The Single Intent of Scripture— Critical Examination of a Theological Construct -- By: Raju D. Kunjummen

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 07:1 (Spring 1986)
Article: The Single Intent of Scripture— Critical Examination of a Theological Construct
Author: Raju D. Kunjummen


The Single Intent of Scripture—
Critical Examination of a Theological Construct

Raju D. Kunjummen

Evangelicals currently debate whether the Bible always has asingle intent or if there is sometimes afuller meaning (sensus plenior) due to divine inspiration. The literary theory of E. D. Hirsch indicates that meaning is to be associated with authorial intent. Examination of key passages of Scripture indicates that the authorial intent of the divine author sometimes contains implications that extend beyond those intended by the human author.

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Introduction

The issue of hermeneutical theory in relation to biblical interpretation is prominent today. By all indications, hermeneutics will continue to be in the forefront of evangelical concerns. Therefore, there is an ongoing need to examine the validity of various theories in this discipline.

Hermeneutics is not a discipline isolated from theology, though it may be true that biblical and exegetical theology has relied to some extent on a hermeneutical theory derived from the humanism of the Renaissance. It has been pointed out that the “problem of hermeneutics is always subordinate to the problem of revelation, for one’s view of the Bible will determine his interpretation.”1 It is imperative that interpretive theory be tested by Scripture. The present study proposes to examine the hermeneutical principle of a “single intent of Scripture.”

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., the foremost proponent of this principle in contemporary evangelicalism, has affirmed the following:

God’s meaning and revelatory-intention in any passage of Scripture may be accurately and confidently ascertained only by studying the verbal meanings of the divinely delegated and inspired human writers.2

No definition of interpretation could be more fundamental than this: To interpret we must in every case reproduce the sense the Scriptural writer intended for his own words. The first step in the interpretive process is to link only those ideas with the author’s language that he connected with them.3

Only the doctrine and the theology prior to the time of the writer’s composition of his revelation (which theology we propose to call here the “Analogy of Scripture”) may be legitimately used in the task of theological exegesis, in other words, where the writer directly cites or obviously alludes to the theology that preceded his writing and formed a backdrop against whic...

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