Solutions to the Synoptic Problem 5: Johann Herder

Herder

Herder thought that Mark most exactly reproduced UrevOr. Matthew reproduced it with expansions, and Luke, aware of these expansions, “wished to create ‘an actual historical account’ after a wholly Hellenistic pattern.” Herder also hypothesized that “[s]ome forty years later John . . . wrote an ‘echo of the earlier Gospels at a higher pitch’ which undertook to set forth Jesus as the Savior of the world. . . .”

See Kümmel 79–83. Please see the symbol key for an explanation of the diagrams in this post series.


In this post:

Werner Kümmmel
Werner Kümmel

SBL Greek Font

sbl-greek

The Unicode Greek font that the Society of Biblical Literature has developed is complete and available for download.
Downloading and usage are free for non-commercial projects, but the font itself is not open-source.

For assistance with the SBL Greek and Hebrew fonts, you can also email font support.

Irenaeus on the Fourfold Gospel Tradition

Irenaeus of Lyons
Irenaeus of Lyons (Image via Wikipedia)

In the third book of his work, Against Heresies, Irenaeus takes up a defense of the fourfold Gospel tradition. This defense proceeds as follows:

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” [1 Tim. iii. 15] of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. . . . As also David says, when entreating His manifestation, “Thou that sittest between the cherubim, shine forth.” [Ps. lxxx. 1] For the cherubim, too, were four-faced, and their faces were images of the dispensation of the Son of God. For, [as the Scripture] says, “The first living creature was like a lion,” [Rev. iv. 7] symbolizing His effectual working, His leadership, and royal power; the second [living creature] was like a calf, signifying [His] sacrificial and sacerdotal order; but “the third had, as it were, the face as of a man,”—an evident description of His advent as a human being; “the fourth was like a flying eagle,” pointing out the gift of the Spirit hovering with His wings over the Church [Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.11.8 (ANF 1:428)].

In the middle of this quotation, Irenaeus draws together the point to which he believes the fourfold Gospel tradition finally moves: “From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains [συνέχων] all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit [ἑνὶ δὲ πνεύματι συνεχόμενον]” [Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.11.8 (ANF 1:428; PG 7:885)]. For Irenaeus, therefore, the Spirit produced a theologically exclusive, fixed corpus that existed before that corpus became a formally recognized, sociological reality in the church.


In this post:

Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox
Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox

J. P. Migne
J. P. Migne

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, if communication is to happen, any modern readers, or receivers, must try to understand the text’s own communicative horizon, for all the problems that task entails (see this post for a discussion). On this task, consider the following, insightful comments from N. T. Wright’s New Testament and the People of God:

I suggest, then, that the epistemology which I outlined earlier—that which sees knowledge as part of the responsibility of those made in the image of the creator to act responsibly and wisely with in the created world—results, at the level of literature, in a sensitive critical realism. We must renounce the fiction of a god’s-eye view of events on the one hand and a collapsing of event into significance or perception on the other. Until we really address this question, most of the present battles about reading the gospels—and most past ones too, for that matter—will be dialogues of the deaf, doomed to failure. But, for a start, I suggest a possible hermeneutical model . . . a hermeneutic of love.

In love, at least in the idea of agape as we find it in some parts of the New Testament, the lover affirms the reality and the otherness of the beloved. Love does not seek to collapse the beloved into terms of itself; and, even though it may speak of losing itself in the beloved, such a loss always turns out to be a true finding. In the familiar paradox, one becomes fully oneself when losing oneself to another. In the fact of love, in short, both parties are simultaneously affirmed.

When applied to reading texts, this means that the text can be listened to on its own terms, without being reduced to the scale of what the reader can or cannot understand at the moment. If it is puzzling, the good reader will pay it the compliment of struggling to understand it, of living with it and continuing to listen. But however close the reader gets to understanding the text, the reading will still be peculiarly that reader’s reading: the subjective is never lost, nor is it desirable that it should be. At this level, ‘love’ will mean ‘attention’: the readiness to let the other be the other, the willingness to grow and change oneself in relation to the other (63–64; italics original).


In this post:

N. T. Wright
N. T. Wright

Summary of Validity in Interpretation

Alan Knox has made my summary of E. D. Hirsch’s Validity in Interpretation available on his website, ̔Ελληνιστί, in HTML format.

A PDF version of this summary is also available here.

Update (19 June 2017): The above-noted link to Alan Knox’s website is currently broken. Please see the summary at the PDF link mentioned above.


In this post:

E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
E. D. Hirsch, Jr.