Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 27:1 (Nov 1964)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous


Reviews Of Books

A. Berkeley Mickelsen: Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1963. xiv, 425. $5.95.

This is a comprehensive study in the field of biblical hermeneutics, so varied in its contents and showing such wide reading that it could well be considered the product of a life’s work.

Professor Mickelsen accepts the Bible as the living and abiding Word of the living and abiding God. But not all who have entertained this view of Scripture have brought to the Scripture the hermeneutics which this estimate requires and which sober study will dictate. Mickelsen devotes much space to the correction of these aberrations. Perhaps the outstanding impression left upon the reader of this volume is the sobriety and sanity of the author’s hermeneutics. To sum this up it can be said that he stands in the best tradition of grammatical historical exegesis. Of the allegorical method, for example, he says: “In the allegorical method a text is interpreted apart from its grammatical historical meaning. What the original writer is trying to say is ignored. What the interpreter wants to say becomes the only important factor” (p. 28). And, respecting the fourfold sense — literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical —, he adds: “Unfortunately, however, this pursuit of multiple meanings is really a magical approach to language” (p. 36).

Mickelsen properly guards against a cold, mechanical abuse of grammatical historical exegesis. Exposition must be joined to exegesis. “The interpreter is not a spectator …. The purpose of exegesis and exposition is to communicate the meaning of an earlier statement to those living at the same time as the interpreter …. It is the aim of every faithful interpreter to be involved in what he communicates without expanding or contracting the biblical ideas which he is communicating” (p. 57).

As we would expect, the author gives attention to the existentialist hermeneutic so much in the forefront at the present time. With reference to the “closed continuum” by which “history is limited to cause and effect relationships in a time-space framework” he says: “There is no neutral ground in this controversy” (p. 8). The existential emphasis, exemplified in Bultmann, “ignores the fact that the one who meets me now has had a specific past history which determines all that he is and can do for me now …. The basic convictions of the New Testament writers themselves are ignored even while such interpreters are trying to show the meaning of

what the New Testament writers are saying. Such a procedure can bring only distortion” (p. 64; cf. pp. 68–73).

Likewise, in oppositio...

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