Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Hermeneutic of Reinterpretation

It’s no wonder we have so many differences in understanding Scripture. Take these quotes for example:

The Old Testament must be interpreted by the New Testament. In principle it is quite possible that the prophecies addressed originally to literal Israel describing physical blessings have their fulfillment exclusively in the spiritual blessings enjoyed by the church. It is also possible that the Old Testament expectation of a kingdom on earth could be reinterpreted by the New Testament altogether of blessings in the spiritual realm. (Historic premillennialist George Ladd)

But eschatological themes are reinterpreted in the New Testament, where we are told these Old Testament images are types and shadows of the glorious realities that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ…This [literal interpretation of the Bible] leaves dispensationalists frequently stuck in the awkward position of insisting on an Old Testament interpretation of a prophetic theme that has been reinterpreted in the New Testament in the light of the messianic age which dawned in Jesus Christ. (Amillennialist Kim Riddlebarger)

Jesus and the apostles reinterpreted the Old Testament…Their selective and dualistic hermeneutic leads Christian Zionists to ignore how Jesus and the apostles reinterpreted the Old Testament. (Anti-Zionist Stephen Sizer)

Jesus spent His whole ministry redefining what the kingdom meant. He refused to give up the symbolic language of the kingdom, but filled it with such a new content that, as we have seen, he powerfully subverted Jewish expectations. (Theologian N. T. Wright)

Redefining? Re-interpreting? These “theologians” are dead serious! I’ve been reading self-proclaimed ex-dispie Kim Riddlebarger’s “A Case for Amillennialism” and have a potential bald spot from where I’ve been scratching my head re his methodology.

The OT has some specific and detailed statements that address the future of Israel. If the NT redefines or re-interprets these then it is nothing more than abrogation.

If Ladd is correct that the NT reinterprets the OT, his hermeneutic does raise some serious questions. How can the integrity of the OT text be maintained? In what sense can the OT really be called a revelation in its original meaning? (Paul Feinberg)

If NT reinterpretation reverses, cancels, or seriously modifies OT promises to Israel, one wonders how to define the word "progressive.‟ God‟s faithfulness to His promises to Israel must also be explained… It appears exceedingly doubtful that the NT reinterprets the OT. . . . This comes perilously close to conflicting with such NT passages as Matt 5:18 and John 10:35b. (David L Turner)

The quotes above have been taken from an article at Mike Vlach’s website. You can read it HERE.

Dr Paul Henebury makes some observations of his own. Here’s one of them:

By assuming, without sufficient warrant, that the New Testament must be used to [re]interpret the Old Testament, CT in practice denies to the OT its own perspicuity, its own integrity as inspired revelation, and creates a “canon within a canon.”

Read the rest of Dr Henebury's post HERE.

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