Realistic or Historical Narrative? The Question of Historicity in the Context of Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation -- By: Rodney J. Decker

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 04:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: Realistic or Historical Narrative? The Question of Historicity in the Context of Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation
Author: Rodney J. Decker


Realistic or Historical Narrative?
The Question of Historicity in the Context of Literary
Approaches to Biblical Interpretation

Rodney J. Decker

Associate Professor Of New Testament
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Introduction

There are an enormous number of questions that clamor for attention in regard to interpreting Scripture. Life was once relatively simple in the land of hermeneutics. We determined the most accurate text based on our best knowledge of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, mastered the statements in those languages (and perhaps translated them into another language), applied a quantifiable number of hermeneutical principles or rules to the statements of the text, and drew conclusions as to the meaning of the text.

But “Hermeneutica” is now a highly developed, crowded suburb, and there are many new voices crying for attention and demanding their share of the subdivision of meaning. Many are demanding that the town be renamed; “Hermeneutica” is blasé, for now we must do “biblical criticism.” And so “Criticalia” is the politically correct name proposed for the bustling suburb. There are also many new street names proposed: Literary Lane, Source Street, Aesthetic Avenue, Form Freeway, Rhetorical Road, Redaction Ridge, Structural Street, Narrative Boulevard, Canonical Court, Discourse Drive, and Deconstruction Alley. Some of these designations are new names for existing streets. Others describe the freeways that are being constructed (often right through the middle of some of the nicer homes in the area!) in an attempt to facilitate the transportation of meaning from the Textile factories to the homes of the residents. Many new offices are opening in Criticalia—quite a few of which are designed to cope with the existential angst of hu-

man existence in such a pressured society. There are now D.S.P.’s (Doctors of Psychological Criticism) and L.S.C.W.’s (Licensed Sociological Criticism Workers), as well as numerous day care centers to handle the domestic needs of those too busy doing feminist criticism to care for their own children.

But enough allegorizing. What has happened in biblical studies in recent centuries? Why the proliferation of disciplines necessary to understand the Bible? Numerous books have been written to answer such questions. This brief paper will not attempt to resolve the larger issues, but will content itself with considering one narrow topic in this churning hermeneutical milieu. Specifically, what are some of the implications of a literary or narrative approach to biblical interpretation—”the most radical challenge to traditional hermene...

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