The Gospel As The Revelation Of Mystery: The Witness Of The Scriptures To Christ In Romans -- By: Mark A. Seifrid
SBJT 11:3 (Fall 2007) p. 92
The Gospel As The Revelation Of Mystery: The Witness Of The Scriptures To Christ In Romans
Mark A. Seifrid is Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as Visiting Lecturer at Wheaton College and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Along with several dozen articles, Dr. Seifrid is the author of Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme (Brill, 1992) and Christ Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification (InterVaristy, 2001). In addition, he has also co-edited (with D. A. Carson and Peter T. O’Brien) the two-volume Justification And Variegated Nomism (Baker, 2001, 2004), and (with Randall Tan) the bibliographic work The Pauline Writings (Baker, 2002).
Paul’s Gospel Hermeneutic
Paul does not interpret the Scriptures by a mere formal hermeneutic. Neither in Romans nor elsewhere does he provide us a method that once learned and acquired might serve us as a key to unlock the texts of the Old Testament. Nor can we read one indirectly off his use of Scripture. The knowledge of Scripture for the apostle is something more than learning the rules of a game, even if he would agree that the rules of grammar, style, rhetoric and logic have their legitimate place in interpretation. There is a certain usefulness to the analysis of Paul’s techniques of citation and allusion, the examination of the patterns of his interpretation of texts, comparison of his interpretation with roughly contemporary rabbinic midrash or Qumran pesher, and the categorization of his apparent interpretive moves.
But we impoverish ourselves if we imagine that by describing Paul’s use of the Scriptures we have come to understand it. As a reading of Romans shows, Paul’s hermeneutic is essentially and profoundly material in nature, bound up with the incarnation, cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 It is not the sort of hermeneutic which yields its results to the intellectual skill of the interpreter who opens the text, investigates it, and then applies it. It is, rather, the text that exegetes the interpreter. It does not do so without the engagement of our faculties, knowledge, and skill. Nevertheless, before and beyond our own ability to interpret it, the Scripture acts upon us and calls us to account. We necessarily bring to the text our own identity, a self-judgment that the Scriptures address whenever we encounter them. God speaks to us there in such a way that we are both undone and made new, exposed for what we are and yet marvelously forgiven and set free from ourselves.
As Paul’s letter to the Romans makes clear, he was no excep...
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