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

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Fri Feb 16 21:25:09 EST 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: Friday, February 16, 2001 20:25
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know
> >[SNIP]
> >>
> >> It is a hypothesis.
> >
> >Yours is not?

> The magic word in the statement was "a".

Actually, mine is based on good historiography, so i don't consider it just
one of many possible options. There is such a thing, Ian, as *known* history
which is not just a hypothesis. Your view, by definition, is uniquely a

> What got put into the mouth of Jesus doesn't equal what Jesus 
> said. You are
> historicizing literary figures. Do you think Shakespeare's 
> Richard III is
> the real Richard III?

Richard III is obviously *intended* by its *author* as a non-historical
characterization in drama. The Biblical writers present their characters as
fully historical--not mere drama--and argue that such a position as
necessary to everything they say. Some subtle, hidden, minor difference, eh?

> >Jesus was not a mere literary fraud but a
> >real, historical person according to Paul in 1 Cor. 15 (and 
> other places).
> I'm making no statements about Jesus per se. I'm talking 
> about you deciding
> what is historical without showing any means to allow you to do so.

So now you know why the difference: authorial intent.

> >Authorship and integrity, if i recall correctly, of 1 Corinthians is
> >accepted even by unbelieving scholarship. They don't believe 
> it's true, but
> >they accept that Paul believed it. Paul is not disputed as a 
> historical
> >character, and it's my personal opinion that he was also a man of
> integrity.
> Hey, Paul seems kosher.

Good. He's an honest man with a lot to say about the issues we're discussing
here! He was also well-trained in the HB and says an awful lot about it. 

> >I assume at least a minimum of historicity/integrity to something as
> obvious
> >even from the most critical standpoint; you *appear* to 
> assume nothing in
> >the text could have integrity if it's inconvenient for your
> presuppositions.
> Actually, it's safer not to assume anything about the 
> historicity of a text
> until you can place the text in its original context.

Perhaps, but which thing *cannot* be done without assuming *something* about
that text (even if it is only to presume that the text is false at every
point where it claims divine authorship)! (a circle here maybe?)

> >> >might not be final, it should at least be
> >> >worthy of discussion. I can't see any scholarly reason why
> >> >it should be categorically dismissed.
> >>
> >> Isn't our basic job to discuss what the writers of the Hebrew
> >> texts were saying? How do you imagine these writers writing the
> >> materials that you want to interpret in a particular way: were
> >> they cogniscent of the contents of the materials they were
> >> writing? If they were, then *their* message -- as
> >> writers of the texts -- is what should interest us, how it is
> >> worded, who it was written for, why it was written, when it was
> >> written. These things come from the text and the precise
> >> historical period it was written in.
> >
> >We are in absolute, total agreement. Amazing, huh?!!
> I don't believe you.

I can't do anything about your faith--or lack thereof--in me or anything

> >> >Further, since such interpretations are significant to 
> Christians for
> >> >understanding the Hebrew Bible,
> >>
> >> This is a statement of (obviously some form of Christian) 
> belief which
> will
> >> not be acceptable to all on this list.
> >
> >Which is precisely what i assume in stating it. It only applies to
> >Christians.
> Subset of Christians, Dan, subset.

Depending on ones definition of the term. I follow the one presented in the
NT. However, i am not aware of *any* professing Christian who considers the
NT obsolete/irrelevant for understanding the OT/HB. Perhaps it is only my

> >> A text should be understandable when
> >> one has control of all the words in the text and how they
> >> functioned at the time of writing.
> >
> >Correct.
> >
> >> >it's actually impossible to exclude them
> >> >entirely from consideration unless the Christian interpretation is
> >> >dismissed/excluded a priori.
> >>
> >> How does what one says a hundred, two hundred, maybe five
> >> hundred years later change the meaning of the writer's text?
> >
> >It should not, cannot, and does not *change* the meaning. 
> I'm against the
> >idea that the NT writers or any other interpreter can or 
> should change the
> >meaning of any text. They may argue logical conclusions, expand, give
> >implications, interpret what was formerly ambiguous or 
> elusive in meaning,
> >but they can never alter or reinterpret the meaning of a passage.
> I guess then that GMk 13:26 for example, when it talks about 
> THE son of man
> coming in clouds, is not a change of meaning from the original text it
> cites. 

Correct. The Son of Man in Dan. 7 "was given authority, glory, and a
kingdom; that all peoples, nations and every language should worship Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His
kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." So He is the divine Messiah.
Mark, quoting Jesus, uses that same language to describe the future coming
of that same Person who, according to Christians, is Jesus.

> Then there's the later total occultation of significance in the
> second half of Daniel.
> >> >If one is willing to discuss the viability of
> >> >only those interpretative alternatives which are
> >> non-Christian, then that
> >> >should be one's own, self-imposed decision.
> >>
> >> Are we not discussing what the *writers* wrote?
> >
> >YES!
> >
> >>
> >> If you can establish some means of making the interpretations
> >> that interest you relevant to the production of the texts under
> >> discussion, it would make your case more credible.
> >
> >OK, this gets a bit theological, but since you asked, i will do that
> >concisely! The "production of the texts under discussion" 
> was not performed
> >by men alone with mere human agenda to promote Judah, 
> Israel, David, the
> >priesthood, etc. I find such arguments unconvincing.
> You may. But you are not doing your job by discounting things 
> out of hand.

If i discounted them out of hand, as you presume upon me, then you are
correct. Fortunately i don't have to do that. I could say it's based on the
evidence but without supporting such a statement, it might be offense to
you? What can i say without getting into a whole new discussion?

> >Rather, that
> >"production" was under the direction of the Holy Spirit as 
> He moved men to
> >speak/write (e.g. 2 Sm. 23:2, but constantly emphasized that 
> the message
> was
> >from Yahweh, e.g. over 40X in Lev. alone), not for human 
> agenda, but for a
> >divine agenda.
> Without my questioning your assumption per se, how do you demonstrate
> this?? -- to a Hindu, for example.

Very difficult. In fact, usually impossible unless that same Holy Spirit
helps me do it. But sometimes that happens in spite of the general rule set
down in Romans 1. I have some good Christian friends who were former Hindus.

> >Thus we find a unity throughout the Hebrew Bible that is
> >always designed to reveal to man the way of salvation.
> Sorry, but so far you are stringing assumptions together.

I can definitely demonstrate this but it's too much work for the moment! I
suggest instead that you try reading a few books: G. Vos _Biblical
Theology_, J. Barton Payne's _Theology of the Older Testament_, Walter
Kaiser's _Toward an OT Theology_, O. T. Allis' commentary on the Pentateuch
(very short, just came back in print), also his work on the unity of the
Pent. and on unity of Isaiah if your interested in those books.

> >One ultimate Author
> >behind the texts gives the one unified message we find;
> Another.

It's stated in the various texts. So it's not an assumption which in impose
from the outside. You are the one imposing an assumption from the outside
(from your own mind) upon those texts (namely, that all such claims are

> >He had one agenda.
> Yet another. Dan, you're not doing the job at all. You are 
> not establishing
> a means of making the interpretations that interest you 
> relevant to the
> production of the texts under discussion by merely a series 
> of assumptions
> and apparently uncritical approach to our texts.

Obviously my summary does not include all the critical analysis upon which
it is founded. If that is what you were expecting, i apologize from
disappointing you. For now, i again suggest you read those works above and
others, and perhaps from time to time (to try to satisfy you!) i'll make
some posts that relate to the unity of the HB/OT from a
critical/scholarly/philological perspective. But i have other reasons for
being on this list and don't want to spend all my time on "apologetics" for
my views in contrast to the constant "apologetics" which you have for your
views. Unlike yourself, i am not a single-agenda person on this list. There
is much to learn, discuss, contribute, and enjoy here besides just being an
apologist for your own personal system of believe, Ian.

> >Since, according to the text, that same Holy Spirit also was 
> behind "the
> >interpretations that interest [me]" in the NT, He can't be 
> contradicting
> >Himself; He is still contributing to that same divine agenda 
> of revealing
> >the necessity and the way of salvation to man.
> >
> >Now, while many will not accept this, i only ask that you 
> consider that for
> >those who do, it's going to have some bearing on our 
> presuppositions to the
> >Hebrew text from which we cannot be asked to divorce ourselves,
> This indicates to me that you are making yourself incapable 
> of dealing with
> the nude, crude text, Dan, that your presuppositions will 
> protect you from
> it.

No, this would not be true, even if my presuppositions happened to be false.
I consider all interpretations of the text for evaluation. See my final
paragraph below.

> >and that for
> >our worldview it's an *entirely* creditable view, even as we 
> recognize that
> >for those with an alternative worldview it may appear 
> ridiculous. Others
> are
> >free to deny that they have presuppositions outside the text,
> It is noble to recognize one's presuppositions, but that its 
> only the first
> step in the process.  The next is to attempt to neutralise 
> them when doing
> historical or philological work.

Are you telling me that *you* are now willing to consider the possibility
that your presupposition that the text is written merely by men is a false
one?!! (After all, *if* they *were* messages from Yahweh, then surely this
would have philological/historical implications for you!)

> >but i have no
> >personal desire to join such ideology. Let's just get on with the
> >discussions as best we can
> I doubt that the attitude you seem to espouse will get much 
> discussion on
> that which might interest you from people who are not of 
> those convictions.

That is not just likely; it is certain. Some reject, for example, an
interpretation of Isaiah as intending a virgin birth since it is a Christian
interpretation and therefore an impossible one which should not even be
considered or discussed. On the other hand, while i reject many views
presented on this list, i am potentially willing to engage *all* of them if
i have time/interest to do so. Who is the one who lost some opportunities?

Dan Wagner

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