Genesis Through Joshua- Introduction: Focus in Old Testament Interpretation

There tend to be two extremes among Christians-

Popular Concerns:

Laypeople want to know what God is saying to them through a passage. They need to see the relevance and message of text to the people

Academic Concerns:

The opposite of popular concerns: They want to know about the meaning in the context of the time to the origin readers.

We need to know what the text is saying within the context and what the text says to our context.

The Text’s Full Value
Three stages are used to obtain the text’s full value:

1) Original Meaning
We have to be concerned with the original meaning of a text; that which is closet to the text itself.
We need to uncover and discover the original meaning.
What was the human writers intention as he gave a passage to the original audience?
What did Moses want the readers of Exodus to understand?
Our first priority is not the meaning of us today but the audience back then.

Example: Genesis 1
We search for contemporary meaning addressing the tension between Evolution and Creationism as soon as we read Genesis 1. But what did Moses want to communicate?
It was written to give insight into the perfect cosmic order of the universe.
Israelites say: ‘Why are we going to Canaan?’
Answer from Genesis: ‘Because Canaan is the ideal and good world as God wants it to be.’

2) Biblical Elaborations
2 Cor 5v17 is a Biblical elaboration of Genesis 1. It opens up the original text to our lives in terms of us being created as good in Christ.

2 Cor 4v17 is another Biblical elaboration on Genesis 1. God shines into our hearts like it shone in beauty at creation by the voice of God.

3) Legitimate Applications
Legitimately applying the text is the process of thinking of ways to express the text in order to change us today.

Example from Genesis 1 and 2 Cor 5v17:
Has God shone in my heart?
Is my nature and character evidencing goodness as the original creation was good?

Another application is that of creation and evolution but not the only application.

The Anchor of the Original Meaning
Why consider the original meaning?

Three in-clues to the original meaning:
1) Text
2) Author
3) Audience

1) Consider the conventional character of a text.
Language has meaning because we agree their meaning.
‘House’ means the same as a ‘Casa’.
We agree to make these sounds have the same meaning.

Come to the text asking: ‘What did it mean?’ at that time.

2) Consider the organic inspiration through the writer
God doesn’t eliminate the outlook and personalities of the writers. He incorporates them into the meaning.
Author and Text are used to communicate meaning.
The dictatorial view of inspiration and the romantic view of inspiration are both wrong.

We need to know why the original writers wrote what they wrote.

3) Consider divine accommodation
We need to understand the need of the audience.
God revealed in a way that the audience could understand.
The Bible is not God’s direct communication to us. We are overhearing a conversation between God and other men. This conversation is still very useful.


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