The folks at the Bulletin for Biblical Research have very kindly agreed to publish a revised version of my presentation from the November, 2009 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society: “Rewriting Prophets in the Corinthian Correspondence: A Window on Paul’s Hermeneutic.” To provide just a bit fuller picture of the essay’s argument:
In the broadest sense of the phrase, any use of Jewish scripture by a later author(s) could be understood to constitute a form of ‘rewritten Bible’. The phrase ‘rewritten Bible’ has, however, come to have a technical meaning whereby it designates a certain body of ancient, Jewish literature. The precise shape of this body of literature continues to be debated, but even with consensus on this specific point as far away as it is, ‘rewritten Bible’ can contribute valuable information to the study of Paul’s use of scripture. In particular, ‘rewritten Bible’ provides a useful foil for the study of Paul’s citations in 1 Cor 1:31 and 2 Cor 10:17 and the hermeneutical paradigm upon which these citations’ validity implicitly rests. In this case, Paul’s connections with ‘rewritten Bible’ literature especially help suggest the constitutive, hermeneutical role that Jesus played as Paul interpreted scripture for the Corinthian church within the broader context of some of the hermeneutical traditions of his near contemporaries.
Regarding the place of Jesus in Paul’s hermeneutic, James Aageson suggests that
[Paul’s] hermeneutic is inherently theological and is governed by his experience on the Damascus road and its legacy. From a persecutor of the early church, Paul was transformed into a man with a mission to carry the name of Jesus to the Gentile world. The divine mystery that was revealed to Paul in Christ opens for him new ways of reading and listening to the ancient texts of the Jewish people. His belief in Christ is both an experience and a conviction that, in his eyes, allows him to comprehend the “true” meaning of the religion of his people and their sacred texts (155–56).
The scare quotes (“true”) suggest, on Aageson’s part, at least some reluctance to give an imprimatur to what he considers to be Paul’s view of proper meaning(s) for scripture read in light of Jesus (cf. 158, 180), but Jesus certainly played a constitutive role for Paul’s hermeneutic and, under Paul’s influence and teaching, the churches that Paul planted and the congregations that he addressed.