Righteousness And Peace Kiss: The Reconciliation Of Authorial Intent And Biblical Typology -- By: Robert L. Plummer

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 14:2 (Summer 2010)
Article: Righteousness And Peace Kiss: The Reconciliation Of Authorial Intent And Biblical Typology
Author: Robert L. Plummer

Righteousness And Peace Kiss: The Reconciliation Of Authorial Intent And Biblical Typology1

Robert L. Plummer

While I was working on this article in my office, I received an urgent call from my wife and three young daughters. They were at the Louisville Zoo, and they had an important question: What is the plural form of “rhinoceros?” Of course, as a professional theologian, I am skilled in the art of appearing competent while at the same time sidestepping difficult questions. I suggested the obvious: “rhinos.” But, the question remains. To persons familiar with the English language, there are two likely answers: rhinoceroses and rhinoceri. If I were to take a poll of the readers of this essay, opinions would be divided. A quick look at the Merriam-Webster online dictionary confirms that both spellings are, in fact, permissible.

This short anecdote illustrates my objectives in this paper. As we approach some difficult Old Testament quotations in the New Testament, we can ask, “Is the use of this Old Testament text by a New Testament author best explained by author-oriented hermeneutics?” Many will answer yes. We can ask of the same text then, “Is this text best explained by typological interpretation?” And others will answer, “Yes, typology, is the best approach.”

I am proposing that maybe we can answer yes to both of those questions and end up being more faithful interpreters in the process.


Listen to good evangelical sermons, and you will hear statements such as, “The Bible says,” or “The Apostle Paul tells us here,” or “The inspired Scripture reads.” Similarly, in less colloquial fashion, most evangelical commentaries and hermeneutics texts seek to root the meaning of Scripture in the conscious intent of the inspired human author.2 In other words, we must know what a text meant to its original author before we can know

what a text means for us today. The conscious intent of the divinely-inspired human author is the channel of meaning in which all other implications and applications must flow.

Most of us would affirm this statement, I imagine, but then an evangelical hermeneutical schizophrenia often develops. What do we do about those Old Testament texts which are quoted in the New Testament in such a way that they seem to go beyond and in some cases completely ignore the meaning of the Old Testament authors? One approach is to hold doggedly that the Old Testament prophets were in fact conscious of all Messianic sense that the New Testament ascribes to ...

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