Interpretation v Application

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    Have always held to the position that there is only one correct interpretation of a text, but there may be many different applications.

    Agree or no?
     
  2. Major B

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    Absolutely. To quote my hermeneutics prof, "If the passage means more than one thing, it means nothing."

    Applications, however, can and do vary.
     
  3. Aki

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    ...some are not even applicable at our time [​IMG]
     
  4. Artimaeus

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    One interpretation, yes. We should take care on the applications. Sure, there could be more than one (and frequently are) but, "many" implies a freedom to apply at will. More than one application, OK, but, "many"...I am not so sure about. Wisdom, common sense, and experience play a very great role in the idea of "How does this passage affect MY life?"

    Of course, if you don't use applications then you pretty much can't do much af anything. [​IMG]
     
  5. All about Grace

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    One interpretation -- many applications

    This thesis might be a little difficult to defend in books such as John where it is obvious the author is writing at different levels of interpretation.
     
  6. npetreley

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    I disagree. There can be multiple harmonious interpretations (double- meanings, for example). Of course, you can say that the multiple meanings are part of a single interpretation, but then it's getting close to a semantics game.
     
  7. Baptist Believer

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    Certainly...

    Think of the gospel of John where Judas betrayed Jesus.

    John 13:30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

    John is doing a play on words here... It is literally night and darkness has also fallen because Judas has left Jesus to betray Him.


    I'm surprise no one has mentioned the most obvious example: Isaiah 7:14

    There was a fulfillment in the historical context (birth of one who was not the Messiah) and then there was a fulfillment in the spiritual/prophetic context (the birth of the Messiah, Jesus).
     
  8. chargrove

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    Baptist Believer NAILS it square on yet again. [​IMG] Couldn't have said it better myself and you couldn't have said it better at all.
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    This is exactly the kind of thing that is wrong with multiple meanings. People start looking for all kinds of things and it makes little or no sense. There is absolutely no textual basis to imagine that this is what John meant. John meant for his readers to understand that it was nighttime.

    When you start down this path, the only guide of truth is the limits of the imagination. And if I say that by "night," John really meant that Judas was getting on a horse, you cannot disagree with me on any basis other than your own mind. That is a serious problem. You say that my interpretation is far fetched. But I say yours is far fetched. The bottom line is that the text is the only thing that will settle it but you have added to the meaning of text and if you do it, why can't I? What standard are you going to use to disagree??

    Having written my master's thesis on this passage, I would strongly disagree for both historical and textual reasons. There was only one meaning and it was Jesus Christ. There was no near fulfillment. The near referent was a time marker.
     
  10. aefting

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    </font>[/QUOTE]Right! For example, how could 'almah mean a literal virgin and a non-virgin at the same time?

    Andy
     
  11. Johnv

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    I agree. There are countless ways to apply specific scripture in life.

    I also agree that there is only one interpretation. However, we often cannot know for certain that a specific interpretation is correct (views on the tribulation are a good example). Therefore, we most allow for differences in interpretation.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    This is exactly the kind of thing that is wrong with multiple meanings. People start looking for all kinds of things and it makes little or no sense. There is absolutely no textual basis to imagine that this is what John meant. John meant for his readers to understand that it was nighttime. </font>[/QUOTE]Certainly he meant his readers to understand it was nighttime. He also was probably using a play on words to illustrate the mood and the story. (Remember, this gospel started out with images of light and darkness – see John 1 for a refresher.)

    Ah yes, the fallacious “slippery slope” theory that assumes that the other person or persons has absolutely no rational powers, no common sense, no additional knowledge, no understanding of God, no living faith, no Holy Spirit’s guidance, and no respect for anyone else’s opinion so that they seek to embrace the exact antithesis of what is good, pure and correct (i.e., the view being defended by this dismissive argument).

    Sure I can. The example you just gave does not fit the context. John’s gospel has a motif of light and darkness (among others) that was established in the very first chapter. Not only that, John was, in a technical sense, a very good writer and used words carefully to illustrate his story. (I am a writer by trade, so I automatically notice these things.) If we are going to interpret the scripture, we should not be afraid to understand that God’s written word is in the form of literature and that non-fiction literature has motifs and stylistic elements that contribute meaning and flavor to the text. A good reader knows to look for such elements and will recognize them because they are harmonious to the meaning and focus of the text.

    The text itself as explained above.

    I’m afraid that many “conservative” people read the biblical materials as if they are a book of systematic theology or something to be dissected. That’s the influence of modernism upon biblical theology and should be reexamined (and rejected in my opinion).

    Certainly there is strong and powerful theology in the stories and forms of scripture, but this wooden literalism and reductionism corrupts the meaning of the texts and does not recognize that the written work of God is a thing of beauty – created in a partnership between God and the living faith of His people through the ages.

    Having written my master's thesis on this passage, I would strongly disagree for both historical and textual reasons. There was only one meaning and it was Jesus Christ. There was no near fulfillment. The near referent was a time marker. [/QB][/QUOTE]

    Since you’ve examined the text and have somehow managed to explain away the obvious meaning and literal fulfillment of the child who was born in Isaiah’s day in order to give Ahaz a sign (if it is Christ, then Ahaz had to wait until hundreds of years after he died to get the sign to comfort him :eek: ), I am not going to bother getting into this discussion. (And yes, I do accept the virgin birth of Jesus and I also believe what is said in Matthew 1 that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Christ.)

    Just remember that some of us went to seminary too and have also carefully worked through the many of these same issues.

    If I’m coming across as condescending, that is not my intent. I just don’t think it is profitable to start a discussion if you are so entrenched in your views.

    God bless. :D
     
  13. Baptist Believer

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    There are possibilities:

    The word ‘almah does literally mean young woman and the context carried the meaning of whether or not the young woman had sexual relations. Many interpreters understand Isaiah to literally be referencing a young woman who was married (not a virgin) who would have a child. The reference in Matthew was to the fullest expression of fulfillment of Immanuel (“God with us”) embodied in Christ. (The writers of the biblical texts in the first century often interpreted texts quite differently than most of us were taught to do it in seminary. The writer of Hebrews would have flunked out of most “biblical interpretation” classes I’ve taken because of his tendency to see types of Christ throughout the Old Testament and being reckless enough to make references to the Old Testament such as “Somewhere it's written, ‘God rested the seventh day, having completed his work…’” (Hebrews 4:4 – he’s referencing Genesis 2:2, but apparently doesn’t remember the location of the reference! :D )

    Others (and I lean strongly this way) believe that the young woman was a virgin at the time Isaiah made this prophecy and was then married, conceived in the usual way, and then had a child who was the sign to Ahaz.
     
  14. All about Grace

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    I have to agree with BB on this issue (though we often disagree on other matters). John's Gospel is filled with double interpretations. It is obvious even in the stories themselves. Why should we assume that when John wrote "it was night" that he was ONLY speaking of the condition of the sky and not the condition of humanity's heart as well. As BB points out, the light-dark motif is so obvious in the gospel that the evidence for a spiritual darkness interpretation (as well) seems weighty.

    In the process of defending divine authorship, we do not have to overcompensate in the single interpretation category (as Kaiser does).
     
  15. TomVols

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    But on some levels, isn't this really a difference of application?
     
  16. TomVols

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    A text cannot mean what it never meant. Where does this fit in the equation?
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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  18. Pastor Larry

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    Excpet the text describes a pregnant virgin ... i.e., both states existed at the same time. Therefore, this view will not suffice.
     
  19. aefting

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    I know that a lot of good men believe in the double fulfillment idea concerning prophecy – that there had to be a near-term fulfillment to authenticate the prophet’s message -- so I don’t want to make too big of a deal about this. I also know that my position of a single fulfillment on Isaiah 7:14 has its share of difficulties. However, what I said about ‘almah was the real clincher for me. And since this is a discussion forum, here’s my view in highly condensed form:

    To begin with, there are two types of signs in the Bible, those that function as an immediate confirmation or God’s message or messenger (a “present persuader,” cf., Jug. 6:16-21; Ex. 4:1-17) and those that function as a future confirmation (a “after the fact verification,” cf., 1 Sam. 10:1-3; Ex. 3:10-12; Isaiah 8:18). Ahaz rejected God’s offer for a “present persuader” sign, so God gave a future confirmation sign (Virgin Birth) instead. This sign (Is. 7:14-16), though, does have both a long-term and short-term application. The long-term application refers solely to the virgin birth of Christ while the short-term application refers to the time when the current threat would pass away – about 2-3 years (the vision appears in the present tense to Isaiah, cf., Isa. 9:6). The first part of the sign (7:14) refers to the long-term application; the second part of the sign (7:15-16) refers to the short-term application. Don’t confuse this double application with the idea of double fulfillment.

    My understanding of ‘almah, especially as confirmed by Matthew 1:23, precludes taking ‘almah as anything other than a young virgin girl. Consequently, I believe Ahaz and the House of Israel should have understood Isaiah to be referring to a miraculous event. Isaiah could not have been referring to the birth of Maher-shal-ah-hash-baz because his wife was not a virgin (Is. 7:3). Isaiah could not have been referring to the birth of Hezekiah because, if you do the math, Hezekiah was at least 9 years old at the time. In short, as I said before, Isaiah could not be referring to any natural birth in his day because he was describing a supernatural birth. No other virgin other than Mary ever did conceive.


    Andy
     
  20. All about Grace

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    Without getting into the fallacies of the single intent hermeneutic (which is a minority view in the evangelical scholarly world), one might argue that the author is also free to utilize words that have dual meanings. In John's case, it seems obvious he employed different levels of meaning (the light-darkness motif being just one example).

    Do you believe Psalm 22 has only one interpretation? If so, what is it? How about Psalm 16? Should we assume the rock in the OT account is to only be interpreted as Jesus Christ with no OT interpretation in and of itself?

    The NT authors obviously employed a hermeneutic different from the one you propose.
     

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