Biblical Scholarship Today

I raised the issue of doing typological interpretation in our time in my last post, and let me reiterate that I have no problem with typology as a method of interpretation employed by the early Church. Moreover, I find typology meaningful in the liturgies at Christmas and Easter. What I have a problem with is attempting to do typological interpretation today. I acknowledge that typological interpretation is found in the New Testament, but does that make it what we should be doing today? It may have been good enough for Paul, but does that mean it must be good enough for me? Would Paul be doing typological interpretation if he were living today? Once I "discover" that putting garments on the ground before Jehu bears a similarity to the people putting garments on the ground before Jesus on Palm Sunday, must I conclude that Jehu is a type of Christ? Is that all it takes? Is the brutality of Jehu simply to be disregarded or do I also apply that to Christ in some clever fashion? But even if I accept that this one sentence correspondence between the Old Testament and the New makes Jehu a type of Christ, then what have I learned? Does it draw me into a deeper understanding of who God is and what God is about? Does it inspire me to become a more loving human being? Is my only task as a biblical theologian to find clever connectives between the Old Testament and the New Testament? If such is the case, one would think 2000 years ought to have been more than enough time to find every possible connection between the Testaments. Can we move onto something else now? Must I understand the Old Testament as the place where God spent his time inspiring its human authors to put in clever little things that I will only understand once I have faith in Christ? What kind of a God does that? What kind of a God has the time to do that? The early Christians read the Old Testament through the lens of the Jesus event. I have no problem with that. We all read the text through some lens. Some today try to understand the biblical text from within its historical context (Historical Critical Method) or from within its literary context (New Literary Criticism; Rhetorical Criticism). Others interpret the biblical text privileging the position of the poor (Liberation criticism); others focus on gender issues (Feminist criticism). These methods and others are different and valid ways to approach the biblical text. What I object to is the notion that reading typologically, or any approach in search of the spiritual sense of the text, IS the theological reading of the text and what contemporary biblical scholars do is not theological. I find what contemporary biblical scholars are doing to be profoundly theological. Maybe the problem is that some just don’t like the theological insights that we have gained from contemporary biblical interpretation and want to return to those "good old days" of the early Church Fathers ignoring entirely that not only has the world changed, but also that "the good old days" weren’t all that good. Pauline Viviano
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10 years 8 months ago
This is a perspecive very similar to that espoused by the currently self- destructing Episcopal Church in the USA. Their approach is to "re-enculturate" Holy Scripture in order to reflect the cultural mores (usually the "politically correct") that currently drive western cultures. Of course, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to this effort: "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
10 years 8 months ago
A great blog guys/gals. Good to see this joint contribution and spotlight on Catholic theology and biblical studies. I look forward to many of these posts. S.

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