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

Liz Fried lizfried at
Thu Feb 15 11:46:39 EST 2001

Dear All,
If I may interject a comment here.
What I found offensive in someone's post was a quote from
the gospel of john, and a comment to the effect that a passage in the OT/HB
*foreshadowed* something in the NT.
I find the term offensive because it implied to me that the OT was written
primarily to foreshadow the new. That I find offensive.

There are other issues of course.
One is the belief that NT writers spoke
*inerrently* when they interpret OT texts. This is a problem because
the view of the NT writer is not offered as one view among many which
may be discussed as part of a history of tradition. But it is offered as
*revealed*, and *inerrent.*   This is reminiscent of a discussion on Isaiah
I had
in which my interlocutor stated that Jesus' remarks were more authoritative
than Blenkinsopp's. For me they are not more authoritative at all, in fact
for me Blenkinsopp is more authoritative than Jesus, even if it could be
proven that Jesus did say whatever is attributed to him.

It's not that I object to someone saying that Jesus said something. It's
that I find it irrelevant. Jesus was not an authority on Isaiah, and even if
he was when he lived, his views, to me, are 1970 years out of date. He
did not have the benefit of archaeology, etc. I find Ibn Ezra's views on
Isaiah helpful, and enlightening, but I still prefer Blenkinsopp.

Another issue is the purpose of the list. I would find it interesting to
compare Paul's view of say, the garden of Eden story, with traditional
Jewish interpretation, and with what we think the author of the story
meant to convey. I wouldn't mind discussing that, but for me those
would be *three* different interpretations, not two. That is, what the
author intended to convey is not necessarily going to be how Paul
interpreted it or how the rabbis did. But is how the NT writers or later
Jewish tradition interpreted a text relevant on this list when we admit
that these later traditions were not inerrent and had no more access to
revealed truth than, say, Blenkinsopp?

So there are two views that can cause difficulties: 1) the view that the OT
was written primarily to foreshadow the new, and 2) that the writers
of the NT were inerrent in their interpretation of the HB. I object to both
these views.
I do expect Conservative Christians to hold them of course. I expect those
hold them to recognize that others don't necessarily, and that some find
them offensive
when stated dogmatically.

Liz Fried
Ann Arbor,MI

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Washburn [mailto:dwashbur at]
> Sent: Thursday, February 15, 2001 10:41 AM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know
> 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
> "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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