Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 145:580 (Oct 88) p. 452
“Issues in Biblical Interpretation,” David M. Scholer, Evangelical Quarterly 60 (1988): 5-22.
The interpretation of Scripture undoubtedly remains a fertile ground for either unity or dissention in the church. In the interests of encouraging unity, David Scholer, dean of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, identifies four areas that are “crucial and fundamental to the [hermeneutical] discussion today.”
The first area concerns the role of the text itself in the process of interpretation. Interacting with the ideas of Hirsch and Caird, Scholer discusses the issue of the meaning of a text. He concludes that the text is the primary locus of meaning in the interpretive process and that meaning is a combination of referent, sense, and intention. He also calls it the “original or plain sense” of the text in its particular historical-cultural setting. The best approach to this meaning is historical-contextual or historical-cultural exegesis. Scholer understands this to be equivalent to the historical-critical method but without the excesses of that method that have been noted by others.
The second area focuses on the interpreter. Here Scholer addresses not only the myth of pure objectivity but also the fact of historically shaped traditions of interpretation. Whereas the primary locus of meaning is in the text, the experience or practice of that meaning is found in the interpreter or in a particular community or tradition. The interplay of text and interpreter in the question of meaning “is a hermeneutical reality and predicament from which there is no escape.” Scholer proceeds however to give several suggestions to guard against excessive hermeneutical subjectivity but warns that there are no absolute controls here. While much of what Scholer has to say about the role of the interpreter is widely recognized in evangelical biblical scholarship, he tends to stress the subjective element too strongly. One must recognize not only the possibility but even the expectation of degrees of scholarly consensus on a number of exegetical issues.
The third area has to do with unity and diversity in Scripture. Scholer chides conservatives for reluctance in recognizing biblical diversity. Relying
BSac 145:580 (Oct 88) p. 453
on the work of Dunn as having established the point of diversity, he turns to consider how unity is to be comprehended. While on the one hand Scholer warns against easy harmonizations and claims that unity is only manifested as the whole of the collected diversity, much like a patchwork quilt, he nevertheless proceeds to suggest as unity a center or starting point that is quite traditional: Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, and the new Testamen...
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