Spotlight: Interpreting Scripture

01.19.2021  |  Season 2  |  Episode 9



SHOW NOTES

In this episode, the four hosts sit down together (well, virtually) and talk about how we read, interpret, and apply the Bible within our own lives and work. Approaching this from each of our subdisciplines, we raise questions about how doctrine and Scripture relate, what the relationship is between the divine and human authors, and how the text of the New and Old Testaments relates to later Creeds and theological developments.

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro
[00:00:00] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

Madison Pierce
Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m Madison Pierce.

Josh Jipp
I’m Josh Jipp.

James Arcadi
I’m James Arcadi.

Michelle Knight
And I’m Michelle Knight.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Pierce
Well, welcome back to Foreword. This is an episode where it’s just the four of us, and this time around, we thought it might be good for us to talk about a topic. And one of the things that often comes up—I don’t know…I know this is the case in my life in ministry and work and all of that—is how we use Scripture, how we apply it, how we interpret it, things like that. And since we are an interdisciplinary group, we thought this might be a good thing for y’all to hear about. So, what are some of the questions that have come up as you’ve been teaching, ministering, etc., etc.?

Arcadi
Yeah, Madison, I…I’ve got a question just as, like, the lone systematic theologian here on…on the panel, or in the group, here, and…so kind of a question for the biblical scholars: um, sometimes I get kind of confused when I…when I read biblical studies, whether it’s Old Testament or New Testament, about, sort of, how biblical scholars see themselves engaging with Scripture. Sometimes it seems more like, “Oh, I’m a historian, so I don’t really say anything ‘theological.’” And sometimes it seems like, “Oh, I’m totally comfortable, like, you know, doing contemporary application and bridging the text from, like, the…the past to the present.” So, um, I’d just be kind of curious as to how you all think about that sort of thing. I mean, Michelle, in Old Testament that comes up a lot. How do you think about your sort of, like, vocation, or task, with respect to your interpret…your interpreting the text in this particular time?

Knight
Sure. Well, I think one of the ongoing discussions in Old Testament studies and biblical studies broadly is: to what degree we need to, um—if…if we are people who care about, uh, the author’s intention. We need to define that further, uh, in terms of the human author or the divine author, and in, uh, Old Testament studies in particular, one of the consistent hermeneutical questions is: to what degree do we restrict, uh, our interpretive lens to the interpretive horizon of the original audience—whoever we presume that that might have been? Um, and so then, of course, there’s also, you know, disagreements about whether we mean “the person who,” you know, “heard the prophet speak” or “the person who received the written book with the prophet’s teachings a little bit later,” or, um, whomever. Uh, but, how…how do we handle, uh, the kind of dual authorship of Scripture, um, and does God—as he inspires, um, authors—does he inspire them, uh, with…with knowledge, with direction, with thoughts, um, that kind of transcend their own cultural understanding? So I…that’s kind of an open question, I think, in Old Testament studies, and probably leads to some of the, uh, differences you’re seeing in…in discussions. Personally, uh, I think I emphasize the authorship of God a little bit more, uh, than some other Old Testament, uh, writers, and because of that, uh, I’m a little bit—not people who wrote the Old Testament but people who write in Old Testament, just to be clear [LAUGHS]. Uh, but because of that, I’m a little more comfortable framing things in terms beyond that which the original person who uttered the oracle or wrote it down would have understood, because I feel like theologically, I have that capacity to do so. Um, I don’t know. Josh, is that something that is an ongoing discussion in New Testament studies? My sense is that it is.

Jipp
Yeah, I…I think, you know, one of the challenges—and I…I like the question, you know, what…how…how James framed it in terms of, um, “I’m kind of confused! Like, what do you people do?” [LAUGHTER] And some of it I think is because, um, uh, we do different things and some of us, you know, will focus on sort of the historicity of the text or where the text came from. Some of us, I think as Michelle is talking about, right, are focused on the authorial intention and the—you know, how do we make sense of the text as a…uh, as a piece of literature? And some of us are more interested in—how do we ethically, theologically appropriate it? And we’re not always…maybe as clear as we could be. What I basically just described here is…some people talk about looking at approaches behind the text, you know, the text itself, in front of the text and before the text…or whatever. But…at…at any rate, people aren’t always clear in terms of how those three work. And most of us, I think, kind of hang out in one or two, but rarely do we…I don’t think there’s too many of us that do all three. I don’t know. Would you…would you agree with that, Madison?

Pierce
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think Michelle is also introducing, um, the broader discussion about divine authorship, and I think that—

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
—that’s important for us in…in New Testament studies, but I…I mean, I wouldn’t say that that’s…um, as visible of a question for me when I’m interpreting because I…I…you know, I am looking at the text as we’ve received it, and thinking about the authorial intention—[LAUGHS] whatever that means…no, you know, I mean, I know that’s a defined term, but…the authorial intent of the human author with some kind of view of the limitations that we have to knowing that. Um, and so, all of that to say, um…yeah, I think that’s representative of the field. I don’t know, though, um…I think the difficulty for me in the, um… what is it? It’s…I think the “three worlds” is Ricœur, right? So, with that kind of conception, is the…you talked about people camping out in one or two or something like that?

Jipp
Mmhmm.

Pierce
Is…I think it’s more…um, it’s not necessarily where people actually camp out, but it’s where they think they camp out.

Arcadi
Hmm.

Knight
Agreed.

Pierce
Because we’re all doing stuff “in front of the text.” We’re all, you know, we…everybody that’s doing theological interpretation—I mean, Walter Moberly is, you know, the paradigm for this. I mean, he’s doing clear “behind the text” historical critical stuff, but he’s using that in service of applying the text in a theologically robust way. And so again, I think it’s more about, like, “What do I say I’m doing?” rather than “What am I actually doing?”

Knight
Yeah.

Jipp
Hmm.

Pierce
I…I don’t know if that makes sense.

Jipp
Mmhmm.

Pierce
So…I don’t know. Michelle, are we addressing kind of what you were saying—or James, are we answering your question? [LAUGHS]

Knight
[00:06:32] Yeah. Uh, I mean, as to your first question, Madison, yes. You’re…you’re…I mean, we’re all just kind of raising issues. But I do think what you’re talking about is important, because, I think anybody you ask in my field is going to say something like, “Well, of course God is the author of Scripture. Of course I think about that.” Um, but kind of like what James says, you…James said…the…the way that James posed the question was, you know, “How do you guys use Scripture?” Uh, and I think we’d all be like, “I don’t…we just…we just use Scripture.” Like, “We just talk about the bible.” Like, that…that hermeneutical framework, that theoretical discussion, in some circles occasionally is something that we’re just not processing at all, like Madison said. And we can think we’re living in one space, when in reality, we’re actually doing quite a few other things.

Arcadi
Well, I guess maybe if I might kind of just press a little bit, and kind of further into curiosity, like, um, you know, you…Michelle, for instance, you…you mentioned taking divine authorship as something that’s important to you as you’re thinking about the text. And I guess I kind of wonder—how much, then, does…do you see that leading to the totality of Scripture, and maybe even, like, the totality of Christian theology as helping you, or coming alongside of you, when you do your “reading” of a particular narrative, or scene, or prophecy or what have you?

Knight
Well, uh, in my own hermeneutic, because I am…I am really comfortable emphasizing that divine authorship more than some, uh, at least in a particular way, that means I tend to think fairly canonically, because I expect…I expect that there’s going to be a consistent message because there is one author, uh, who is working in all of that writing to communicate something. Of course there’s going to be, um, there’s going to be nuance and there’s going to be varying perspectives, but I tend to be a synthesizer, and I tend to be constantly looking for unity. Uh, and I would point to my own theological orientation to…to watch for, like, this…this divine message that, uh, is being articulated, uh, through the human medium. Uh, and so in that capacity, um, I…I definitely think canonically. I’m fairly comfortable with kind of, uh, theological, uh, summaries of the biblical teaching—like the creeds and things like that—because they are that. They are a way for us to speak about what’s happening canonically. Uh, and so insofar as those inform my reading, because I can be like, “Yes, that’s the canonical witness,” then that’s…I…I’m pleased to have so many people throughout history summarizing and agreeing with that summary, and I can be like, “Ok, cool. We’re on the same page.” [LAUGHS] Uh, but that is not something that everybody in my field is comfortable with—for sure. Uh, I mean—Josh? Madison? Uh, I’m not sure which one of you might want to go first, but what does…what does that look like in New Testament studies? The…the conversation of the creeds, and maybe big or little “t” tradition—how does that play into the way that you’re interpreting Scripture? Josh, do you want to speak first?

Jipp
Uh, yeah! I’m happy to. Um, I suppose a few…a few ways, maybe, it comes into play is…one is  I do think, I mean, as…as I’m reading the texts, there is sort of a doctrine of God and a doctrine of the Word of God that is in place that is informing sort of how I treat these texts, ultimately what I think their subject matter is, and ultimately, then, sort of, like, why I think it can be problematic to, um…view my task as only doing exegesis and holding at arm’s length “application” or theology, because as we are teaching and making sense and reading the text together as a group, uh, in my classes, um, we are simultaneously, like, looking at something that’s an object, but we’re also, you know, whether we know it or not, are being addressed, right? By God, and so—who…who is the ultimate subject matter of the text. So I’d say, like, doctrine of God, uh, a notion that these are Scriptural texts, this is the Word of God, this is actually revelation, they’re not just, um, texts that have significant religious value, um…those…those would be at least a couple of ways, um, that would sort of inform my hermeneutics, both in terms of how I try to teach—I don’t know if I’ve figured out how to necessarily do this perfectly in the classroom—and then also…I mean, this might be another question, but some of…some of the writing that I like to do is…is also trying to figure out ways to draw, um, theology and exegesis together a little more closely that you might find, say, in a religious studies department.

Um, what do you think, Madison?

Pierce
[00:11:12] Yeah, I think that, um, I think you’re representing our field well. I think that some of the way that you’re framing this discussion, Michelle, may…may feel a little bit foreign to…to me in my discipline—

Knight
Okay.

Pierce
—because when I think about a strong focus on authorial intent in New Testament studies, I see a diminishing of the, um, the human author’s distinctiveness and, uh, his social location, um, even the sort of information available to him, and of course, you know, working on, like, use of scripture in scripture, and stuff like that. Like, that’s…that’s very important to me to think about; what was going on at the time, what was available to the—not just the author, but, um, to those who were receiving the text at that time? And, I think because Josh and I can point to a more specific spot—you know, at least, like, within decades, rather than centuries, um, you know, we can do that with a…in a different way than…than those of you working on the First Testament. And so, I think that, um, at least when I hear people overemphasize the…the, um, divine authorship, I see them, um…uh…yeah, diminishing that…that aspect. I don’t think that’s what you’re doing at all, but I think that’s why I tend to avoid that language when I talk about—

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
—what I’m doing and how theology comes out of…of my work in the text. Um, but yeah, I mean, I, um, you know, I write on the Trinity in the New Testament [LAUGHTER], I just…you know, I just did an article on the importance of the Nicene Creed, so, um, you know, I think that, um, that those are—I think that the creedal formulations are absolutely summaries of Scripture from the first centuries of Christianity, um, but I also…I don’t think that those come out of lots and lots and lots of this and that, but I think that they’re based on readings of Scripture. Like, that’s one of the most important things for me in terms of early Christian reflections—Tertullian, Augustine, the creeds, etc.—that they’re not just going, you know…um, they’re not products of just hundreds of years of development, but they are, you know, drawing from the text and making arguments that are available—and even reflected in the arguments made in the New Testament themselves. But, of course, I mean, this is a place where, you know, I’m doing something rather different. So I…I don’t know. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] Josh, I don’t know if you want to, like, push back and say, like, “Yeah, what she does is crazy!” but…[LAUGHS]

Jipp
No, no. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] I do…I do wonder if you are sort of, though, um—I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, so tell me if…if I’m understanding you rightly. Do you—I…I…you know, some people…like, when we talk about doing “theological interpretation of Scripture,” that can mean a lot of different things. Maybe…it would be interesting to hear if we would all give sort of, like, our summary definition of what that is. But one I think, like, fear of theological interpretation of Scripture is maybe what you were saying kind of at the beginning, Madison—is that…is that true that maybe, like a later formulation or doctrine might, in a way, override, or potentially be competitive with, or diminish what the text itself might say, or…or compete, actually, with the human author? Is that kind of how you were saying it? Is…is that fair, or am I not—

Pierce
My concern is more about synthesis, and—

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
—and about, like, um…so, you know, saying that, um, you know, “the author here is quoting this text, and it obviously has, like, this importance.” So, I mean, I…I…I’m not—this…it’s going to sound like I’m picking on your work, Josh, but I’m absolutely not. [JIPP LAUGHS] I’m talking about, like, other conceptions of messianic theology—but you…and I know you and I are mostly on the same page on this. Like, I think it’s a tendency in New Testament studies to, like, take the word “messiah” as though it’s like a snowball, and then…and then you roll it down a hill. And so all of the things that are said about Jesus in the New Testament suddenly stick to the snowball, and by the time it gets to the bottom of the hill, it’s ginormous. And…but it really doesn’t have—it doesn’t define like, all of those things that got rolled up into the ball; they don’t actually define the concept of “messiah.” They define “Jesus,” and Jesus is messiah, but messiah—like, lowercase “m”—is not necessarily all that Jesus is. Like, we see in the New Testament Jesus as all of these different things, like, coming together. And…and sure, the messianic office is really complex, but again, that equivocating is troubling to me, and I think that happens when we focus too much on, um, how the text is intended, you know, by God or something like that. Like, I…I’m not so sure that that’s how God intended it. And I do think that, um—and again, I’m…this is not what I think Michelle is doing. I think this is a difference in our fields—um, but I…I think that can be used in a way that actually, uh, diminishes the—uh, or, um, doesn’t take seriously— the text itself, because there’s a “free for all.” Like, how in the world do you know what’s in the mind of God? And now we can gesture towards James and he can tell us about, uh, apophatic theology or something like that, but…um, yeah the…so I…yeah [LAUGHS]—

Arcadi
I can’t actually tell you about apophatic theology.

Pierce
[00:16:36] [LAUGHS] Of course not! Of course not! [LAUGHTER] Tell us! Tell us what it’s not—no. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] So I think, yeah, at this—I don’t know if that answers your question, Josh, if you want to follow up. But otherwise, you know, I’d…I’d love to think more about, um, the formulation of doctrine from Scripture, because I think that’s where James—that’s your…your time to shine. I’d…I’d love to hear, um, the relationship between Scripture and your formulation of doctrines, you know, coming from your discipline as well.

Arcadi
Yeah, I mean, I suppose, um, uh…so I suppose sometimes in the conversation about the application from, or the movement from, Scripture to theology—I…I have confusions there too, because I tend to think that Scripture is pretty multifaceted and…and complex body of literature. And so the move is not going to be the same in every single, you know, instance—

Pierce
Yeah.

Arcadi
—because we’ve got lots of different genres, and different authors, and different contexts, and…and what have you. And you know, sometimes, it’s, like, pretty easy to do, like, you know, theology from Scripture because it’s, like, doing theology already. [LAUGHS] You know, like when, I don’t know, Paul talks about Adam and Christ in Romans and what have you, it’s like, “Well, that’s…that’s just…that’s just theology—it seems like to me,” you know? [LAUGHTER] Whereas other times—I don’t know, whatever it is—you have some kind of, uh, I don’t know, Old Testament prophecy, or a Psalm, or…or what have you, where it’s like, “Okay, well, you know. In order to kind of derive some thoughts about God out of this, I’m going to take a couple of…a couple of steps. It’s not quite on the surface there.” So, um…and maybe that’s, uh, part of the…part of the complexities that I, you know, wrestle with—and we’re all kind of wrestling with—is this sort of like, you know…on one level, it’s like, one thing that is “Scripture,” but on the other hand, that one thing is so multifaceted and diverse that there isn’t just, like, one way to do that one thing—that is, move from Scripture to theology. So, that didn’t give you a concrete answer—

Knight
Oh, yeah.

Arcadi
—but, uh, it does maybe speak to some of my further confusions.

Knight
Well, and I think that…that’s…I think that’s helpful for us to remember just how complex this is, which is why we’re all ending up in different places, uh, because, you know, even as we’re trying to articulate our fields and we’re nuancing it different ways, uh, I, for one, for example, am very grateful that there are people like Madison and there are people like Josh who are doing really close historical work, because it checks people like me who, like, do actually—I think if I were…um, how do I say this? Madison wasn’t attacking my work and I didn’t feel like that. But, uh, as somebody who looks for unity and looks for synthesis everywhere, uh, I am grateful that there are people who are there to be like, “Hey, there are boundaries for interpretation and there are boundaries for how we use these things.” And that, uh, James, is what I’d kind of like to hear some more from you about. In this move from Scripture to theology, um, how much…uh, how much does the historical situation of a given passage or something like that, um, provide interpretive boundaries, uh, for you as you use that passage and decide, um, how it…it…it works into doctrinal formulation?

Arcadi
Yeah, no. It’s a…it’s a…it’s a great question, and it kind of gets at what you were maybe speaking of earlier, as, like, how much do you feel comfortable kind of moving beyond what the original author or the original audience—or “audiences” as you kind of put it as well, especially with complicated situations in…in the Old Testament? I guess I’m, you know, more comfortable kind of, you know, reading the Bible as Christian Scripture, and therefore it’s got, like, a totality to it and it’s got a particular context to it that is—that historical context is also the context of…of the church and the way in which the church has—I mean, at least in my view—sort of broadly read those particular texts as well. So, you know, you look at problematic sorts of situations where you’re like, “Well, can you look at the—like, is the Trinity in the Old Testament?” you know, or, “Is the Trinity in Genesis when it says, you know, when…when Genesis says, ‘Let us make humans in our image’?” and stuff like that. And I kind of think, “Well, you know, we can look at that and ask what kind of, you know, verbs are going on in there, and kind of get us out some sort of, like, you know, diversity—is this the heavenly hosts? Is this the royal ‘we,’ or whatever?” I wouldn’t, like, exclude the Trinity as a possibility there just because that’s a New Testament doctrine or a post-New Testament doctrine. Because, looking at the totality, I think, “Well, that’s…that’s an option that’s on the table.” I don’t know if that’s the best read for it, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s, you know, off the table just because it’s sometimes later. Whereas, I would imagine, if you’re just trying to fit in just, you know, very narrowly into the original, you know, context of the composition of Genesis, that wouldn’t be an option. Am I…am I right about that?

Knight
[00:21:11] Uh, I mean, a lot of people in my field would say, “Yes, that because, um, because we…when we look back at the mindset of people who lived in the Ancient Near East, we’re just not seeing the conceptual framework of…of…you know, a Trinitarian conception of…of the Godhead being anything.” Um, you know, to speak of monotheism and Judaism, of course, is a huge topic, and exactly how that, um, came to be and what that looks like at different periods in Jewish history, of course, is debated. But yes, the…the short answer is: the average Old Testament scholar would say, “Based on what we’ve got there…” that “There are a million ways to describe that, but it’s probably not Trinitarian.” That doesn’t mean all Old Testament scholars would say that, but yes. You would be doing something a little different than the average Old Testament person.

Jipp
The… can I…can I jump in and just ask—

Knight
Please.

Jipp
—you know, uh, the…the…so, what do you do, you know…what…what does one do, then, say with like, Paul when he’s, uh, clearly quoting the Shema in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6? And it seems as though—I don’t have it memorized, but he basically, right, speaks of two persons—I mean, he doesn’t use the language of “persons,” but there’s the God of Israel and there’s Jesus—

Knight
Yeah.

Jipp
—that are, like, part of that One God, right, in, like, Deuteronomy 6—

Knight
You would have to…[LAUGHS]—

Jipp
—I mean…it’s hard; it’s difficult, but it’s like—

Knight
You would have to ask my colleagues, because I…because of those passages—

Jipp
Yeah.

Knight
—I’m comfortable reading the Trinity pretty explicitly in Genesis 1.

Jipp
But then would that mean that you are—and I’m not…I mean this is a…totally an honest question—

Knight
Yeah.

Jipp
—not…not like a “Gotcha!” or anything—

Knight
We’re all friends here, guys.

Jipp
—but then are you…the…does that mean, then, you would be saying Paul—you know, Paul has, like, further revelation and, um, that’s not the, um…that’s not the authorial intention of Deuteronomy 6—

Knight
Well if you—

Jipp
—it’s not…and it’s not even maybe, like, possibly, you know, perhaps even, like, possible for the…uh…uh…for the author? You…you…

Knight
Yeah. I…I mean…it’s…again, it depends on who you ask. I would say that “No, that wasn’t…”—because my hermeneutic still relies on authorial intention, I would probably still continue to use authorial language, but I would say, “The fact that Paul said it that way, uh, gives me, uh, clarity that God intended that passage to be read in that way…only because Paul said it.”

Jipp
Yeah.

Knight
I wouldn’t go around saying that a lot of the time, but because Paul said it, I’d be like, “Okay, well that’s obviously what God meant for that to say, or that God revealed that to Paul, um, as something uh, that that….that that passage means.” Uh, so I guess—now we’re going to get into what it meant and what it can mean [JIPP LAUGHS] or like, meaning and implication and we can, like, bring Stendahl in and it can get intense, but—

Arcadi
Maybe…can—

Knight
—I guess what I’m saying is, Paul makes it clear to me that that is the way to read it, and so, uh, whether the human author thought that—and my guess is the human author didn’t completely understand that—God seems to write it in such a way that we can go back and read it that way later, uh, and I’m taking that cue from Paul. James, did you have something?

Arcadi
Well, I mean, you’re not saying that Paul, like, negates the Shema or anything like that. Like, Paul’s not saying that God is not “One” or something along those lines.

Jipp
No I’m not…I’m not saying that, but I’m…but I’m saying that, like, there are…there are now two references to the One God within 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. Or we could just call them “persons.” I mean, like, in terms of—and that, um, you know, that’s only reading…I mean I don’t think you could get that reading out of Deuteronomy 6—

Knight
Right

Jipp
—apart from sort of, like, a, uh, a Christological standpoint, right? Like, there’s…there’s some kind of relationship between these two persons that then causes you to go back and look at Deuteronomy 6 and understand it anew. Does that make…does that make sense, James? But it’s not…it’s definitely not a negation of the Shema.

Arcadi
[00:25:12] Mmhmm. Well, I guess, I mean, I guess my…my thought would be; that’s…that’s kind of what, you know, the doctrine of the Trinity tries to do, is to try to preserve this, like, you know, utter unity of God, you know, “Behold the Lord our God. The Lord is One,” with like, this, you know—

Jipp
Yeah.

Arcadi
—duality, and then, you know, tri…tri-unity—“triality” or whatever—um, that we see sort of later on, and say, “Oh, well, yeah, you know, ‘one’ for sure, but somehow that ‘oneness’ doesn’t deny the possibility of it being three also.” Now, could you have gotten that “threeness” out of just looking at Deuteronomy 6, you know, pre-incarnation, or what have you? You know, I might say, “Well probably not.” I mean, maybe if you were kind of wonky you’d…you’d speculate something like that, but…but Paul’s got this new kind of stuff going on, and he’s like, “Yeah, well, you know, we can…we can do this. We can do ‘one’ and ‘three,’ or ‘one’ and ‘two,’ in that particular passage there.” And that’s what’s kind of like, “Well, that’s kind of…that’s kind of new.” And that seems to me like a very theological thing to do. [LAUGHS]

Knight
Yeah, I want to hear from the “Scripture in Scripture” person on this.

Pierce
[LAUGHS] So…so what I would push back—and this is probably, like, coming back to the kind of nuance that I was…I was pushing in the conversation with Michelle about authorial intention—is that I don’t think it’s reasonable—sorry, that’s slightly too strong—but I don’t…I don’t think it’s right to say that, um, like, “God put that on Paul and then he said it and…ta-da! Now we can read the Shema this way!” Like, I think that Paul reads it that way because that is somehow available to him in the history of interpretation, or there is, for Paul—and presumably for his readers that are going to accept this interpretation—there’s something in the text, whether super clear or…or somewhat vague that he’s going to have to unpack—

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
—that gives us that meaning.

Jipp
What…what would that be? What…what would that be?

Pierce
Um, I mean, in that—that text is harder for me, but I would say, you know, the…the discussion of one who is “theós” (θεός) and “kurios” (κύριος)—um, you know, that kind of interplay there, where, like, θεός and κύριος can refer in two different ways…I..I don’t know—um, it could be that it’s, you know, in that particular passage, it could be that, um, that He’s already established, you know, so—sorry, I…I don’t have a good answer for that particular text. But I would say that I don’t think that Paul is going to…to read that text in a way that his…his readers in Corinth are going to go, “[LAUGHS] No! No. No. No. How dare you!”

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
Like, that has to be built on some kind of framework, whether it’s something in the Shema—and so maybe I need to nuance this a little bit—something in the Shema itself or something that he’s already established through his reading strategies in another…in other texts.

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
And so…I mean, if, like, I can go to Hebrews and I can show you, like, clues in this and that, or whatever, but, um, yeah. I think typically we can see something in the biblical…like, the original text that gives us an…an…like, an opening…like, a foot in the door for the New Testament reading.

Knight
But it needs to be in that local text? Because, like, I think I would be comfortable saying what you’re saying, as long as it’s, like, the full Old Testament—uh, as long as he can pull on kind of the developing witness. Because if that’s the case, then yes. Like, I don’t think Paul’s ever doing anything that’s brand new, out of nowhere. I think the reason—at least, the way I was articulating it—the reason that Paul said it, is I don’t like to go around saying, “Obviously, this is what God meant,” uh, unless an author tells me that’s what God meant. And so I guess what I’m saying—I was thinking more in terms of, “Is that what that passage means?” Uh, so, that…I was kind of having a side discussion. But I think I’m with you, Madison, as long as it’s beyond that specific context. How contextually determined does it need to be for you?

Pierce
I mean, generally, there is some kind of clue in the text itself. And so again, I think maybe the interplay between θεός and κύριος, like, gives a little bit of wiggle room there, because that can at least kind of gesture towards two persons—

Knight
Yeah.

Pierce
—even though, like, there is only one God and one Lord, and actually, we could, like, use either of those terms to refer to either of those persons—

Knight
Right.

Pierce
—and he will throughout the letter of…of…or, you know, the correspondence with the Corinthians. But um, yeah, I think—sorry, I lost my train of thought. But, um, yeah, I want to, uh, to see something a little more specific and just say that it’s not just general—um, like, you know, “Great. This works here, so let’s like, just go ‘free for all.’” Like, I don’t…I don’t see that typically, but—

Knight
Okay. Yeah. James, did you have—like, as somebody seeing and watching this unfold—

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yeah.

Knight
—do you have something to say to kind of us biblical scholars as we wander around?

Arcadi
[00:29:49] Well, I mean, just on that last point—I’m kind of curious about that…that need to see something in the previous text that would tip off Paul or a New Testament reader that that was something that would be up and coming. I guess I…I guess I feel like it’s a…maybe I’m a little more comfortable with just, like, a radical newness of the incarnation and pentecost, which, you know, maybe could have broken someone’s conceptual framework to…to, you know, open them up to new ways of thinking about how God  relates to, you know, humanity. And kind of rereading, you know, the Old Testament in light of new acts of God and that sort of thing—so I guess maybe I’m just kind of curious about the…the…the pull toward seeing that kind of a…needing that kind of opening in the previous text—needing that kind of opening in the conceptual framework—in order, if something is radically unique, as I think the incarnation and pentecost was, so what…what drives you toward that? Madison, you were kind of articulating that yourself mostly.

Pierce
Yeah, I’ll be brief because I don’t want to dominate this conversation by any means, but, I mean, I think the…that absolutely, like, the incarnation is radical. But, I mean, one of the radical things—it kind of comes back to my, like, really absurd snowball analogy—is that so many different figures are brought together in Christ. And so, it’s the fact that he can somehow be, you know, king and servant and all of these different things. And I certainly see places in Scripture where those…those things are brought together and pointed towards, but it’s the fact that all of those threads are woven together in the way that they are that’s so unexpected. And so individual readings of texts may or may not be surprising for the One who would come and redeem Israel, but, the full picture—yeah, absolutely. But this is where I should probably kick it over to the Pauline scholar, so…[KNIGHT LAUGHS] what’s Paul got to say?

Jipp
Yeah, if I’m…if I’m understanding you rightly, Madison, I guess I’m…what…the way I would generally articulate it—and it’s hard to do it with, like, a whole New Testament kind of theology in terms of what’s going on. But I do think, like, kind of as James was saying, when there is the…Jesus has come, and you do have these new acts of God—in terms of incarnation, suffering, crucifixion, resurrection, enthronement, pouring out of the spirit—that within a…a fairly short time, I do think that there is a radical, like, um, not…not…I don’t want to say, like, “discontinuous,” but just, like, a new—Paul has…Paul and the other New Testament authors are now, like, reflecting upon prior Scripture and tradition in a way that is, you know, “new”—not to say completely “discontinuous,” but is new and is surprising, because the Messiah just got crucified and now he’s raised…you know, like, raised and ascended at God’s right hand. That…that event to me, like, has to exert a lot of influence on how the…anybody, but certainly the New Testament authors, are going to read Scripture. And I’m not, you know…so I…maybe we’re on the same page there.

Pierce
Yeah.

Jipp
Um, I do think that—and maybe this is where I think I’m hearing I agree with you on…on this, in terms of…I do think that they’re not, then, offering up, uh, just sort of, like, silly, incoherent poor readings of the text—

Knight
Sure.

Jipp
—that are…that are there. You know, so…so yes, I do think, like, there is something with the θεός and κύριος that, you know, Paul has now—I’ll put it crudely—has sort of, you know, figured out, “Yahweh…whoever that…” you know, “my understanding of Him now has to make room for the God of Israel and Jesus together,” and that, then, often, I think, see as like…see Paul as functioning as a lens for him going back, and then giving a good…a good reading of the text. But no one would ever in a million years accept if you didn’t accept the prior premise that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel—

Pierce
Yep.

Jipp
—all of those events that I keep describing, um, and that I—this might be a topic for another conversation, where I’d be like, um…I’ll just leave it at that. Yeah. [KNIGHT LAUGHS]

Pierce
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I don’t know if Michelle or James…if you want to jump in there for…yeah…okay.

Arcadi
No—

Knight
I just…the one…the one thing I’ll say—

Pierce
Yeah.

Knight
I’m sorry, you gave us both a chance and we both were like, “No, it’s fine,” and then we both came back in. [LAUGHS] So I’m sorry!

Pierce
That’s great.

Knight
James, why don’t you go ahead?

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] What? I was totally handing it over to you! What was I going to say? [KNIGHT LAUGHS] I was going to say…No. Brilliant, brilliant. [LAUGHTER]—

Jipp
“I just jumped in. I’ve got more stuff I—

Arcadi
[LAUGHTER] As Paul sayeth, yeah. Um, yeah. Right. Nope…I…I lost my train of thought, so Michelle, you’d better say something pretty good.

Knight
Cool. [JIPP LAUGHS] No, the only thing I was going to say is, uh, of course you guys are talking about the Septuagint, so like, that’s a whole other thing.

Arcadi
WHOA!!

Jipp
Oh, yeah. How much time do we have here?

Pierce
Yeah.

Knight
[LAUGHS] I know! That’s why I was suddenly—I was going to say it, and then I was like, “What am I talking about? We have like two minutes!”—

Jipp
You’re like, “I’ve got a new…new topic!” [LAUGHTER]

Pierce
[00:35:00] Well, and I think that the…the question—this is actually the train of thought that flew away from me at some point earlier. The question that…that, um, remains to…to be answered is really, like, “What do we do now with Deuteronomy in light of this revelation”—

Knight
Yeah. Exactly.

Pierce
— “and how do we treat it faithfully?” I think that a lot of times when…like, when my work is…is poorly received by Old Testament scholars, for example, it’s because they are uncomfortable with the…the statements that I’m making. I’m…I’m actually trying to stress continuity more, I think, than my… [KNIGHT LAUGHS] a lot of my, um, colleagues. [LAUGHS]

Knight
[LAUGHS] Yeah.

Jipp
No, I feel like if they…if it’s poorly received, yours is poorly received, they would really hate mine [LAUGHTER], because I feel like yours…yours…you work harder to show continuity I feel like than what is probably natural to me at times, so…[LAUGHTER]

Pierce
My…yeah. So, I mean, I think that’s…I think that’s the conversation, but…oh, look at the time! [LAUGHTER] We can’t necessarily discuss the implications for the First Testament, so we’ll have to, uh, deal with that another time. So, uh—

Jipp
“Next time on Foreword: Septuagint, ethical challenges in the use of scripture…” [LAUGHTER]

Knight
Wow.

Arcadi
“And all of the bad Old Testament scholars who don’t receive Madison’s work.”

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Knight
Yikes!

Pierce
Shame, shame.

Jipp
Yeah, come on. Seriously, what, like, one time? And it was their fault, I hear. No…

Pierce
Shhh!!! [LAUGHS] Shhh.

Jipp
Edit.

Pierce
Um, so that’s just the Foreword! [LAUGHS] Um, yeah. This was, I hope, a helpful conversation for y’all. There are, of course, a lot of doors we’ve opened and have not been able to close, and questions that we have not been able to answer, um, but this is our reflections on how to use the biblical text, you know, in 30-ish minutes, um, so thank you for listening. Thank you to our producer, Curtis Pierce. Thank you to, uh, to Lauren, our faithful producer, and thanks to all of you for listening. I’m Madison Pierce.

Jipp
And I’m Josh Jipp.

Arcadi
I’m James Arcadi.

Knight
And I’m Michelle Knight.

Pierce
Thanks, y’all.

Outro
Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

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