I have been taught the historical-grammatical approach to biblical hermeneutics both as an undergraduate student and as a graduate student. It has been useful, but it always left me wondering how this approach allows for the Scriptures to be the book of the church rather than merely an open source. It was not until this last semester when I encountered the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer that my paradigm was shaken. Gadamer was a faithful Lutheran is what I have heard, but he was not a biblical exegete, per se. As I read through his work Truth and Method it dawned on me that he did not necessarily have any immediate stock on how Christian Scripture is read. First and foremost he was concerned with hermeneutics as hermeneutics. He was concerned with interpretation as it functions inherently. In the aforementioned work he does not discriminate much between how people approach art, drama, literature, and biblical texts.
So when he criticized historicism (i.e. the idea that the meaning of a text is forever determined by the authorial intent, location of writing, time when it was written, audience toward which it was directed, et al.) it made me stop to think. Is the whole of modern biblical studies built on a foundation that is philosophically weak in and of itself. Is the pride of groups like the Society of Biblical Literature outdated—namely, understanding is a scientific program that unearths static meaning from biblical texts like an archeologist digging for an old piece of pottery from a bygone era? Maybe that is too strong, but it does not seem to be a stretch that reading a philosopher like Gadamer (and Ricoeur, or so I have heard) may awaken us to the reality that meaning and understanding cannot be limited to history even as we read ancient artifacts, or old stage dramas, or Christian Scripture. Meaning is understood through a much more complex series of events.
Christians have spoken of the Scriptures as being our own. Scripture is Christian Scripture. Others can read it and yes, to some extent, understand it, but not like Christians. Is this something mysterious? Is this something cultic? Or is it just reality?
“Every age has to understand a transmitted text in its own way, for the text belongs to the whole tradition whose context interest the age and in which is seeks to understand itself. The real meaning of a text, as it speaks to the interpreter, does not depend on the contingencies of the author and the original audience. It certainly is not identical with them, for it is always co-determined also by the historical situation of the interpreter and hence by the totality of the objective course of history….Not just occasionally but always, the meaning of a text goes beyond its author. That is why understanding is not merely a reproductive but always a productive activity as well.” (Truth and Method, p. 296)
For Gadamer if a text means anything it means what emerges from the text interacting with the reader. Does this result in pure relativity? No, because we must always remember that the process of communication between the reader and text has the intention of the author/text on the other side. Nevertheless, as long as there is a new reader that new reader will hear it in a new way from a new angle which will result in a new meaning. This is inevitable.
If an atheist becomes a biblical scholar there will be a condition on the receiving end that will prevent them from hearing the message of Scripture. If we assume the Holy Spirit is active in the process then we can further postulate that the atheistic reader cannot hear the message of the text as it was intended because that reader refuses to hear the text as saying anything of trans-historical value to him/her. Can an atheist read the Epistle to the Romans understanding that the Apostle declares Jesus to be the resurrected Lord who brings us to the Father by the Holy Spirit that dwells in God’s adopted children. Sure, s/he can understand those words and their dictionary definitions. S/he can understand the text from a historical-grammatical perspective. S/he cannot fully understand those words.
If I wrote a letter to my younger brother recalling what it was like to be raised in our family, with our parents, in the town where we spent our formative years, and some one other than my brother read it, that person could understand what I am saying but they could never understand the text like my brother. This is not mystical, per se. This is not magic. This is reality.
For Gadamer there is something about being part of the tradition within which a given text has been handed down through the centuries. Again, I will mentioned the Epistle to the Romans. We cannot go wrong to read this biblical text with an eye toward the historical context. We cannot waste our time asking why the Apostle wrote the letter, to whom he wrote the letter, and so forth. But a hermeneutic of belief places the Christian at the receiving end of a letter that s/he believes is part of her/his tradition. It is a letter that has spoken to her/his history. It is something that has shaped her/his people (the church in our situation). It is a document that has been debated by his/her forbearers.
So no, we are not determined by tradition, but this does not mean we are free from the tradition. We do not have to affirm all that Augustine of Hippo, or Martin Luther, or John Calvin have said about this text, but we cannot pretend as if this has not impacted our understanding of this text. We cannot escape the concerns of history or the meanings derived. We cannot ignore the decisions toward this or that doctrinal stance that derived from this or that reading of a biblical text because as long as we are part of the Christian community, and we are aware (sometimes even if we are not aware!) of the discussions that have surrounded this text, we cannot access a pristine, non-defiled letter from Paul of Tarsus, a first century Jew, writing to early Christians in the city of Rome. We cannot escape its reception history.
Karl Barth writes something very similar in “The Preface to the First Edition” of his commentary on the Book of Romans (trans. Edwyn C. Hoskyns. The Epistle to the Romans. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 1968). He writes, “Paul, as a child of his age, addressed his contemporaries. It is, however, far more important that, as a Prophet and Apostle of the Kingdom of God, he veritably speaks to all men of every age.” (p. 1) Throughout the various prefaces he continues to defend this position. There is a difference between reading from the historical-critical approach (which he does not deny as having value) and reading from the presupposition that Scripture is inspired.
In “The Preface to the Third Edition” he notes the criticism of Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann thought Barth to be “too conservative”. He said that we must read the writings of the Apostle Paul seeking both the “Spirit of Christ” and “other spirits”. Barth said that Bultmann defined these “other spirits” as “Jewish or Popular Christian or Hellenistic or whatever else they may be.” (p. 16)
Barth thought this to be problematic. He did not see how one was qualified to sift through the biblical text finding Christ here and “other spirits” there. Rather, he said we either read the whole text in the Spirit of Christ or we read the whole text with “other spirits”. We cannot pick and pull the parts we think to be of Christ.
Barth proposed that we must trust the Apostle. He says of a reader,
“The question is whether or not he is to place himself in a relation to his author of utter loyalty. Is he to read him, determined to follow him to the very last word, wholly aware of what he is doing, and assuming that the author also knew what he was doing? Loyalty surely cannot end at a particular point, and certainly he cannot be exhausted by an exposure of the author’s literary affinities. Anything short of utter loyalty means a commentary ON Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, not a commentary so far as possible WITH him.” (p. 17)
In other words, for Barth, we either see the Spirit of Christ coming through all of Paul’s epistle because we affirm the doctrine of inspiration or none of it at all. If we minimize inspiration then we may say things about Paul, but not together with Paul.
Gadamer wrote something similar (void of the doctrine of inspiration, obviously) that shows that Barth was not saying something inherently absurd (one may not affirm the doctrine of inspiration, but if we consider his interaction with Bultmann where the question is whether or not to find inspiration here, but not there, this statement is more relevant). Gadamer writes,
“And just as we believe the news reported by a correspondent because he was present and better informed, so too are we fundamentally open to the possibility that the writer of a transmitted texts is better informed that we are, with our prior opinion. It is only when the attempt to accept what is said as true fails that we try to “understand” the text, psychologically or historically, as another’s opinion. The prejudice of completeness, then, implies not only this formal element—that the text should completely express its meaning—but also that what is says should be complete truth.” (Truth and Method, p. 294)
For Barth, and for the Christian who sees the Apostle as an inspired Apostle and Prophet of God, we do not do anything than what any good reader should do at first: read the other with the benefit of the doubt. When this becomes impossible we can seek to understand why the other believed what they believed under the assumption that they were wrong, but had a reason for this. If we have a prejudice in favor of Scripture we assume that we should not come across a statement that is wrong forcing us to find out why the Apostle was mislead, but rather we assume as Barth writes, regarding the reader, “when he fails to understand, the blame is his and not Paul’s.” (p. 17)
If we come with the presupposition of an inspired biblical text we are going to find meaning that others may not see (cannot see?) in the same text. If I, as a citizen of the United States, read the United States Constitution as an authoritative document, that shapes and guides the people of which I am part, I will reach different conclusions that a historian from France, regarding the meaning and the value and the authority of this document. Why? Because I presuppose the text still speaks and that it still guides even in the present. Even more so for the Christian whose Pneumatology allows for a text that informs the people of God as the Holy Spirit participates in the unfolding meaning of the text through history to its final, eschatological definition.
If I am an atheist (or even a “liberal” Protestant) this is not a possibility. This is their presupposition; therefore, it is not possible for there to be shared meaning between s/he and I. If the presupposition is shared that the words of the Apostle are no longer his own once released to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the people of God, we will note that Scripture is not just a historical document but a living constitution for Christians. At times we may both do historical work affirming that this or that “historical” reading makes the most sense from a “historical” paradigm (maybe), but this does not finalize the meaning of a text because for those with a hermeneutic of belief the Scriptures still speak as they move us toward the return of Christ.
OK, I have rambled on long enough. Let me hear your thoughts on this matter!
I suppose that if the Hermeneutic of Trust/Belief was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it should be good enough for us.
However, as I was reading through your tome, I mean post, I see a difference between say Paul’s hermeneutic of trust and Gadamer’s: for Paul and his contemporaries the culmination of the ages had come (1 Cor. 10:11, NIV). So then what of the Spirit’s role? Well, this is where we need to make a difference between meaning and significance. My take.
But if we’re talking new meaning of a transmitted text and not just applications from derived-principles,
(Good stuff, though I had to read it in two settings. 😉 )
@T.C.: Tome! Nice! Indeed, there is another step taken by Paul that Barth notes as he discusses inspiration. As regards the word “meaning” there is a sense in which Gadamer departs from Schleiermacher and others who see meaning as something static, “in the text” that we must draw out then apply. Gadamer sees the whole process of trying to understand, plus bringing our own questions to the text, then deriving a “better” understanding as “meaning”.
I think Barth’s thinking on Scripture and its “living” nature is tied to his idea of witness; so I don’t think he thinks that “meaning” is dynamic, per se, but that the “Living Word” whom we encounter through the *witness* of the written word gives it life indeed.
@Bobby: I have heard similar takes on Barth. Since his commentary on Romans is older than his Dogmatics (right? I could be wrong there.) do you think that maybe that was a later evolution that was more Christocentric?
Also, I should clarify: I don’t mean to indicate that he is saying what Gadamer said, only that some of what he said is echoed by someone like Gadamer who had no stake in biblical studies/Christian theology as far as his philosophical hermeneutics are concerned.
I do know with Barth, I am no expert 😉 , that he definitely developed over the years from his earlier and land-breaking work in his Romerbrief and then the CD. He ends up being more “dialectic” in his approach and in his more mature form. I think the movement is from his “crisis” days (movement from “liberalism” which produced his Romerbrief) to, then, yes, his “dialectic” approach where he has begun to articulate his “actualised” “metaphysic” (if he can be said to have a metaphysic). I think he was always “christocentric” (and trying to define what that is isn’t so easy, just ask Marc Cortez 😉 . . . he’s written something on that), but then how that gets worked out in his theologising becomes more “sophisticated” as he works his thought out in his CD.
I realize that you weren’t trying to say that Gadamer and Barth are univocal or something. It’s ironic though, as you note, that Bultmann thought Barth was too conservative; when most “Evangelicals” and “Reformed orthodox” believe that Barth was too liberal when it came to a theory of the Bible and Revelation . . . Barth just can’t win 🙂 !
@Bobby: I wonder if this is part of why many are reading Barth today. It may be that many feel caught between “conservatives” and “liberals” of various stripes, identifying with neither. In Barth they seek someone who lived in the middle.
Oddly enough, in the version of Truth and Method printed by Continuum in 2004 there is an essay titled “Hermeneutics and Historicism” from 1965 added in the back. He writes this: “Barth’s Romans is a kind of hermeneutical manifesto.” (p. 510). Later he writes: “In his great work Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth contributes to the hermeneutical problem explicitly nowhere and indirectly everywhere.”
Maybe Barth had some influence on Gadamer?
I don’t know enough about Gadamer, although I wouldn’t doubt that something of Barth was present; at least in the “academy.”
But I think you’re right about “why” Barth is relatively popular today. He offers a fresh (for some) theory of Revelation; that neither the liberals or Fundies really know what to do with, except usually demonize 😦 .
@Bobby: Gadamer’s writing on Schleiermacher, Barth, and Bultmann is interesting to me. It makes me rethink my statement that he didn’t have any stock in biblical interpretation! I will pay more attention to this as I continue to read him.
“For Gadamer if a text means anything it means what emerges from the text interacting with the reader. Does this result in pure relativity? No, because we must always remember that the process of communication between the reader and text has the intention of the author/text on the other side.”
Brian I’d take the author/ out here as it confuses the statement unnecessarily (The author itself can only be known through a historizing hermeneutic)
“If an atheist becomes a biblical scholar there will be a condition on the receiving end that will prevent them from hearing the message of Scripture. If we assume the Holy Spirit is active in the process then we can further postulate that the atheistic reader cannot hear the message of the text as it was intended because that reader refuses to hear the text as saying anything of trans-historical value to him/her. Can an atheist read the Epistle to the Romans understanding that the Apostle declares Jesus to be the resurrected Lord who brings us to the Father by the Holy Spirit that dwells in God’s adopted children. Sure, s/he can understand those words and their dictionary definitions. S/he can understand the text from a historical-grammatical perspective. S/he cannot fully understand those words.”
I think this is really problematic.
1) “If an atheist becomes a biblical scholar there will be a condition on the receiving end that will prevent them from hearing the message of Scripture.”
Why? Do all texts require theism for hearing their ‘message’? Does one really have to be a Nazi to understand Mein Kampf? Does one have to be Japanese to repair a Honda?
2) “If we assume the Holy Spirit is active in the process then we can further postulate that the atheistic reader cannot hear the message of the text as it was intended because that reader refuses to hear the text as saying anything of trans-historical value to him/her.”
Is the Holy Spirit the only conveyor of trans-historical value and meaning? Why? Would a Jew, who similarly in a position of disbelief vis a vi the Holy Spirit also be unable to access the meaning of the text?
3) “Can an atheist read the Epistle to the Romans understanding that the Apostle declares Jesus to be the resurrected Lord who brings us to the Father by the Holy Spirit that dwells in God’s adopted children. Sure, s/he can understand those words and their dictionary definitions. S/he can understand the text from a historical-grammatical perspective. S/he cannot fully understand those words.”
This is an unfalsifiable argument whose purpose seems to be to marginalize the readings of those who don’t hold your faith commitments.
I think you’re really misreading Gadamer here. The point is to illustrate how texts “are” interpreted not proscribe a method. This doesn’t make a Christian reading more “true” to the text, it only makes it a Christian reading.
@Dan: I think you may have missed a general point. No, not all readers must be theist to understand text. If I read Karl Marx as a critical capitalist or socialist then I will not find the same meaning as a committed Marxist/Communist. It is as simple as that. I will not seek to let the book speak toward my life and formation. I will not understand it the same way. Does that make the Marxist right? No, but it does put him/her in a different place than I.
Now, as regards the Spirit, yes, I would say that if one approaches the text with an unbelieving heart there will not be the same work of the Spirit present in their reading of the text as when one who believes approaches the text. I don’t think I am saying anything new here. You can find such language in writings from the Apostle Paul to Calvin to Barth with many in-between.
Falsifiable? Maybe not. I am not sure I care if that standard is met. And while Gadamer may not proscribe “method” he does indicate (as you said) how a text is read. What I am presupposing (yes, a presupposition, something Gadamer assumes) is that the Christian reading will be a better reading because (a) the Spirit and (b) the intent of reading, i.e. reading to allow Scripture to provide a formative, guiding narrative rather than as a static, historical, lifeless text.
“If I read Karl Marx as a critical capitalist or socialist then I will not find the same meaning as a committed Marxist/Communist. It is as simple as that. I will not seek to let the book speak toward my life and formation. I will not understand it the same way. Does that make the Marxist right? No, but it does put him/her in a different place than I.”
I think there’s a difference between stating that one won’t find the same meaning and that one won’t let a book speak toward my life and formation. Erich Fromm certainly let Marx speak to his life and formation but he didn’t have the same reading as Lenin. Tolstoy certainly let the Gospels speak to his life and formation but he didn’t have the same reading as the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Falsifiable? Maybe not. I am not sure I care if that standard is met. And while Gadamer may not proscribe “method” he does indicate (as you said) how a text is read. What I am presupposing (yes, a presupposition, something Gadamer assumes) is that the Christian reading will be a better reading because (a) the Spirit and (b) the intent of reading, i.e. reading to allow Scripture to provide a formative, guiding narrative rather than as a static, historical, lifeless text.”
The question that I’m interested in Brian is the question of why you would want to propose this presupposition. It seems really really problematic. Lets say we are discussing a reading of a biblical text. Our readings are different. Now instead of trying to reconcile our different readings by an appeal back to the text we instead assume two other things about each other:
1) Your/my reading is guided by the Spirit and your/my reading is wrong because it is not guided by the spirit.
2) Your/my reading of the text is informed by the authentic Christian faith and thus your/my reading is better because your/my faith is not authentic.
There can be no engagement in dialogue without accusations of bad faith. This seems like an unworkable hermeneutic and why the question of falsifiability is important.
@Dan:: It seems to me that you have adopted a bit of a black-and-white, either-or approach to what I said. I am not saying “all or nothing”. I am not saying that an atheist cannot find something valuable in Scripture. I am saying that that an atheist does not want the whole of Scripture to form and guide their life and therefore they will not seek to wrestle with the text letting it speak to them from a position that affirms, a priori, that it has something to say to them. Would an atheist disagree?
Also, it appears to me that you are understanding “meaning” through a historical-grammatical lens. For instance, both a believer and an unbeliever will read Rom. 1.1-7 understanding it claims Paul to be an apostle; that he was set apart as such to proclaim the gospel; that he thought the gospel was foreseen by the prophets; that the Holy Scriptures contained such prophecies; that Jesus was an a decedent of David which qualified him to be the Messiah but that it was his resurrection that enthroned him as such; that Jesus Christ is now Lord; that this has led Paul to go to the Gentiles proclaiming this message; now he is writing this letter. Yes, both a believer and an unbeliever can understand this.
An believer will go further. S/he will affirm Paul’s authority as an apostle speaking into one’s life; s/he will see the gospel as central to this; s/he will affirm it was seen in the prophets and s/he may even search for it there; s/he will affirm Scripture speaks this way; s/he will belief that Jesus was raised from the dead and that he is the Messiah; s/he will see the Gentile mission as significant and s/he may even see herself as continuing this mission in her/his actions.
Scripture will mean something different for a believer, by default.
“I am saying that that an atheist does not want the whole of Scripture to form and guide their life and therefore they will not seek to wrestle with the text letting it speak to them from a position that affirms, a priori, that it has something to say to them. Would an atheist disagree? ”
I’d offer up John Shelby Spong, Paul van Buren, William Hamilton, Thomas Altizer, Gabriel Vahanian, and Richard Rubenstein as those who might disagree. Depending on how you define theism Paul Tillich may also qualify. These, of course, are merely theologians and churchmen and I would assume there to be atheists in the pews as well and certainly atheists wrestling with the text in the belief it has something to say to them.
“Scripture will mean something different for a believer, by default.”
Brian, I don’t dispute this.
What I dispute is that the Christian reading will be necessarily better by the criterion you have laid out. I also dispute that all Christian readings will be the same and believe that it would be wrong impute on these differences to a lack of the Holy Spirit or a lack of authentic Christian faith.
This hermeneutic actually draws us away from the text and causes all other readings to be dismissed out of hand as the products of bad faith. How does this hermeneutic help us to settle disputes regarding the meaning of the text? What work does it do?
Example Mr. X belongs to an Episcopal Church. The witness of the Holy Spirit and his Christian faith gives him a reading of the scriptures that affirms the validity of homosexuality. Mr. Y belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The witness of the Holy Spirit and his Christian faith gives him a reading of the scriptures that affirms that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and a sin. How does this hermenutic settle this dispute of interpretation?
@Dan:: I hope that there is never a day when I would be in much agreement with someone like Spong. I find his whole project worthless. As regards the others, I have never heard of them.
Now when it comes to Christians discussing Scripture amongst Christians we are moving toward something new altogether. As you know, this becomes complicated. For the most part we would need to answer this case-by-case. We can’t say anything until we know of whom we speak when we refer to “Episcopalian X”, “Catholic Y”, or “Baptist Z”. Likewise, if someone claims to be a Christian this does not mean that by default we should trust their interpretation of Scripture. Spong, for example, is not someone to whom I would give a hearing.
Likewise, I am not saying there is a unilateral “Christian reading”. Once again, you have moved “meaning” into “text A in its historical-grammatic context means such and such”. That can be argued all day between Christians, Atheist, Buddhist and the like. But there is a Christian assumption that the text does speak to us and that the text is our “script”.
So if two faithful Christian agree that Scripture is the “script” of Christian living, and they differ over women as pastors or homosexuality there is a huge difference between this and someone like Spong who essentially needs Christianity to be formed in his own image or he condemns it as dead (though it is growing outside of his limited, Anglo-centric, modernist world).
How can you dismiss the witness of the Spirit that Spong feels lead by and the authenticity of his Christian faith according to your hermeneutic? In your dismissal of Spong aren’t you suggesting that there is indeed a unilateral Christian reading? Spong certainly believes, rightly or wrongly, that he is following the ‘script’ and that it does speak to him.
@Dan: I hate to oversimplify, but I can dismiss Spong much like the Apostles dismissed Simon Magus; like Irenaeus dismissed the gnostics; like Barth rejected the Nazi abduction of Scripture; like most of us should dismiss the abuse of Scripture from our power hungry politicians. Spong has neither foot in the Christian tradition. He doesn’t even try to dialog with the church on these matters nor does he see Scripture as an authority in any real sense. He may wear a clergy’s robe, but that is it.
Again, let me say one more time, this does not mean that there is not an authorial intent of a passage. This is not saying there is not a historical-grammatical meaning. It is saying that there is an additional aspect that must be acknowledged as the Scriptures are passed down through the Christian tradition, in the Christian community, in the shape of a cannon. If we step away from the voices of the past we must do so carefully in communion with other saints always asking if Scripture is being used rightly. Spong is a maverick who does no such thing.
Then I take it the historical-grammatical meaning is still normative? Spong is excluded from the discussion because his teaching violates the historical-grammatical meaning (For this was how Simon Magnus was dismissed by the Apostles, how Irenaus dismissed the Gnostics, and how Barth rejected Nazism). And how did you arrive at this normative historical-grammatical meaning?
Gadamer’s answer would appear to be the one you cited, “The real meaning of a text, as it speaks to the interpreter, does not depend on the contingencies of the author and the original audience. It certainly is not identical with them, for it is always co-determined also by the historical situation of the interpreter and hence by the totality of the objective course of history….Not just occasionally but always, the meaning of a text goes beyond its author. That is why understanding is not merely a reproductive but always a productive activity as well.””
The historical-grammatical meaning doesn’t seem like it exists here but that it is rather the product of your/mine productive activity as interpreters brought to bear upon the source/text. Gadamer’s hermeneutic them seems to render the idea of a normative historical-grammatical meaning as suspect if not impossible. There is certainly not room for any authorial intent that exists outside or in addition to the text itself.
I don’t think you’re necessary wrong when you say, “It is saying that there is an additional aspect that must be acknowledged as the Scriptures are passed down through the Christian tradition, in the Christian community, in the shape of a cannon. If we step away from the voices of the past we must do so carefully in communion with other saints always asking if Scripture is being used rightly.” I’m just not certain Gadamer is the person you should be looking toward as support for such a conviction.
Again, what work does this new additional aspect to your hermeneutic do? What is made possible that was impossible with the historical-grammatical approach?
@Dan: I do not know as to whether the historical-grammatic method is normative. I don’t think we can say the Apostles, or Irenaeus, or Barth used this hermeneutic. In fact, all three did not use it for doctrinal/dogmatic concerns.
As concerns Gadamer, there is room for the author but he is attacks, specifically, historicism or the idea that that meaning is locked to that context alone. Does the author not contribute? Of course, how could s/he not? In this conversation right here “meaning” is not locked to what I say to you. I do have an intention and you can come “closer” or “further” to/from what I intend, but that doesn’t determine meaning. If you are receiving my message you automatically filter it through the paradigms you hold and the concerns you bring to what I say. There is not a pure reception.
So, for instance, when Pelagius and Augustine debate human contribution to salvation we know Paul didn’t directly address their concern, yet it is the conviction of the church is that the Spirit has given us the text as a “script” for the life and teaching of the church. Now we must ask what does Paul’s writing mean for us? How does what he left us in this text address this situation?
What my denial of historicism implies is that we can reconstruct Paul’s thoughts and motivations. We can speculate about such things, sure. But when it comes to allowing his writings to function as an authority we must take care to make sure that we don’t time lock Paul’s words as if they do not address anything other than his world.
As to your last paragraphs I am opening the door for that discussion here: https://nearemmaus.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/multiple-approaches-to-reading-scripture/
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