Roland Deines on Halakah and Community Definition

In reading Roland Deines’ essay in Second Temple Judaism (“The Pharisees Between ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Common Judaism’”), I came across the following, astute paragraph: If it is correct that it was particularly halakah that constituted Pharisees as Pharisees, it is also true that it constituted Essenes as Essenes and Sadducees as Sadducees. The same can be […]

The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861–1986: Interaction

Neill’s stated purpose for his book was “to provide a narrative [about the interpretation of the New Testament] that can be read without too much trouble by the non-theologian who is anxious to know and is prepared to devote some time to the subject” (ix). This task he seems to have done masterfully well, with […]

The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861–1986: Summary

N. T. Wright’s revision of Stephen Neill’s, Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861–1986, attempts a concise, but significantly narratival, survey of various issues in New Testament scholarship during the period in question. To this end, Neill and Wright discuss: (i) the challenge to orthodoxy (1–34); (ii) the New Testament and its relationship to history (35–64); […]

A Hermeneutic of Love

Communication is hermeneutical; it involves people sending and receiving messages. To make the communication process work, the sender(s) and receiver(s) both have to meet their own particular, communicative responsibilities. Of course, with literature like the New Testament, the people who sent the messages it contains cannot clarify or supplement anything they have already said. So, […]

Hermeneutical Method, Part 2

A corollary problem to the tension between the old and the new was the tension between the absolute and the relative. No one would have dared relativize the words of the Highest, but some heretical sects thought parts of scripture (notably the Old Testament) were products of a lesser god. This position allowed them safely […]

Hermeneutical Method, Part 1

The second century saw several, very live issues about hermeneutical method, such as the necessity to actualize scripture (i.e., to interpret scripture in a manner consistent with its supreme importance), the necessity to actualize according to rules (e.g., the rule of faith), and the reality that the actualizations are largely determined by community contexts. Therefore, […]