by top-tier scholars with unsurpassed expertise in New Testament exegesis, these essays model sound engagement with Scripture that quotes Scripture. This excellent collection is a must-read for all who wish to understand how the New Testament writers understood and used their Bible."
    --Karen H. Jobes, Wheaton College

    NTOT.jpg

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    You might be interested in Carson and Beale's (editors of) "Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament".

    The authors go into detail on each OT quote in the NT, categorizing and explaining each quote.

    "Finally a volume that surveys the use of the Old Testament in each book of the New Testament. Written by top-tier scholars with unsurpassed expertise in New Testament exegesis, these essays model sound engagement with Scripture that quotes Scripture. This excellent collection is a must-read for all who wish to understand how the New Testament writers understood and used their Bible."
    --Karen H. Jobes, Wheaton College

    NTOT.jpg

    Blessings,
    Lee
    The Google books site has an extensive preview of this book. I was looking at some passages throughout Romans. Pretty much, the text provided nearly standard commentary content.
    One point that is expected but still interesting... He notes that Paul 'speaks of the human being as a doer,"the person who does these things," and then goes on to say "unlike the LXX ... 'doing which things, a person shall live.'" And he gives a few more details about the changes from the LXX.

    It seems Paul respected the original wording yet sought to highlight the corresponding dependence on the law for having life. (This would depend on what exactly is meant in the ESV translation, for example, saying "he shall live by them." Does this mean the person keeps living or does 'life' anticipates relationship with God? or maybe this means "this is what his focus of living is ... viz. keeping the law" Maybe the meaning is that God would not have reason to take their lives away -- if they follow the law. I think this latter option works well.)

  12. Amen lee_merrill amen'd this post.

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