Sparks-what to do with tradition


Kenton Sparks, in his God’s Word in Human Words, gives us a condensed history of interpretation, that is, the movement in the western Christian world from premodern to postmodern understandings of how to interpret texts.

In the premodern world the interpreter had to be humble and submit to authority and tradition. As regards the Bible, this meant a firm belief that its author was God and that human interpreters needed to accept the mystery of God and the gap between his great understanding and our little understanding. One of the features of this kind of interpretation was the use of allegory. This ignored the intention of the human author who did not matter much, since God was the real author of scripture.

If a passage was incongruous with a churchly and traditional understanding of morals, the allegory helped people understand what must have been God’s real intention.

An amusing example…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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