Limits of exegetical aids Was: Elohim not Plural

Ken Smith kens at
Tue Jan 29 18:05:03 EST 2002

And I would also add, using either the NT or the Talmud as a lens is a
legitimate way to read the texts when they are being read as part of a
tradition, i.e., in private or corporate worship.  That texts may
legitimately change in meaning over time is an idea peculiar to neither
Judaism nor Christianity, but is indeed an accepted part of literary
criticism.  Arguably, the tradition of reading texts through the lens of
later developments is not nearly so odd as the attempt to read these
texts without that lens.  The only reason we have these texts in the
first place is because they have been handed down by communities who
read them as speaking not just to ancient Israel, but to their own
contexts as well.  These texts survive only because, through a variety
of hermeneutical strategies, they helped their readers survive.  
The meaning that the texts held when they first achieved their current
form is, admittedly, quite interesting and valuable to know.  But the
meanings which they have held ever since, and the trajectories of
interpretation which they have inspired and continue to inspire, are
where the texts come to life, and attain to a more than purely
antiquarian interest.  I read the Bible not because I am a scholar (I'm
not, at least, not yet), but because in it I meet the same Lord who
meets me every Sunday.
It is for this reason that I sympathize with Shoshanna's Talmudic and
Kabbalistic reading of the Torah, even if (a) I do not share that
specific tradition, and (b) I try to be somewhat more circumspect and
nuanced in my marshalling of later interpretative tendencies, by
acknowledging their relative (and yet still authoritative) nature.  (And
hence, their tendentious character with respect to the purposes of this

-----Original Message-----
From: Polycarp66 at [mailto:Polycarp66 at] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2002 10:56 AM
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: Limits of exegetical aids Was: Elohim not Plural

In a message dated 1/29/2002 1:27:56 PM Eastern Standard Time,
lizfried at writes: 

Yet, others want to use the NT. 
Why should one be privileged over the other? You may think 
that only your sacred scriptures hold the key, but others 
equally vehemently think only theirs does. 
To my way of thinking, both are late and tendentious. 
The Hebrew Bible ought to be interpeted on the basis 
of itself and other contemporary documents. 
I'd say before 150 bce, and the DSS copies of the tanak. 

Well put though I have no objection to insights from either rabbinic
thought or from the NT.  I simply would not use them to determine what
they may have meant when written.  They are of value in understanding
what they were later understood to mean. 

gfsomsel ---
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