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"Allegorical" and "Spiritual" Hermeneutics

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Dec 14, 2017.

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  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    There appears to be great confusion about hermeneutics on the BB, especially among preterists, and amil advocates. Hopefully this thread can clear up some things about hermeneutics--but I'm not holding my breath. Caveat: I'm going to have to simplify some things. There is no way a BB thread can even begin to deal adequately with this subject. So my goal is mainly to inform about the OP.

    For the record, my method is grammatical-historical, and I think much of modern linguistics helps that method. In particular, advances in semantics (the study of meaning) help Biblical exegesis. Great sources on this are Mouses Silva (Biblical Words and Their Meaning) and David Alan Black (Linguistics for Students of NT Greek).

    First of all, all scholars agree that the basic method of interpretation of the early church was grammatical-historical. Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard (Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 1993, p. 30) speak of literal-contextual interpretation as an apostolic method.

    The first genuine school of hermeneutics developed in Antioch of Syria. When Origen and his allegorical method came along, "The Syrian school fought Origen in particular as the inventor of the allegorical method, and maintained the primacy of the iteral and historical interpretation of the Scripture" (Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical interpretation, p. 49). "The literal method of interpreting the Bible is to accept as basic the literal rendering of the sentences unless by virtue of the nature of the sentence or phrase or clause within the sentence this is not possible" (ibid, 45).

    Ah, yes, Origen (185-254). There were other allegorists (Clement of Alexandria, for one), but he took the Jewish method of Philo and applied it to the NT, popularizing it in the process. Origen taught different levels of interpretation: the literal (the least important), only for laymen. He taught that the spiritual interpretation was the true interpretation, something foreign to the grammatical-historical method, and something that allows every interpreter to interpret differently.

    So, for you preterists on the BB: "Spiritual" and "allegorical" are synonyms for the same method. When you interpret other than literally you are interpreting "spiritually" or "allegorically." Thus you are not interpreting according to natural, God given (cf universal grammar), normal hermeneutics. You are using a method that can mean anything--thus the very wide variety of preterist positions. Simply admit that you do not interpret prophecy literally (however you may interpret the Sermon on the Mount and other important Scripture), and go on from there.
     
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  2. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician Well-Known Member
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    Hey JoJ,

    How are you? Well I hope. I completely agree with your assertions above. And I think all who have any level of formal education in linguistics and church history as you and I do would agree. But then again when I make this assertion, some are going to think I am playing at being high brow and bragging on another of my own ilk such as you.

    I know these assertions to be true, because all who have ever had an intermediate course in Koine Greek, Hebrew Bible, or cognate language knows all you have said to be true. And I am not sure, but I think, since you have had to learn Japanese, that they are more true there than other places (??).

    Now to my point concerning the quote of your beloved grandfather in your signature: Just because John R. sold a lot of books may mean there were a lot of "idiots" buying them! LOL!!!

    You know me and my background. I must say that this comment is made in love. I was influenced by John R., and this was meant "tongue 'n cheek." No offense intended.

    By the by, did you and yours stay home, or did you go back to Japan?

    Keep in touch.

    rd
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Hi, Rhet. Nice to hear from you. I appreciate the endorsement of my post by a bonafide, published historian.

    Concerning Japanese, when I've done secular translation work, I must translate literally (depending on the goals of the translation). Why? Because the client wants the reader to understand the original document.
    Very true! As you know, many within the SBC were strongly influenced by him.

    I'm still working on my book about him, and in August made a research trip to Southwestern BTS, where the John R. Rice Papers are. I was privileged to fellowship some and then have lunch with Dr. & Mrs. Paige Patterson. He told me that everywhere he went back in the day, The Sword of the Lord was on the desks of pastors, so he gave credit to JRR for planting the seeds of the conservative resurgence.
    Certainly no offense taken, friend.

    We came back to the US in 2014 after 33 years in Japan, and now I teach at a small Baptist college in Wisconsin with my son, who got his PhD under David Alan Black at Southeastern. Having a great time!
     
  4. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician Well-Known Member
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    John,

    How is the book on John R. coming? I would like to have a part in it. Maybe even a credit? If I can be of help maybe as an editor or reader I would think that a great opportunity. Whatdoyasay?

    rd
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for your interest. I have the rough draft of 11 chapters done, with at least four to go. My next task is to go through the documents I scanned and photographed at Southeastern. I found a lot of good material.

    I do thank you for the offer to have a part in it, and I will certainly remember that. You would certainly be a help as a reader, being an historian, and maybe as an editor, depending on the publisher.
     
  6. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    I am going to read with great interest the presentations in this thread.

    Perhaps they will refresh something long ago neglected and forgotten.

    Imo, typology is not well understood as different from allegory by the typical pew sitter.

    So, John, please keep it simple for us. :)

    There is no doubt that I have become sloppy, and look forward to being mopped up in this thread.

    I so do miss the rigors of academia.

    So now, off you go, and don't delay.

    Do it "soon" like in the next five minutes - oh, that should be do it "soon" as in giving the tempo without hindrance such as a fermata.
     
  7. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    Did you listen to the recordings on line of the daughter's reflections?
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Not sure where to find that. Maybe on my brother's website? Help me out with the URL. I know he had my Mom's recollections there at one time.
     
  9. David Kent

    David Kent Well-Known Member
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    Firstly can you enlighten us poor uneducated souls as the what you mean by gramatical historical?
     
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  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Ah, yes, typology. That is using an OT historical event or person to prefigure something in the NT. The Greek word is tupos, which has a variety of meanings such as "form" (Rom. 6:27) or "figure" (Acts 7:43), but most often means "example." So, an OT event can be an example of a NT truth, as in Gal. 4.

    1 Cor. 10:11--"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (Greek tupos): and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

    Christ himself used types, such as in Matt. 12: "39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

    So, a type is not allegorical interpretation as taught by Origen and used by preterists, but might be described as a sermon illustration.
     
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  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    This is the technical term for what you might call literal; "literal" doesn't truly describe it, though. It is interpreting according to the grammar and semantics of the original languages, taking into account the historical circumstances, location, and society in which the NT document is written. It is taking the normal linguistic meaning as the correct meaning.
     
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  12. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    I posted about this in a thread yesterday in the Fundamentalist Baptist section:
     
  13. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    For the sake of the discussion and in defense of the "spiritual" and/or "allegorical" hermeneutics, take the following case;

    John 2
    18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
    19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
    20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
    21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
    22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

    Here Jesus speaks metaphorically of the temple of His body which was not realized until AFTER his glorious resurrection.
    Also Jesus spoke of Himself in many metaphors i.e. light, door water, etc...

    So how do we know for sure that Revelation Chapter 20 speaks of a literal 1000 years?

    Thanks


    HankD
     
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  14. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    Hank, are you sure you are not conflating metaphorical and allegorical?
     
  15. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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  16. David Kent

    David Kent Well-Known Member
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    Oh I see. I think.
     
  17. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    No, I'm not confused because that is exactly the answer I was looking for :)

    HankD
     
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  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Thank you! Haven't seen my aunts for awhile.
     
  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The family is at our favorite coffee shop right now, just chilling and surfing and doing email. My son just read that Daniel Wallace on his blog says that it was Bruce Metzger who said, "As literal as possible, as free as necessary." The story is that they were working on the RSV at the time.

    Now, as a Bible translator, that's pretty much what I do. So, if we translate that way, why do people then interpret the translation--wait for it--allegorically and not literally!? You see, language is designed by God to communicate literally. Any communication theory in linguistics is going to acknowledge this: code theory, relevance theory, whatever. Therefore God Himself communicated literally with us when He gave us the Bible.

    When your wife asks you to take out the garbage, do you interpret allegorically? "Honey, I perceive that you wish me to stop my bad habit of leaving my dishes on the table and making you always clear the table. This is an allegory for my sin, is it not?"
     
    #20 John of Japan, Dec 14, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
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