Monday, February 8, 2010

Lutheran Study Bible - a consideration of the history involved

I am looking at The Lutheran Study Bible (C) published by Concordia and the Lutheran Study Bible (A) published by Augsburg. I am learning that there are different approaches to the Scriptures in these two volumes and I need to do some work on the history involved.

The history is the history of exegesis. Exegesis is the "act of explaining a text." The rules governing this exegesis is the science of hermeneutics. This is heady stuff with some pretty big words and concepts that go far beyond the scope of the typical pew-occupier like myself.

Still, as is commonly said, history matters. I do not have the time nor the resources to do a comprehensive study of these questions. I do need to know something about the subject and I rely on my copy of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church which I bought for a few bucks at the Half-Price Book Store in St. Louis Park MN a few years ago. I would rather do my investigation with a source that is not associated with either the (C) or the (A).

I recognize that I run the risk of being superficial. I guess that I can't help that.

At the Reformation the Protestants "rejected the authority of the Church's as a criterion for exegesis, substituting the interior witness of the Holy Spirit." Protestants did keep the traditional passages pertaining to Christ's work (Christology) and the Trinity. Protestants regarded the Bible as "the supreme norm of doctrine." Accordingly, "Biblical study was accorded a position of high value."

From Protestantism came literary and biblical criticism which tended to undermine the traditional doctrine of inspiration. Eighteenth century Germans "were among the earliest biblical critics."

"From the beginning of the 19th century much attention was given to the origin, nature, and history of the individual biblical documents and to reconstructions of biblical history, including the life of Jesus. "

Here follows a nice German term: Religionsgeschichtliche Schule. This school "claimed freedom from the guidance of theology in presenting a descriptive explanation of the texts in their own historical context."

The essay in the ODCC continues. "The prestige of descriptive biblical exegesis created many problems for a doctrinal theology built upon the older theory of inspiration."

Well, so much for today. I am stopping short of a description of a famous German theologian Rudolf Bultmann who said that "demythologization precipitated a renewed interest in hermeneutics." I don't know what that means.

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