Thursday, August 29, 2013

Figuring Out the Right Task in Reading Biblical Narrative

Sailhamer here makes an interesting point about the difference between the task of the reader and the task that the biblical authors have already accomplished for us.

Rather than piece together the history of Israel ourselves, for instance, our task is to understand the way they have already woven that story together.

In sum, behind texts stand authors who have rendered their interpretations in texts, inspired texts in the case of the Bible. This simple fact makes a text-oriented approach to exegesis and biblical theology crucial for the evangelical. Our task is not to explain what happened to Israel in OT times. Though worthy of our efforts, archaeology and history must not be confused with exegesis and biblical theology.

We must recognize that the authors of Scripture have already made it their task to tell us in their texts what happened to Israel. The task that remains for us is to explain and proclaim what they have written. The goal of a text-oriented approach is not revelation in history in the sense of an event that must be given meaning. Rather, the goal is a revelation in the history as it is recounted in the text of Scripture.
—John Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative, 22.

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