‘Interpreting Homer From Homer’ Aristarchus Of Samothrace And The Notion Of Scriptural Authorship In The New Testament -- By: Benjamin Sargent

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 65:1 (NA 2014)
Article: ‘Interpreting Homer From Homer’ Aristarchus Of Samothrace And The Notion Of Scriptural Authorship In The New Testament
Author: Benjamin Sargent


‘Interpreting Homer From Homer’
Aristarchus Of Samothrace And The Notion Of Scriptural Authorship In The New Testament

Benjamin Sargent

Summary

This study attempts to explore certain exegetical arguments within the New Testament that operate upon the basis of an assumption that a scriptural text’s meaning is in some way contingent upon its author. The exegetical and text-critical Homeric scholarship of Aristarchus of Samothrace is examined as a possible parallel to this assumption of authorial contingency. Aristarchus makes exegetical and text-critical decisions about the Iliad by means of a conception of Homer as the perfect writer. Whilst it is unlikely that any New Testament writer was aware of Aristarchus’ work, Aristarchus undoubtedly represents more widespread Greek thought about authorship and meaning that may have been shared by certain New Testament writers.

1. Introduction

An often overlooked aspect of the interpretation of Scripture in the New Testament is the exegetical use of ideas about scriptural authorship. The author of Hebrews claims that the phrase κατάπαυσίν μου (‘my rest’) in Ps. 95:11(LXX Ps. 94:11) refers to an eschatological rest, rather than a temporal Promised Land, because it is spoken or written by David who already resided in such a temporal Promised Land (Heb. 4:6-10). Peter and Paul both present Ps. 16 as a prophetic utterance because they assume that it is spoken or written by David whom they present as a prophet (Acts 2:29-36 and 13:35-37). In what is often known as the Davidssohnfrage (Mark 12:35-37; Matt. 22:41-46; Luke 20:41-44), Jesus is seen to interpret Ps. 110:1 (LXX Ps. 109:1) from the assumption that it was spoken or written by David: ‘if

David calls him Lord, how can [the Christ] be his son?’1 In each of these interpretations of Scripture there is an assumption that the Davidic origin of the lemma is decisive in its interpretation.

To interpret Scripture by means of explicit assumptions about authorship is certainly unusual in the New Testame...

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