Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Thu Feb 15 10:41:23 EST 2001


Charles,
First, please don't send items to both the list and my personal 
address, all it does is give me two copies of the message.  One is 
sufficient, thank you.  Second, please don't put words in my 
mouth.  I didn't say anything about what the NT does or doesn't 
prove, so please don't attribute such comments to me.  If you're 
going to reply to me, please represent my words accurately or 
don't respond.

Now to specifics:
> Ah, my dear Dave,
> You totally miss the point.  Imagine, if you will, a discussion list titled
> B-NTGREEK.  Imagine that into the heart of a discussion of the meaning of a
> difficult passage in the Greek text, a practicing Muslim should seek to
> establish his personal belief that THE meaning of the NT has been "proven"
> by the teaching of the Holy Qur'an.  Let us further suppose that your Muslim
> list brother appeals to the Qur'anic view of the NT claims about the
> divinity of Jesus, for example.  And let us finally suppose that, when you
> have pointed out that his sacred book is not authoritative for you and that
> the later literature of the Qur'an has nothing at all to do with what the NT
> does or does not mean anyway, he pretends to be a wounded soul who is
> insulted that people who are Muslim are not being given equal time in a
> discussion of the NT.

You have so thoroughly missed my point that I'm not sure where to 
begin.  If a Muslim were to tell me this, I would at least have the 
decency to discuss it with him instead of jumping down his throat 
for having convictions.  In point of actual fact, I have had several 
such discussions by private email with Muslims, Mormons, 
Jehovah's Witnesses and a host of others.  I would not be so 
arrogant as to make the statement you suggest, because the 
Muslim approach to interpreting the NT is part of the history of that 
work's interpretation, just as the NT is part of the history of 
interpretation of the HB.  That's a fact of history.  If you can't handle 
it, that's not my fault.  But to just arbitrarily tell someone they can't 
speak up because they happen to have convictions is absurd, and 
is the very antithesis of scholarship.

> My answer to your question is simple.  No, I don't care if you choose to
> feel insulted by the plain truth that the NT [or the Qur'an or the Baghavad
> Ghita or the Book of Mormon] cannot be used to PROVE the meaning of the
> Hebrew Bible.  

Excuse me, Charles, but you were the one who claimed to be 
insulted, not I.  I said that it's insulting when you try to exclude 
someone else's view because you don't happen to share it.  The 
statements about how the NT approaches the OT had to do with 
methods of interpretation, and those are legitimate topics for 
discussion when talking about the HB.  

You may consign one of the world's great literary
> masterpieces to merely the role of "foreshadowing" what you BELIEVE, and you
> may do so by appealing to another literary body that is authoritative for
> you but not for us all.  But in so doing, you have not considered the
> literature and the language of the HB itself.  When I begin to tell you that
> my Bible trumps your Bible, THEN you may feel insulted.  

Nobody said any such thing.  These statements appear to 
emanate from that chip on your shoulder.

No, I don't think a
> "B-Hebrew" list is an appropriate place for a discussion of what the NT does
> to the plain sense of the Hebrew text any more than it is appropriate for me
> to discuss the Talmudic reconstruction of the Miqra' into rabbinic Judaism
> or a Muslim to insist upon the Qur'anic version of the divinity of Jesus.

If it relates to interpretation of the HB, bring it up!  Why not?  And 
by pontificating about what constitutes the "plain sense of the 
Hebrew text" you are making a value judgment and statement of 
belief.  So why shouldn't I start telling you that you can't do that 
because all you're doing is expressing your BELIEF?  Why is it all 
right for you but not for someone else?  If you have the right to 
state your beliefs, or the beliefs of some group that is part of the 
history of interpretation, then I have the same right and so does 
Dan.  I will not abide under  the kind of double standard that you 
are trying to suggest.

> In short, NO "confessional" approach is appropriate to the list as I read
> its guidelines.  Not yours, not mine.
> If you consider my answer an overreaction, well and good.  I consider your
> appeal to the NT an admission that you cannot read the HB on its own terms.
> When there is a list for discussing how the NT interprets the HB, I'll be
> glad to join and discuss with you the methods that are used, etc.

The arrogance of this statement is staggering.  I read the HB on its 
own terms, but I also try to be honest enough to look at competing 
methods of interpretation instead of just writing one or another off 
because I don't happen to like it.  Methods of interpretation abound, 
and all are entitled to a hearing when we talk about the Hebrew 
text.  The Christian approach is one of those methods. It's 
legitimate and historically significant.  Get used to it.



Dave Washburn
http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
"No study of probabilities inside a given frame can ever
tell us how probable it is that the frame itself can be
violated."  C. S. Lewis



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