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Hermeneutics

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By large-hammer - Posted on 03 May 2005

by Marcus Booker
Sometimes we read and interpret the Scriptures as if it is any common body of literature; we utilize the same rules. The identical grammatical-historical method has applied equally to the exegesis of Homer and of the ancient prophets. If we are to assume, however, that sacred literature is distinct, perhaps those rules are insufficient.Sometimes we read and interpret the Scriptures as if it is any common body of literature; we utilize the same rules. The identical grammatical-historical method has applied equally to the exegesis of Homer and of the ancient prophets. If we are to assume, however, that sacred literature is distinct, perhaps those rules are insufficient.Before continuing, I will briefly be personal. Those who have a vague recollection of my presence here will remember that I abruptly disappeared from this website. As preterists, you will all be thankful to know that it was not the "rapture" that claimed me.

I left calling myself a futurist. What I meant by that self-description was more akin to what you might call a "partial preterist." I elected not, however, to use that term, inasmuch as it would have misled you. Maybe the term "idealist" would be preferable.

My foremost discovery was that there is more to the text than the surface meaning. I would even say, as discomforting as a thought as it may be, that there is more to our faith than what happened to be captured within the scant writings that have survived. [Indeed, if that were not so, then the doings of the majority of the original 12 apostles were of no consequence, not to mention all oral communication]. This view has led me to a greater respect [with caution] for early tradition and practice. Formerly, I read the text apart from any consideration of these primitive interpretations. For this reason, I adopted a modified futurism, acknowledging points of orthodoxy such as the general resurrection.

The apostolic use of prophecy, following after what I have called a midrashic tradition, purposefully goes beyond the plain meaning of the text. It is blatant. Because of this use (or seeming misuse), I cannot relegate the interpretation of the Scriptures to the grammatical-historical method alone. The apostles, for their part, do not. How can I?

The unsettling thought is that the same #1 principle that guides our lives guides our hermeneutic. That principle is uncertainty and grace. I use the two here as two sides to the same coin. I will hereafter refer to it only as grace.

Proper interpretation, like our own salvation, is not something that man can grasp for himself. Just like there are no rules for life (apart from grace) that secure us our salvation, so too do we wholly depend upon God to deliver to us enlightenment concerning the text. In both areas He imparts to us varying measures of grace. Some eyes may, via God's good gift, be more fully opened to the text. Other eyes He does not open.

Because of this inevitable reliance, our certainty about the meaning of the Scriptures must come from God. As in other areas, we may be deluded concerning that very certainty. If God chooses not to give the right interpretation to a man, nobody else will be able to give him that proper interpretation. The right rules mean nothing; they will not help the man. Imagine rules established for Daniel and Joseph for the interpretation of dreams. The only applicable rule was that the interpretation was of the LORD.

I suppose that you could say that the question isn't "how" to interpret the text. There is no "how." The question is "who?" Those who are humble before Him, God will not despise. He will open their eyes. They may not be all-knowing, but they will understand as much as they need to understand. They will be fed.

From those who are of a contrary character [oftentimes the wise, the strong, etc], God will withhold His grace. Indeed, the Scriptures themselves recount praise to God for doing this very thing.

The Preterists, as I have seen, have interpreted the text utilizing the same assumption employed by the Futurists. That assumption is singularity of meaning. In other words, you presume that there is one dimension to the text; a verse may only mean one thing.

While there is a certain convenience and [false] comfort to this method, I don't think that it accounts for #1 the apostles' Midrash, #2 the early teachings of the churches (concerning the resurrection) and #3 the mysterious and jealous character of God.

MiddleKnowledge's picture

All,

I thought it was uncharacteristic for Marcus to be absent the discussion resulting from an article he posted. I called him and found out that his wife just delivered their second child a couple of nights ago.

He'll be back when the schedule in the Booker home returns to normal. By the way Marcus and Amy had a girl.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Mung's picture

Congratulations Marcus!

May she grow up to be a multi-dimensional preterist.

:)

And welcome back, it's good to hear from you again my brother.

Scott

"But the saints shall never posses an earthly kingdom, but only a heavenly. Away, then, with the fable about a millennium!"

MiddleKnowledge's picture

All,

I think Roderick hit one of the problems with partial-preterism that I can't get around, either.

Some partial-preterists split up the actual prophecies of the NT and label them A.D. 70 and worldwide consummation. These particular ones go this direction, these other ones to the that direction.

Marcus is not suggesting a partial-preterism along these lines. Comparison of biblical texts and cross-referencing parallel passages (i.e. Matthew 24 and Luke's rendition of the Olivet) pretty much torpedoes that approach. If I may speak for Marcus here, I think Marcus understands that form of partial preterism has not, can not, and will not ever be a legitimate option.

What Marcus is suggesting (I think) is that all prophecy is fulfilled in a way at A.D. 70. But prophecy BY ITS NATURE is bigger than such a limited use. In other words, when something is fulfilled it teaches us more about the covenant relationship between God and man and those principles are always abiding. In fact, they are fulfilled every time they take place within the lives of God's people. With this point, I am in open agreement with Marcus. Preterism enlarges and enhances the Biblical Christian Faith, it does not nullify it by reducing the gospel (along with all its appendages) to a message only for its 1st century hearers.

Here is where the trouble begins. Marcus has implied that since this is the case, one fulfillment does not mean a terminal fulfillment, there may be a terminal fulfillment of the resurrection and consummation passages. This fulfillment would be in our future. And I will grant that prophecy did work this way in the O.T. to a certain extent.

Now, Roderick mentioned the fact that this leaves open the possibility for Jesus to be crucified again since Jesus cannot be ripped from his historical, covenantal context within the Hebrew nation. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him.

Roderick senses the same problem I do. If the prophecies regarding the "end of days" and "Day of the Lord" and the resurrection can be "duplicated," in some sort of terminal fulfillment still in our future, then the prophecies regarding the Messiah may also (I would argue for consistency sake must also) be applied the same way. The prophetic testimony to the coming Messiah is all mixed up with the very events we are speaking of, particularly in Daniel.

So, if the consummation we read of in the New Testament and witness in the events of A.D. 70 is "a" consummation, then that would imply that the Messiah we read about in the New Testament in fulfillment of prophecy was "a" fulfillment in type of Messiah. We would still await the worldwide, terminal Messiah to come in our future.

Jim Jordan presented much this same view at the conference hosted by Christ Covenant Church and Sam Frost. No one in the recorded Q&A session asked him how the Messianic prophecies would work out along the same lines, leaving Jesus "a" fulfillment of the prophetic word and leaving us to await the final, terminal, worldwide fulfillment of all the Messianic Scriptures to come in our future.

If Jesus is the ultimate, terminal Messiah spoken of by the New Testament, then that consummation would also be the ultimate consummation, that resurrection would be the ultimate resurrection, and so forth.

Here's where I currently stand on this: midrash, yes, but partial-preterism, no.

Any thoughts?

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

davo's picture

G'day Tim,

Could it be explained in part in these terms: preterism seeks the PRIMARY covenantal-historical fulfilment of prophecy, whereas idealism seeks its SECONDARY personal application – and so what we are maybe talking about is the variance between these two?

davo – pantelism.com –

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Davo,

Yes, I think that is a good way to put it. The only thing I might want to add to your statement is this.

People have presented idealism as one of three options in viewing the book of Revelation (the other two are futurism and preterism, each of which have their own subcategories). What I am coming to believe is that idealism and preterism are not necessarily opposed to one another. In other words you can hold to both at the same time.

I would go even further. With preterism in view, idealism is enhanced since the actual historical context and events illuminate the pattern of God's actions and covenant relationship with man. We know more now after the fulfillment of the prophetic word. Once we understand the covenant story of the consummation and transition, we have more of a foundation from which to build and apply the principles of covenant life as they are demonstrated in the 1st century experience, which in many ways is just the ultimate repeat of covenant realities we see throughout Scripture from Genesis on.

The benefit of this merging of idealism and preterism is that you have BOTH a hardnosed historical reality for the prophetic witness we see in Scripture AND you have a relevant contemporary spiritual application of the principles of God's covenant relationship with his people. You are not so historically based as to lead to a dead end when it comes to what the Bible means today in all of it's topics and the guidance it does offer. (I called this the audience relevance "nuclear option" where none of the Bible means anything anymore because it was written only to a 1st century audience). Yet, you are not so present-centered as to rip the message from the context and abuse it naively. You must to understand the past to make a proper evaluation of the present.

I hope this makes some sense. I think that the real challenge that lies before preterism is not necessarily explaining the ins and outs of fulfilled prophecy in the details of specific texts. That has been accomplished fairly well to date, even if there remain debatable items. The real challenge is to show how the preterist paradigm succeeds in enhancing and enlarging the Christian faith and what it means to covenant life, even today. If preterists can meet this challenge, I think it would be a paradigm that is more readily acceptable to the Christian church, at least in America. Showing why preterism is important, not just in a proof-texting examination of biblical texts, but a rich, deep Christian worldview way would be a boon to the preterists movement. People would be drawn to it because it gave more meaning to their Christian life and worldview, not just because of formal intellectual polemics (which are important).

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

davo's picture

Yes Tim I couldn't agree more. Thanks for teasing out those thoughts; I thought the following were particularly salient:

MiddleKnowledge: What I am coming to believe is that idealism and preterism are not necessarily opposed to one another. In other words you can hold to both at the same time.

With preterism in view, idealism is enhanced since the actual historical context and events illuminate the pattern of God's actions and covenant relationship with man.

…we have more of a foundation from which to build and apply the principles of covenant life…

The benefit of this merging of idealism and preterism is that you have BOTH a hardnosed historical reality for the prophetic witness we see in Scripture AND you have a relevant contemporary spiritual application of the principles of God's covenant relationship with his people.

Showing why preterism is important, not just in a proof-texting examination of biblical texts, but a rich, deep Christian worldview way would be a boon to the preterists movement.

davo – pantelism.com –

blackpreterist's picture

When I first learned of full preterist, this "double fulfillment" issue was the one that eventually pushed me over. I, of course, was using the "dual fulfillment" view to argue for a partial preterist understanding of the Olivet Discourse. My problem was that I saw that if you can see Matthew 24 as being fulfilled again in the future in the partial preterist manner, why not take all of the Old Testament passages referring to the restoration of Israel and the throne of David, and say that they were fulfilled "in a sense" in the return from Babylon, and then in Jesus' coming in the first century, but will "really" be fulfilled in the literal, dispensational/premillennial sense in the future?

In short, what I saw was that I was using this explanation not because it was obvious from what I saw in the text, but because I felt compelled to maintain my futurism. (If this were not the case, I would not have rejected the above-mentioned dispensational hypothesis out of hand.) Since then, I have come to a conclusion similar to that of Roderick: these issues of fulfillment are from old covenant shadow to fulfillment in Christ and his new covenant people, not from old covenant to new covenant to some future fulfillment (or else, as you noted, one would have to admit the possibility of Jesus being the type of a future Messiah who will "really" fulfill the messianic passages). Interestingly, I did not grasp the full force of this point until a conversation that I had with a friend from church about preterism, in which I got him to agree that Matthew 24 would have had to be a "real" coming of Jesus, but in which he simply used the "dual fulfillment" explanation to create another coming of Jesus to satisfy his futuristic conceptions.

I'm not saying that the full preterist paradigm that understands the millennium as ending circa AD 70 is air-tight, or that there can be no discussion of perceived problems in preterism. Seeker, I believe, has pointed out that most of the preteristic writers before the "modern era" of full preterism -- Russell, Terry, etc., held to what Tracy D. VanWynGaarden (some of whose writing are at the preteristarchive) calls "premillennial preterism," that Jesus' coming was in the first century, that the church was raptured circa AD 70, and that the millennium began at that time. This is the most compelling preterist/partial preterist synthesis that I have seen (preterist in viewing AD 70 as "the" parousia of Jesus, partial preterist in seeing a consummation in our future). However, I don't think that the "dual fulfillment" explanation is strong enough to create another coming of Jesus and resurrection to fulfill Matthew 24 and other eschatological passages. (If anything, Jesus' reference to Isaiah 13 -- the fall of ancient Babylon -- in Matthew 24 indicates that those days were the "dual" or ultimate fulfillment of past prophecy, with the fall of "Babylon" being fulfilled in the fall of first-century Jerusalem.)

Kenneth P.

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MiddleKnowledge's picture

Kenneth,

I found it fascinating you mentioned "premillenial preterism" along the order of Terry and Russell. I held this view for many years before I came to where I am now. I agree, of all the partial-preterist views this is definately the most compelling.

One of the big items that pushed me over the edge was Paul's mention of "the end" in 1 Corinthians 15. Premillenial prets tend to place that in the future as the end of the millenial reign (which we now currently live within) or history as a whole. The premil prets I know have a type of gap theory in 1 Cor. 15 that is structurally similar to the partial-preterist ploy to divide up Matt. 24. The problem for me was the assumption of what Paul is referring to as "the end" in 1 Cor. 15. I came to the viewpoint that Paul is speaking about the same thing as Peter in 1 Pet. 4 which clearly declares "the end of all things is near." As a premil pret I was forced into seeing double when it came to these texts, as partial preterism demands one way or another, no matter how you formulate it.

It is good to see someone else talk about the premil views of Terry and Russell. I think more preterists should know that background, if nothing else for historical sake. It was a necessary development, a stepping stone in the preterist paradigm. Thanks,

Tim Martin
www.truthinlivin.org

blackpreterist's picture

Tim,

That same chronological problem that you noted is the one that has kept me from accepting premillennial preterism as well.

Another "premillennial" (but full preterist) is that of Markos/AtavistChristian (Mark Mountjoy), what he calls "atavism," which views the millennium as beginning circa AD 70 and ending with the Second Revolt in the 130's. This view interests me, and I have visited Mr. Mountjoy's site (www.atavistchristian.com). However, at present I see this view as having the same chronological limitations as Russell's premillennial preterism.

Kenneth P.

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Roderick's picture

Marcus,

Good to see you are still out there. :-)

You have broached an important topic, one which is long over due to be addressed, and that is the topic of duality & the N.T..

This concept of dual or multiple meanings is one often imployed by futurists. You are aware how they turn locusts & horses into helicopters and tanks without warrant. How they turn "fig trees" budding into establishment of a nation.

Now, let me say I agree with you that the N.T. writers did indeed take Scripture from the O.T. that has its own context and then overlaid it with another interpretation, thus making it a fulfillment.

But why is that not allowed in the N.T.? Why can't we take N.T. texts and look for an speculate about dualities of meaning?

Because...

  • 1. We are not Christ or the apostles, thus not authorized to speak thus saith the Lord
  • 2. The N.T. by nature IS the final fulfillment, the divine commentary on the O.T.
  • 3. Exactly because such methods are merely SPECULATION
  • You will not see me often writing articles based soley in the O.T. and how some O.T. passage was fulfilled (such as futurists do when they primarily build their case on Daniel, Ezekiel, and other O.T. books). Not, because I don't hold these texts in high esteem, as it is Scripture, but because I can go no further than the divine commentary of the N.T. -- Christ came to reveal and fulfill. If my conclusions about what a shadow & type O.T. text might say, contradicts Christ's own words, then I will leave my speculation and conclusion behind.

    I had recently written a booklet specifically outlining the Eschatology of Jesus Christ which spoke about how the only eschatology that really matters is that outlined by Christ Himself. Our speculations about who were/are the two witnesses?, who was/is the beast?, who was/is the antichrist? and on and on is mere speculation unless clearly revealed within the N.T. itself and especially by Christ Himself.

    Christ details the entire workup to the so-called "end times", during His discourse on the Mount of Olives and He did not think it worthy to explain such matters as many often speculate over in the O.T. books, and even in the Book of Revelation. BUT the matters He DID explain are clear and in that I have comfort.

    If duality exist in the N.T. then what stops us from saying Christ will be crucified again? Perhaps that first crucifixion was only for the Jews and He has yet to pay the penalty for the rest? On & on it goes.

    The only duality is from the O.T. to the N.T. -- the shadow and type to the revelation and fulfillment. What was concealed in the old is revealed in the new.

    In Christ risen & returned, once and for all,
    Roderick

    MichaelB's picture

    We all know prophecy is spoken in dark sayings. God admitted that His prophecy, through the prophets, would not be easily understood. Not even by the prophets.

    Point being, it is not what Hosea THOUGHT the prophecy he wrote meant...it is about what GOD meant through Hosea, His mouthpiece.

    God Bless
    Nate

    vinster's picture

    Luke 21:20-22 and Matt.5:17-18 pretty much settle this whole issue as to some kind of "assumed" double fulfillment in our future. This is just another attempt by futurists to split preterists into more factions.
    Nothing personal, Marcus, but you left us high and dry almost two years ago, and have had that much time to study your theory, now look what you're doing!! Vinster

    large-hammer's picture

    Vinster,
    You seem to be too worried. Everything is going to be okay.
    1. There are multitudes of contributors to this site. My temporary absence was not leaving anybody "high and dry." Also, it was barely over a year. In both cases, you overexaggerated.
    2. Preterists are already divided on numerous issues. If there are possible truths to explore or questions to work out, we should not ignore them for the sake of unity. That kind of unity is stale and mindless. We want a dynamic, thoughtful unity. I think, for the most part, we have that.
    3. I don't see that I've divided anybody (at least not substantially).

    Marcus

    vinster's picture

    Yeah, but what is the purpose of you coming back here, when you left with the same theory that you're dishing out now??? Are you trying to show us that you know something or change our minds??
    Vinster

    large-hammer's picture

    Vinster,

    I wouldn't call it a "theory." A theory is more developed. It is more of a hypothesis in work.

    In many ways, our approach toward hermeneutics should be scientific in its methodology. That much, at least, I presuppose. With that fact in mind, what I mean to point out is a possible solution to a definite problem.

    What I mean by problem is anomaly. There are anomalies and sticking points for our exclusive use of the grammatical-historical method and the theory of preterism. These anomalies are sufficient, of themselves, to disrupt the entire system. I will continue to point them out.

    These anomalies show the current theory to be inadequate. What that means is that either a new or adjusted theory is needed. The only way to keep the current theory is consciously to ignore the anomalies, which you cannot do forever.

    For many applications, for instance, Newton's Theory (F=ma) was adequate. However, some cosmic activity seemingly defied the theory. Despite these anomalies, people didn't instantly toss out Newton's theory. They couldn't afford to do so. They needed to use it for the valid applications for which it was useful. However, in truth, these anomalies sufficiently disproved the theory (and demonstrated the need for an adjustment or new theory).

    Usually, as in the above case, the problem is evident before the solution. I am trying to point out the problem(s), and I have some ideas as to what the solution might be. I came back for help in deriving the solution. There should be some brainstorming going on here. In the case of Newton's theory, the problem is that there was something that he didn't take into account; something was missing from the equation. For him, it was the speed of moving bodies in relation to the speed of light. We too are missing some things from our equation. Hopefully, something will come together. May God shed His light upon it.

    Marcus

    shaggy_flasko's picture

    large-hammer:
    "What I mean by problem is anomaly. There are anomalies and sticking points for our exclusive use of the grammatical-historical method and the theory of preterism. These anomalies are sufficient, of themselves, to disrupt the entire system. I will continue to point them out."

    I take this to mean that scripture cannot always be interpreted by scripture, the only infallible source we have. Is that what you mean?

    large-hammer:
    "These anomalies are sufficient, of themselves, to disrupt the entire system. I will continue to point them out."

    example?

    Thanks,
    Bill

    "Feelings come and go, and when they come a good use can be made of them: they cannot be our regular spiritual diet."
    -The World's Last Night, C.S. Lewis

    large-hammer's picture

    Bill,
    I suppose I would echo JL's thoughts on this subject. Scripture always being interpreted by scripture can be used oversimplistically. The Scriptures are not some self-contained entity apart from normal language and history (hence: the grammatical-historical method). To understand the Scriptures, you must understand something of language. Greek and Hebrew obviously are best. But to understand a German translation, you must know German. And to understand an English translation, you must first know English. Meaning is a derivative of language. And the Scriptures are not a linguistic instruction manual, in any tongue. Therefore, to some extent, we must derive meaning from the text extra-Scripturally. There is no way around it.

    I think what you're getting at is whether we should interpret Hosea, for instance, with reference to Matthew.

    I did not address this particular concern. However, I would say that regardless of whether it is correct, utilizing Matthew to interpret Hosea is not properly "grammatical-historical" interpretation. In other words, using Matthew is against the rules. Generally, I would say, when you attempt to honestly interpret according to the grammatical-historical rules, you read the text as much as possible as would the original audience. The original audience was not using Matthew to read Hosea. They didn't have that access. They did have, however, their redemptive history up unto that point. And they had other writings and traditions. If Matthew is necessary to understand the plain meaning of Hosea, then you must make the assumption that the text was unintelligible to its first audience.

    I think some people are getting it backwards. They are trying to interpret Hosea from Matthew. They should first understand Hosea fully (i.e. using the grammatical-historical method) then use that meaning to ascertain Matthew's meaning.

    As far as examples, we'll stick for the time being to Matthew's use of Hosea's "out of Egypt I called my son." It is plain that Hosea speaks of national Israel's exodus. Matthew legitimately re-interprets that text with reference to Jesus. Matthew and his audience, of course, knew the original meaning. I don't think anybody doubts that. But the apostle does not perform an exegesis but an eisegesis on Hosea's words. He imports meaning into the words more than he extracts meaning from them.

    I can list examples all day. In fact, most (if not all) similar apostolic references to something being "fulfilled" in Christ fall into this same category. There is nothing in the Psalm for instance (the one that speaks of the one who shared my bread lifting up his heel) that hints at it being a "prophecy." It is a straightforward text that is very generic and openly applicable. Yet the apostles speak of it as specifically referring to Judas.

    Some modern interpreters mistakenly assume that the "Judas" interpretation of this text is subsequently the only legitimate and true interpretation. That approach is erroneous.

    JL's picture

    Bill,

    I think you caught Marcus in a contradiction.

    To answer your first question:

    Scripture doesn't explain to us a lot of things. It assumes for example that we know what bread is and how to make it. It assumes we can count.

    So Scripture interpreting Scripture has obvious limitations.

    Paul reasoned from Scripture. Are we limited in that we are only allowed to reason from Scripture in precisely the same manner Paul did? Or are we allowed to follow Paul's example and reason from Scripture for ourselves?

    And if we are allowed to reason generally from Scripture in the manner Paul did, can't we also reason from Scripture in the same manner that Peter, John, James, Jude, and Matthew did?

    What if that manner completely abandons Greek logic?

    The obvious answer is, "Yes we can. God expects it of us." The next question follows. How?

    This is the issue I see.

    JL

    Blessings,

    JL Vaughn
    Beyond Creation Science

    vinster's picture

    Marcus,
    I appreciate your thoughts(honestly),and can understand that we do need to have some type of methodology that can bring us ever closer to truth. But in all respect, I can't help but wonder what your agenda is in all of this. Is it to help develope Preterism further, or to dismantle it piece-by-piece??
    Vinster

    large-hammer's picture

    I'm just throwing some additional factors into the equation.

    JL's picture

    Vinster,

    What did I miss between you two a year ago? At least let Marcus say something we can hang him for?

    JL

    Blessings,

    JL Vaughn
    Beyond Creation Science

    vinster's picture

    You're right, I probably shouldn't have come across like that. But I'm a little disturbed that the first article that he posts in over a year, is some of the same stuff that he posted in his last article over a year ago,(The Resurrection: What & When).
    And my question is: What is the purpose of this??
    Vinster

    Roderick's picture

    Marcus,

    I picked up on a word in your response that I wanted to bring to the fore:

  • we
  • Thus, I'm hopeful that this "we" means you still consider yourself an advocate for the full victory of Christ?

    MiddleKnowledge's picture

    Marcus,

    It is good to see you back.

    I think we can all agree that the topic Marcus brings up is a very complex one, to say the least. I would advise everyone here to not hit the send button in your flaming rebuttals too quick on this issue. This particular understanding of the nature of communication in our Scripture is one that deserves careful and thoughtful consideration.

    I don't see (as of now) the particular application Marcus makes regarding partial-preterism and a bodily general resurrection that still lies in our future. The Biblical writers were interested in the spiritual application of Scripture, but they also had a high respect for the historical-redemptive flow of things. History with its unique, unrepeatable events was important to the Hebrews and has always been so to Christians. How to balance those two things is where I see the challenge to lie.

    However, one thing that I do see valuable about the thoughts Marcus has brought to the table is that the the Scriptures, though fulfilled, are still amazingly relevant and authoritative to us as guidance and explanation to the world in which we live.

    My belief is that some Preterists are so fixated on the fulfillment of prophecy and Scripture in general that they come to the simplistic conclusion that all of Scripture is relevant only to the direct audience it was written to. I call this the audience relevance "nuclear option." When Preterists do this, they end in a relativistic nihilism that is, in my opinion, the last step before falling away from the Christian Faith. My view is that Preterism opens up and enhances the Christian Faith rather than nullifying it.

    This is not to say that Preterism doesn't change things in how Christians have understood the Bible and proves "traditional" doctrines and practices in the Church. I am one who believes it can be demonstrated exegetically that some traditional practices and doctrines are now obsolete. But that is very different from starting from the a priori assumption that the Bible is only relevant to the 1st century audience.

    Thanks Marcus. This is an intriguing topic that has occupied my mind even back before you took your hiatus.

    Tim Martin
    www.truthinliving.org

    Parker's picture

    The apostles believed that the scriptures can have more than one meaning. They demonstrated this repeatedly in their handling of OT texts. Matt 2:15/Hosea 11:1-3 has already been mentioned, but there are many other apostolic interpretations that overlay a new typological interpretation upon a text having a different original meaning (e.g., Matt 2:23/Isa 7:14-16). The typological hermeneutic is an open-ended one.

    In fact (and this can be terrifying to admit), on a few occasions the apostles use the standard futurist reasoning: "well, we know it didn't fully take place back then as was supposed, THEREFORE the scripture spoke about such and such event in our times." Examples include Hebrews 4:6-8 and Acts 2:29-31. The reasoning displayed in those passages is a major departure from the grammatical-historical method, and is eerily similar to futurist lines of argumentation.

    Now, since the apostles were inspired, we can say that they had the right to their interpretation no matter how they arrived at it. Even so, a simple analysis of their interpretive method makes it impossible to rule out the possibility that AD 70 prefigures an additional, future end--and such was understood by the ECFs.

    large-hammer's picture

    Parker,
    You seem to be making my point better than I did. I think that this phenomenon is what we (i.e. everybody here) should explore.
    Marcus

    JL's picture

    Marcus,

    Looks like some people can't help repeating themselves today.

    Good to have you back.

    I see the Midrash, but I'm not very confortable with the idea of using it. I'm reminded of the "Scriptural" example: "Judas went and hanged himself," Mat. 27:15, "Go and do likewise," Luke 10:37, "Whatever you do, do quickly," John 13:27.

    JL

    Blessings,

    JL Vaughn
    Beyond Creation Science

    large-hammer's picture

    JL,
    Thanks for the welcome back. Some folks, to be more emphatic, can't help but be repetitious. Of course, I can't cast stones. I myself originally posted this article twice. I couldn't figure out how to undo my double-posting, so Virgil must have taken care of that. Thanks Virgil.
    Marcus

    MichaelB's picture

    JL - I didn't mean to repeat it.

    Doesn't change the fact that what I said is true.

    According to Marcus - you probably can't even understand what I just said above because it may have a different meaning.

    JL's picture

    Michael,

    I thought it was a clever jab. I assumed you and Sam double-posted on purpose because Marcus did. But the truth is you're as impatient as the rest of us, double clicking OK or just clicking OK! again when the computer doesn't respond fast enough.

    And Michael, I agree with you on this issue. But we both owe it to Marcus to hear him out. Midrashes were used. And because they were used, we need to understand them.

    JL

    PS: Didn't you like my midrash? :(

    Blessings,

    JL Vaughn
    Beyond Creation Science

    MichaelB's picture

    Sorry Eric - this was meant for Large Hammer.

    When does "all which was written is fulfilled" really not mean "all which was written was fulfilled" ???

    Matt 5: Law and Prophets fulfilled
    Luke 21: All which was written fulfilled
    Daniel 12: When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.

    Come on now.

    Mike Bennett

    Erick's picture

    I may be too “wise” “strong” and “deluded” but this just sounds like old fashioned mysticism. The authoritative apostles did not employ mystic interpretations of the Old Testament but typological (big difference). Much of the Old Testament by nature had a “dual-significance” if you want to call it that, but only because it contained shadows and types - the realities being ours in Christ. For example Mt. 2:15 applies Hos. 11:1 to Christ as being its fulfillment (in other words, it has been “filled full” and no more meaning can fit into it). The Apostles do not use such an approach towards other New Testament writings, do they? Why would they?

    We might follow the example of the Apostles in discovering legitimate types and shadows in the Old Testament, but that’s a far cry from claiming the Apostles used mystic interpretations of the Old Testament, and therefore we can do so with the New. Let me see if I can put this succinctly: Your argument is self-refuting for you cannot ever REALLY know that the Apostles interpreted your way (assuming you believe you’re humble enough) unless God revealed it to you apart from the meaning of the text – a text that really has no meaning. Your argument is its own refutation.

    large-hammer's picture

    Erick,
    There is a lot of stuff to address and clarify (for others as well). I'll try to do it all here. One problem is that it has become manifest that texts regarded as "messianic prophecy" are not messianic prophecy at all, at least not in the grammatical-historical sense. In other words, Moses, the Prophets and the Psalmists didn't have Jesus specifically in mind when they wrote what we might call "messianic prophecy." Rather, they wrote about their history, abiding principles, contemporary events in light of the covenant, etc. Midrashically (i.e. apart from the grammatical-historical interpretation), they are messianic prophecy. I am finding that perhaps there are zero texts that[within the grammatical-historical setting in which they arose] refer to Jesus. I must clarify here that the Midrashic interpretation is not contrary to the literal. Rather, it builds and depends upon it; it presupposes it.

    Many people assume that "messianic prophecy" or an apostolic reference to it necessitates literal (or grammatical-historical) prophecy. I maintain that at least some (if not all) of this prophecy is midrashic.

    The significance that this bears to preterism is that there is certain language that applies primarily (or grammatically-historically) to first-century events. However, this language is not necessarily exclusive to one context but may be an outworking of larger ideals or generalities. The covenant blessings and curses foretold by Moses were not singularly fulfilled. They were principles that could recur. God "coming" to deliver His people and to destroy His foes is a generic principle. The text speaks of it narrowly as a threat to particular local congregations. A single instance does not preclude subsequent application.

    It is possible that the early church was well aware of the fulfillment of prophecy in a.d. 70, but still expected future events (perhaps similar events). The vast quantity of oral teaching from the apostles makes the unanimous partial-futurism of the early church hard to explain. I have found that the language is multi-layered. Yes...this can and will be abused. Single interpretation also can be abused. The Scriptures speaking of the destruction of our present house refers in parallel fashion to both the temple of sacrifes and the temple of our body. Both of these are clothed with a new house. The temple is brought to naught by Jesus, and God raises up again our body to new life at the resurrection.

    Marcus

    shaggy_flasko's picture

    You describe a form of Historicism, yes? I just want to get a clearer picture of your ideas.

    "Feelings come and go, and when they come a good use can be made of them: they cannot be our regular spiritual diet."
    -The World's Last Night, C.S. Lewis

    MiddleKnowledge's picture

    Marcus can correct me if I am wrong, but I think what Marcus is getting at is a form of idealism that recognizes a dimension of preterism.

    Historicism is very different than idealism, though some historicists make use of idealism in their application.

    Tim Martin
    www.truthinliving.org

    Erick's picture

    Thank you for the reply Marcus, I agree with the jist of what you’re saying as far as the O.T. is concerned, but I'll have to continue to hear your arguments concerning the New Testament. Nevertheless, thank you for your article, you have obviously spent some time and effort coming to these conclusions, and we're all here to sharpen one another. May God bless your studies.
    Erick

    large-hammer's picture

    Thanks Erick
    I'm here to be sharpened as well. That's the spirit we need to have.

    MichaelB's picture

    When does "all which was written is fulfilled" really not mean "all which was written was fulfilled" ???

    Matt 5: Law and Prophets fulfilled
    Luke 21: All which was written fulfilled
    Daniel 12: When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.

    Come on now.

    Mike Bennett

    Sam's picture

    I just love this. I have studied the history of interpretation and its current status today within the academia. To admit that Scriptures have "more than one meaning" is to destroy the very foundation of the Bible. There is no certainty in anything, not even "Jesus died for my sins." Paul did not mis-quote any OT text. He quoted them as they were intended by the authors, and within their context. Case in point, "out of Egypt will I call my son." In Mat. 2.15 he quoted Hos. 11.1. Did he mis-quote this? Not at all. Notice Hos. 11.1 "When Israel was a CHILD (singular - corporate), I loved him, and out of Egypt I called him (singular pronoun)." Israel was God's "firstborn son" and God was their "father". It was out of Egypt that he brought his "firstborn" out of, in the midst of death against the "firstborn sons" of Egypt. The same thing is taking place in the New Exodus, which wa foretold by the prophets. Jesus is Israel, God's "firstborn son" and "I am his father." Jesus is Israel incorporated (a familiar Hebrew concept), and Matthew's quote is pregnant with biblical meaning. Jesus is re-enacting the Exodus, and he crosses the Jordan, too (after a period of "forty" in the Wilderness). With a new covenant, there is a change in the Law (as Jeremiah stated), and the status of "firstborn" is transferred over to Jesus, the embodiment of Israel, God's firstborn. In other words, Matthew is alluding to the New Exodus and the fact that Christ is FULFILLING the call given to Israel.

    When all else fails, the Futurist must resort to "nobody knows" what the text means, when the meaning is obvious. The problem is created by the TRADITIONS that one thinks he must adopt in order to read the Bible.....Don't blame the texts...blame the traditions.

    Samuel Frost

    Sam's picture

    I just love this. I have studied the history of interpretation and its current status today within the academia. To admit that Scriptures have "more than one meaning" is to destroy the very foundation of the Bible. There is no certainty in anything, not even "Jesus died for my sins." Paul did not mis-quote any OT text. He quoted them as they were intended by the authors, and within their context. Case in point, "out of Egypt will I call my son." In Mat. 2.15 he quoted Hos. 11.1. Did he mis-quote this? Not at all. Notice Hos. 11.1 "When Israel was a CHILD (singular - corporate), I loved him, and out of Egypt I called him (singular pronoun)." Israel was God's "firstborn son" and God was their "father". It was out of Egypt that he brought his "firstborn" out of, in the midst of death against the "firstborn sons" of Egypt. The same thing is taking place in the New Exodus, which wa foretold by the prophets. Jesus is Israel, God's "firstborn son" and "I am his father." Jesus is Israel incorporated (a familiar Hebrew concept), and Matthew's quote is pregnant with biblical meaning. Jesus is re-enacting the Exodus, and he crosses the Jordan, too (after a period of "forty" in the Wilderness). With a new covenant, there is a change in the Law (as Jeremiah stated), and the status of "firstborn" is transferred over to Jesus, the embodiment of Israel, God's firstborn. In other words, Matthew is alluding to the New Exodus and the fact that Christ is FULFILLING the call given to Israel.

    When all else fails, the Futurist must resort to "nobody knows" what the text means, when the meaning is obvious. The problem is created by the TRADITIONS that one thinks he must adopt in order to read the Bible.....Don't blame the texts...blame the traditions.

    Samuel Frost

    large-hammer's picture

    Sam,
    It seems to me that you are only conceding my point. The bottomline is this: Hosea said and meant one thing. Matthew, however, said that Hosea really meant something else, specifically that his words were a prophecy about Jesus. Grammatically-historically, nobody would derive that interpretation from the original text of Hosea.

    I agree that what's happening there is that Matthew legitimately uses Hosea to make a point about Jesus as the Christ (and the New Exodus). That doesn't change the fact that Matthew is making a mini-exposition of the text. He is interpreting (or re-interpreting) Hosea for his audience.

    Bonefide30's picture

    "He is interpreting (or re-interpreting) Hosea for his audience."

    Matthew gives "THE" interpretation. The New Testament is "THE" interpretation of the Old. Did God mean it one way in the Old but meant it a different way in the New? Is God deliberately confusing us now? Interpretation of the Scripture can be defined as such: To explain what GOD (not Hosea, Isaiah, etc.) meant by what He said. The Old Testament WAS NOT the COMPLETE Revelation of God! It was INCOMPLETE till the New Testament. Now that we have the Old & New Testament WE HAVE the complete revelation of God. (So far as He purposed to give) The New Testament reveals what God MEANT by what HE said in the Old Testament.

    So how many meanings can the Scriptures have? They have but one. If you read the Old Testament alone you will not understand what God meant by what he said in Hosea!

    BTW, only God gives illumination of the Scriptures, not rules. So why rules! Because Scripture is Literature! And unless you are inspired as the Apostles and Prophets were when they wrote the Scriptures, you must interpret Scripture literally i.e. as literature. Hermenuetics are guidelines to keep us from making our own "private" interpretations of Scripture.

    If you read this far, may God open your eyes to SEE!

    In Christ
    Brian Hildebran

    large-hammer's picture

    Bonefide30,

    What you are saying here illustrates the dilemma. If, as you say, Matthew gives "THE" interpretation, then THE interpretation is not grammatical-historical but something else.

    Indeed, a strict grammatical-historical interpretation of Hosea would NEVER lead to Matthew's interpretation. NOBODY reading Hosea strictly within his historical context would think that he is REALLY speaking of the boy Jesus and his departure from Egypt. So...Matthew's interpretation, in this instance, must go beyond the plain textual meaning.

    MiddleKnowledge's picture

    Yes, this is the problem. Thank you for pointing it out, Marcus.

    Tim Martin
    www.truthinliving.org

    MichaelB's picture

    We all know prophecy is spoken in dark sayings. God admitted that His prophecy, through the prophets, would not be easily understood. Not even by the prophets.

    Point being, it is not what Hosea THOUGHT the prophecy he wrote meant...it is about what GOD meant through Hosea, His mouthpiece.

    God Bless
    Nate

    Parker's picture

    Marcus:
    The bottomline is this: Hosea said and meant one thing. Matthew, however, said that Hosea really meant something else, specifically that his words were a prophecy about Jesus. Grammatically-historically, nobody would derive that interpretation from the original text of Hosea.

    Parker:
    That's exactly right. In fact, using the grammatical-historical method, we understand that Jeremiah 31:31-34 ORIGINALLY spoke of the return out of the Babylonian exile, that Isa 7:13-16 ORIGINALLY spoke of Ahaz's child, and that Hebrews 3:17-4:9 actually WAS fulfilled in Joshua's day, in spite of the apostle's argument to the contrary. (See Josh 21:43-45). Joshua clearly says the "rest" was attained, and this is therefore the ORIGINAL meaning. That the apostles find a different, messianic meaning is for the promised "rest" (Heb 3:7-4:11) is a radical departure from the grammatical-historical method.

    Sam's picture

    Parker,

    That's insanity at best. The author of Hebrews finds that Joshua's "rest" was not God's INTENDED rest based on quoted PSALM 90! The Apostles did not invent this, the Hebrew Scriptures did!

    Samuel

    Parker's picture

    Sam:
    That's insanity at best. The author of Hebrews finds that Joshua's "rest" was not God's INTENDED rest based on quoted PSALM 90! The Apostles did not invent this, the Hebrew Scriptures did!

    Parker:
    I understand this, Sam. You're not taking anything away from my point. Joshua clearly says that the promised "rest" was attained (See Josh 21:43-45), and this is therefore the ORIGINAL meaning. We have the prophet Joshua's inspired interpretation on it. Furthermore, the historical-grammatical method demands that we accept that interpretation. Now, we may indeed proceed to discover a different, typological interpretation for the "rest," for such an interpretive method was common to the apostles. Yet, as I pointed out before, the typological method is open-ended, and therefore makes possible that AD 70 prefigures another end--and such was understood by the first christians.

    davo's picture

    I do think there is indeed more than one way to skin a cat, and this is interesting stuff, but with such an "open-ended" approach does not "prophecy" become somewhat of an endless loop - like how many times is prophecy fulfilled before it is "fulfilled"? How easy is it then for the authoritative nature of Scripture to be placed in the hands of and be at the mercy of, the interpreter/s - and thus made to say anything?

    Again, interesting stuff.

    davo – pantelism.com –

    Parker's picture

    DAVO:
    I do think there is indeed more than one way to skin a cat, and this is interesting stuff, but with such an "open-ended" approach does not "prophecy" become somewhat of an endless loop - like how many times is prophecy fulfilled before it is "fulfilled"?

    PARKER:
    We cannot avoid the fact that scripture itself teaches multiple "fulfillments" of singular prophetic texts. Nor can we avoid that the meanings given to those texts can shift away from the original and yet be valid. How this is possible or how often this can "loop" is beyond our knowing. Yet, that prophetic scriptures can "loop" is beyond question.

    DAVO:
    How easy is it then for the authoritative nature of Scripture to be placed in the hands of and be at the mercy of, the interpreter/s - and thus made to say anything?

    PARKER:
    Sola scriptura produces that result already. As an experiment, and using "sola scriptura" for a basis, ask ten people to define the apostolic understanding of "baptism." Surprisingly, you can get 10 different answers--and they can't all be right. So we see, scripture can be made to say anything, even when individuals agree to utilize the "sola scriptura" approach to arriving at a single truth. So the issue of authority does eventually come into play in resolving such disputes.

    So then, why do we accept the apostles' colorful interpretations of the Old Testament when so many of their peers rejected their teachings as spurious? We do so because of historic results. The apostles, against all odds, succeeded in launching a worldwide faith as planned--therefore we believe their teaching. The apostles said Jerusalem was going down, and it did--therefore we believe their teaching. Second and third generation Christians witnessed the apostles lives, miracles, and teachings and passed the faith on to future generations--therefore we believe the apostles' teaching.

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