As an Australian, with some links to the UK, I sometimes find myself in the situation where I have to comment on the cricket. If you ever find yourself in this sort of situation, don’t panic, just borrow my all-purpose line. I just roll my eyes and say, with an exasperated tone, “What’s with the selectors?!” I have no idea what it means, but it always achieves a satisfying result.
Given that I’m teaching a unit on Hebrew exegesis of 1-2 Samuel next semester, I wanted to provide some vocab lists for myself and the students, so that before the unit starts, we can improve our grasp of the rarer vocab in the particular chapters that we’re focusing on. Here’s the process I followed:
1) Think: Logos should be able to do easily customisable original language vocab lists, perhaps even putting them in the form of electronic flashcards.
2) Remember: I don’t really know how to make the most of Logos’ capabilities. Wait, Jon’s good at Logos. I’ll ask Jon.
3) Seek help from Jon. Jon provides the following info:
- To create a list of all vocab in the relevant chapters is straight forward: create a new Word List document, call it “1-2Sam vocab” then click Add, change the selected bible to LHB, and type in each of the blocks of chapters we’re studying and press enter….
- Create another new list called something like “All Hebrew Vocab” and in the add box type “Genesis-Malachi”, this could take 5-10 minutes and Logos might look like it has frozen, but just wait it out. When it’s done you have a list of all the vocab in the OT sorted by frequency.
- Make a copy of this list by creating a new word list and clicking Add; words from another word list; and clicking “All Hebrew Vocab”.
- Name this list “Hebrew Vocab < 70” or something similar. Make sure the list is sorted by “Count” (=frequency), select the top word and then scroll down shift-click the last word with 71 occurrences to select all the common words, right-click the selection; Delete rows. Now you have a list with all words in the OT with <=70 occurrences.
- Now click Merge, Intersection and select the “1-2Sam vocal” list, this should result in a new list with words in those chapters that occur <=70 times in the OT.
- You can export that to a spreadsheet or whatever format you think is most useful to send around.
4) Attempt the above. Fail to achieve required results.
5) Get Frustrated. Give up. Send failed results to Jon.
6) Jon does it, and sends the correct results to me. Turns out one issue was that “Genesis-Malachi” doesn’t catch all of the data in a Hebrew language Bible, because, of course, it’s arranged differently.
7) Think: Logos should develop an easy way to do this, which automatically converts the results into a pre-fabricated Android/iPhone flashcard element of the Logos app.
I’m intrigued by Hector Avalos’ piece on interpretation of the Bible. There are some fine points that he makes, including the point that there is no such thing as a disinterested or anti-hegemonic reader. But I think he is too simplistic here:
The philosophical and ethical problems with reinterpretation are usually never addressed very thoroughly by biblical scholars. Such ethical and philosophical problems can be seen more clearly if we realize that two positions can be identified for those who believe there is even such a thing as authorial intent:
A. Authorial intent is the only one that matters;
B. Authorial intent is not the only one that matters.
If one chooses A, then reinterpretation would be as unethical as reinterpreting my words to mean something other than what I intended, at least insofar as my intentions are clearly expressed by my words. Reinterpretation really becomes a game of “let’s pretend the Bible now says something else.”
If one chooses B, then the only result is chaos and relativism that renders moot and superfluous all research into the ancient socio-historical context and philology of the Bible. Why bother finding out what a text meant if we are allowed to reinterpret it, anyway? Reinterpretation in that sense is really the rejection of an original meaning. As such, we cannot say that any reinterpretation is biblical anymore than my original intentions could be called mine if they were reinterpreted in the future.
The result of “chaos and relativism” does not follow from B at all, but from C, which he didn’t mention:
C. Authorial intent, and contextualised meaning, does not matter at all.
Certainly the New Testament writers seem to assume that the original contextual meaning of the OT Scriptures must now be reconsidered in the light of the Christ event, to which they were dimly bearing witness. In this sense, the “reinterpreted meaning” is more, but not less, than its original contextual meaning.
If in the future someone is able to find deeper or extended significance in something I say, it is true that I may disagree; but this is not a methodological certainty: I may actually be delighted that someone has taken my words further than I was able to see from my vantage point.
Here at Trinity Theological College, we have launched a Centre of Excellence in the field of Biblical Theology. Find out more in this short video…
I’ll be co-teaching a unit on 1-2 Samuel next year. It’s out of my area of expertise, so I’ve been trying to gain a better idea of its content. Here my 3yo daughter Zoe runs through the plot of 1-2 Samuel in 10 seconds:
While on the topic of reviews, Walter Moberly has reviewed Horizons in Hermeneutics in the latest issue of The Journal of Theological Studies. He is positive about the volume overall, although expresses disagreement with one of the essays.
Somehow I missed this review of Kenneth Bailey’s Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes by Ben Witherington last year. I’m in sympathy with Witherington’s main reservations…