Proof Texts

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Tue Dec 19 17:30:57 EST 2000

Ian Hutchesson states, "Ideas written centuries after the time of writing
have nothing to do with that contextualisation necessary to understand the

If this is true, then none of our posts are relevant to contextualization
either. We are more centuries removed than was Matthew. He had just as much
right to interpret as we, and some cultural, social, and linguistic
advantages which we do not have (his other advantages, which you viciously
attacked below, are off-list topics; let's have enough respect to keep them
there). I have assumed that history of interpretation was in vogue on this
list, as long as it is never made an end in itself (which has not been

Rather than seek for the moderators to end certain discussions, my vote is
to pursue discussion of the text (within each scholar's range of interest &
knowledge) and seek to avoid such disappointments. 

Dan Wagner

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2000 17:01
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: Proof Texts

I wonder if the moderator's may intervene on aspects of this thread.

What NT understandings have to do with the significance of an OT/HB text, as
we have to deal with it, may be as relevant as Charles Manson's thoughts to
Beatles lyrics.

I have tried to put forward on this list the necessity of working to
understand the writer's context in order to understand what he is writing
about. Ideas written centuries after the time of writing have nothing to do
with that contextualisation necessary to understand the text.


Charles David Isbell wrote:

>But I do not think
>any NT reconstruction of a biblical oracle allows interpreters of either
>faith to withdraw from the struggle to understand the meaning of a sermon
>a person preaching almost 600 years before there was a Jesus with whom to
>connect Isaiah 42.   Surely for a 6th century prophet in Babylon to have
>spoken about events in 1st century Roman Judea would have been the height
>irresponsibility to his own people, [..]

(I understand your argument here, Charles, and partially agree, but it would
seem to me that you are taking a literary context as though it were a
historical context, which seems to me not to be kosher in scholarly debate.)

>to employ the NT to interpret Isaiah is to take a blind alley.  Such a
>method cannot help us to understanding ISAIAH, but has significance only
>with respect to one's understanding of the NT and Christianity.

And I'm in wholehearted agreement with this sentiment.


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