Gal 3:16 as midrash (was...)

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at
Sun Mar 11 23:20:19 EST 2001

Dear Charles,

I see where you are coming from, but from a Christian's theological
standpoint, Christ Jesus was a central part of the Abrahamic promise, for
it was through Abraham's seed that God would bring His Son into the world.
The people of Israel were a people especially prepared for the birth of the
Messiah, the One who would bring salvation to all mankind. This was all
part of an eternal plan for the redemption of a sinful world through the
Son of God, a plan divulged to some extent in HB prophecy.

			Harold Holmyard

>If the point you wish to make is that midrashim seldom conform to anything
>close to what is generally acceptable exegesis as practiced in our guild
>today, then there is no argument.  But saying that Paul was no worse than
>others is not exactly the same thing as that his interpretation is
>exegetically responsible or that his view of Jesus is commended by the texts
>which he is purporting to use from the HB.  In other words, there are
>certainly many other cases where midrashic method rockets out into the ether
>to make a point already firmly believed by its author well before he took
>pen in hand.  And we are hard pressed to understand the reason for many of
>these interpretations.  Of course, we now view them as a part of the history
>of Jewish exegesis, valuable in pointing out how readers of the Bible in a
>certain era handled a text.  But no one I know is constrained to champion
>them as THE correct interpretation of a biblical passage.
>So Paul was probably quite in line with midrashic canons of his day.  But
>still his conclusion reads to me that a promise made to Abraham involving
>countless numbers of descendants actually referred to the one person whom he
>wished to sponsor as the deity of the new religion he was founding.  Paul's
>view may be acceptable to his followers who believe what he believed about
>Jesus.  I have no quarrel with that.  But his view is not what the HB text
>says by any standard of exegesis of which I am aware.  Lacking his
>presuppositions and prior commitment to his particular definition of Jesus,
>I hardly think that any 21st century interpreter would reach his conclusion.
>Such an attempt today would be justifiably judged an egregious example of
>EIS-egesis, would it not?
>Charles David Isbell
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