Do You Agree with Jesus?

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Do You Agree with Jesus?

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Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus on the first resurrection Sunday, and they were distraught: “Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God” was dead (ESV, Luke 24:19). They “had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21), but now he was dead. Their grief touches us even across the years.

A stranger appears and walks besides them and berates them by saying, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken!” (Luke 25:26). And then Luke describes what the stranger, who was Jesus, said to them, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Jesus on the Emmaus road did not add to Scripture. He did not give them a new revelation like what we have from John in the book of Revelation, but rather he explained or interpreted the Scriptures to prove that the Old Testament requires that it be “necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory” (v. 26).

The disciples’ “hearts burn within” them as he “opened up…the Scripture” (v. 32), but the stranger made no claim to authority. All that he did was interpret the existing Bible for them to convince them that the Old Testament taught the suffering, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Because Jesus is not arguing from authority or adding to the Scriptures, Jesus’ interpretation is repeatable by others. The disciples and modern readers of the Bible can return to the Old Testament and find the necessity of Christ’s suffering and resurrection in its pages without the New Testament.

Our Lord takes his interpretation a step further when he appears to the disciples in verse 36 of Luke 24. Later in verse 46, he states, “It is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.”

You will search the Old Testament Scriptures in vain for, “the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.” But here is what you will find:

Psalm 16:10—“For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”

Isaiah 53:6, 9-10—“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all… And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

Hosea 6:1—“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.”

Our Lord Jesus is collating texts together that identify the people of God with the Messiah—through typology, the necessity of there being a payment for sinners’ rebellion, the promise of the resurrection, and the promise that God will raise his people up—all to mean “the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.” It is written “the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,” because Jesus said so, and because it is a necessary inference from Hosea 6:1, Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 53, and the rest of the Old Testament rightly understood.

If you had asked the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Do you believe the prophets?” They with great indignation would have said, “Of course!” But if you asked them, “Do you believe the Bible in the same way as ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’” they would have begun to hedge about. If you pressed them, “Do you interpret the Bible, the way Jesus did? Can you say, ‘It is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead?’” They would have to say, “No.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ describes those who refuse to interpret the Bible the way he does as, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Here is at least half-hearted belief if not absolute disbelief. Earlier in Luke, Jesus taught, “If they do no hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31), and so salvation is on the line.

Thus we come to a modern application that cuts at both liberals and conservatives. Our Lord Jesus obviously believes in the historical accuracy of the Old Testament from the creation account to Malachi. When Jesus argues with religious skeptics like the Sadducees, he argues against absolute physical uniformity (cf. “All Things Continue as They Were?”). As followers of Jesus, we must stand against the skepticism taught by neo-Darwinist, because the Bible rejects it and Jesus, Peter, and Paul deny us the liberty of interpreting Bible as if absolute physical uniformity was a fact.

Yet there is a subtle issue found among many conservative Christians which must be considered. They will accept Jesus and his Apostles’ handling of God’s Word as true, but not as the pattern of hermeneutics to be followed by Christians. So when Mathew writes, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’ ” (Matt. 2:15), we suddenly find talk about apostolic liberties with the text or revealed insights. There’s an almost embarrassed shuffling about because obviously Matthew’s quote and application of Hosea 11:1 couldn’t have been understood by the original reader and does not fit into many descriptions of a literal hermeneutic. But is this plea to apostolic revelation needed to explain Mathew’s use of Hosea or because we are not following Matthew’s method of interpretation?

The Old Testament uses typology without apology or explanation. For instance in Ezekiel 28:12, the prophet begins by describing the King of Tyre and immediately slides into describing Satan before the Fall and by verse 13 the King of Tyre was in “Eden, the Garden of God.”

The King of Tyre was not Satan, but he was of his “father the devil, and [his] will [was] to do [his] father’s desires” (John 8:44). The King of Tyre’s archetype was the devil and so a description of the King of Tyre included attributes of the Devil.

The Holy Spirit and Ezekiel expect their readers to recognize and handle typology framed by the opening books of Moses. God informed the Devil in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” And in Ezekiel 28:12 we find the enemy of the offspring of Eve, Israel, at enmity with the offspring of the Serpent, the King of Tyre. There are no surprises in Ezekiel 28 for the original reader who had read, understood, and believed Genesis 3. Satan was the father of lies and his offspring was just like him.

Since the Holy Spirit requires that Old Testament readers use and handle typology when speaking of an earthly king and Satan, why would the Holy Spirit and Hosea not expect the same method of interpretation concerning the Christ? Only the archetype is not the devil, but the promised seed that was to crush the head of the Serpent. In fact the promised seed on which the LORD was to lay “on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6) “although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (v. 9).

If we recognize the seed of Eve (Jesus) as the single perfect representative of the corporate seed of Eve (Israel), then Matthew has no new revelation in his usage of Hosea; he’s just doing exactly what Ezekiel did only he’s speaking of Jesus and the not the wicked one. Matthew’s interpretation is inspired, but it is not based on a specific revelation given to him, rather it is inherent to the original text and canon. According to Jesus to disagree with Mathew is simply to be “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.”

Jesus and his Apostles are not merely asking us to submit to their authority; they require that we interpret the Scriptures with them. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, James, and the rest, come to us in the text with arguments about what God’s word means and they want us to agree with the argument and then to follow their patterns of interpretation ourselves.

Paul commands the use of his method of interpretation and teaching explicitly in 2 Timothy 1:13, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” The word translated as “pattern” can also be translated as model, form or prototype. Paul’s command to Timothy is “follow the pattern of the sound words” and not merely submit to apostolic insight or authority.

Jesus and the Apostle did not leave us an exhaustive commentary of the teachings of Jesus or the Old Testament, and so we must follow their pattern of doctrine and interpretation. If modern expositors must plead special revelation for the inspired author in texts where Jesus and his Apostles do not, then we have become “slow of heart to believe.” If we will only submit to Christ’s hermeneutic but not ourselves follow the pattern laid down, then we are sitting among the “foolish ones.”

Jesus and the Holy Spirit come to every Bible believer with is this: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26). And the question we must ask ourselves is how do we read it? Do we interpret the Bible following the pattern laid down by Jesus and the Apostles or by some other means?

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"some" vs. "none" vs. "all"

Agreed: that Jesus rebuked the two on the Emmaus road for not accepting what the OT revealed about Christ. Also agreed: that the OT is full of beautiful and powerful predictions, types, and shadows of the life and work of our Savior.

The trouble comes in assuming that because some of what is in the OT about Christ is plain to readers, there must be a method that renders all of it clear, or that when Jesus spoke of what the OT revealed about Him, He was including everything the gospels and later epistles draw from it. Again, there's a some=all assumption there.

The age old problem with trying to emulate in every case the evangelists' and apostles' way of drawing Christological truth from the OT, is how do you know when an event or person who resembles Christ in some way is a "type" and that some revelation about Christ is actually intended?

The article itself reveals a bit of the problem. In reference to Matthew's use of Hosea, Shane notes that the original reader couldn't have seen the meaning there.

There’s an almost embarrassed shuffling about because obviously Matthew’s quote and application of Hosea 11:1 couldn’t have been understood by the original reader ...

So I wonder, could the two on the Emmaus road have understood the meaning there? Earlier in the essay we read of the Emmaus road event, that what Jesus pointed out could have been seen by readers.

Because Jesus is not arguing from authority or adding to the Scriptures, Jesus’ interpretation is repeatable by others. The disciples and modern readers of the Bible can return to the Old Testament and find the necessity of Christ’s suffering and resurrection in its pages without the New Testament.

So are we talking about Christological truth that is clear in the OT or truth that is not? There seems to be a difference between what Matthew did with Hosea 11:1 and what Jesus rebuked the Emmaus two for failing to do.

So my view: the evangelists and apostles sometimes point out OT meaning that is there for all to see, but sometimes reveal meaning there that few if any could have seen.

In any case, what they intend to reveal to us is the truths they speak of, not the method by which they arrived at them. After all, Scripture reveals that they were inspired and we're not (not to mention they're apostles and we're not)--so drawing a distinction between what they could do and what we can and should do is not arbitrary.

Returning to the old problem: are we free to say any and every item in OT that resembles a feature of Jesus' life and ministry is indeed a type? If not, how do we distinguish what is from what isn't?

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A Radical Shift

The deeper I go into my historical studies, the more I appreciate just how much of a radical shift was the Reformed insistence on taking only the literal/historical meaning of the text. The apparent ease with which the New Testament authors employ various forms of non-literal reading, especially when they are not trying to argue a point against opponents but simply offering edification, is matched and even extended by the Church Fathers. If I can generalize, most of the early exegetes believed that the real meaning of Scripture is the Christian or allegorical reading, and that this reading is not arbitrary but in some sense connected to the literal text of the passage and to the creedal structure of the Christian faith. Augustine's De doctrina christiana is an excellent example of this approach, combining an exegetical focus on love with specific allegorical techniques, such as Tyconius' rules. 

Toward the end of the patristic era and into the Middle Ages, rules for interpretation became clarified. Some, such as Peter Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor, advocated a three-fold approach to Scripture. For them, Scripture as a whole has three meanings: first, the literal or historical meaning, which is a record of the events and teachings; second, the allegorical, which corresponds to the doctrinal and specifically Christological import of Scripture's events and teachings; third, the tropological or moral, which delineates the process of Christian transformation that is engendered by those words. An even more popular method was known as quadriga (literally, a chariot drawn by four horses). Quadriga can be understood by a poem popularized by Nicholas of Lyra:

Littera gesta docet

Quid credas allegoria

Moralis quid agas

Quo tendas anagogia.

[The letter teaches what has been

Allegory, what your faith is in

The moral acts which you must do

Anagogy, where you're headed to.]

 

This system was in use up to Luther, who did not entirely reject non-literal interpretation but focused it in a more consistently Christocentric law-gospel dialectic. Erasmus too, for all of his humanist credentials, insisted that the real use of Scripture was found in allegory (early emphasis) or the moral sense (later emphasis). It was the French and Swiss reformers who adopted the most reductionist view, as they did in most other religious domains, that the literal sense alone was valid for Christians.  We might say that Dispensationalism, at least in its claims, is the most extreme hermeneutical system yet made along these lines. Evangelicals are now in a somewhat awkward position. Descendants of the Reformed tradition, but effectively culturally isolated for a long time by their dominance in America, they are now coming back into contact both with other traditions that never abandoned non-literal reading strategies and with the Christian past. Correspondingly, there is some friction. One evangelical theologian who has some nuance here, attempting both to honor his own tradition and to appropriate insights from his broader Christian heritage, is Kevin Vanhoozer. He has two contributions in the book Reading Scripture with the Church. The first is a masterful essay on hermeneutics based on a reflection on Philemon, but the second is entitled "Four Theological Faces of Biblical Interpretation," a short meditation on what sort of plurality an evangelical reader ought to be able to recognize in Scripture. I highly recommend it. 

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A Less Radical Shift

I would divide literalism into three general categories—Historical literalism which is when the reader attempts to discern the authorial intent by understanding the genre, grammar, vocabulary, as well as the immediate  and canonical context. The second form of literalism is a first sight reading promoted by some Christians but developed by Epicurus and popularized in modernity by Spinoza, and finally dispensational literalism.

Historical literalism and Dispensational literalism both use a variety of hermeneutical strategies to discern God’s intent in the passage.  Dispensational literalism tends to use the rhetoric of Epicurean literalism without the destructive outcomes because the users tend to be outcome based in their literalism.  In other words Dispensationalists tend to be first sight literalist when it defends their core presuppositions, but employ other hermeneutical strategies when dealing with texts not related to the division between Israel and the Church or the millennium.

In Jesus’ communication to the disciples in the Gospels, we see the disciples misemploying both first sight literalism (Mark 8:14-18) about the bread and the allegorical strategy when considering Christ’s prophecy of his death.

What Jesus and the inspired Apostles want from us is to follow the patterns that they have laid down and not all the strategies employed in church history. I strongly support the exploration of the hermeneutics’ of Jesus and the Apostles as normative, but believe that we should only accept those strategies in church history that follow the model of Christ. No school or age outside of the inspired canon provides us an inspired method of interpretation. 

The argument that I am attempting to make is that Jesus and the Apostles are following the pattern of historical literalism.  They use a variety of strategies to interpret the text based on authorial intent.  Their interpretations are repeatable through comparing Scripture to Scripture. 

Strategies of interpretation that lead to non-repeatable outcomes either come from revelation or are merely personal.   Merely personal interpretation—Balam’s donkey teaches us that Baptist pastors are no better than a donkey, because a donkey saved a man by talking—may edify the church through pious thoughts, but they are non-repeatable and of no value in developing doctrine. Allegory and the like may be helpful for illustration, but even in the Middle Ages it was rarely employed to develop doctrine or a normative truth from the text of Scripture.

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Aaron Blumer wrote:   The

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

The article itself reveals a bit of the problem. In reference to Matthew's use of Hosea, Shane notes that the original reader couldn't have seen the meaning there.

There’s an almost embarrassed shuffling about because obviously Matthew’s quote and application of Hosea 11:1 couldn’t have been understood by the original reader ...

Mr. Blummer, I was attempting to communicate the "embarrassed shuffling" of modern expositors rather than the original audience who I believe had the data and the interpretive tools necessary to understand the text as handled by Matthew. For something to be a prophecy to be fulfilled, in the sense meant by Matthew (cf. 1:22-23), it must predicate the future. But I don't think one can call something prophetic that does not predicate the future to the original audience as well as the audience after the fulfillment. 

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names would be helpful

To whom are you referring in your article as the ones who shuffle their feet and explain the Luke passage as special revelation rather than interpreting it as literally, historically accurate? I just looked at four different commentaries (conservative, not liberal, and one was by a dispensationalist to boot) and all of them explained that passage as Jesus citing the O.T.

You, in general, referred to "liberals", "conservatives", "Neo-Darwinists", "Christian conservatives", and "modern expositors" in your article as people who employ an incorrect hermeneutic regarding this passage, but since there were no footnotes I'm not sure who exactly you're referencing. I'm particularly interested in what conservatives you are referring to.

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Thanks

Thanks for the clarification Shane. More to say but no time at present. Brenda, I think Shane has mostly Dispensationalists in view for the main thrust of the piece. Most of us dispies do not believe we can really extract a hermeneutical method for handling the OT from every case we find of it in the evangelists and apostles.

Shane, you mentioned dispies dropping literal hermeneutic when it doesn't fit presuppositions. It might be interesting to bounce around some examples... though it's famously hard to tell when one is defending a presupposition vs. deriving a supposition, if you know what I mean. Of course, we'd say that the literal sense is default and you look for figurative meaning when other clear texts (usually taken literally themselves) require a figurative interp. (or in cases of genre or common sense, where it's pretty easy to see poetry or figures of speech are in use).

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Here's One from Ryrie:

Charles Ryrie lists out fundamental characteristics of Dispensationalism: (1)Israel and the Church are kept distinct, and (2)“This distinction between Israel and the church is born out of a system of hermeneutics that is usually called literal interpretation,” Dispensationalism: Revised and Updated (Chicago: Moody Press, 2007), 47.

And Ryrie defines literalism this way: “interpretation that gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking or thinking” [Ibid, 91]
So here is an example from Ryrie applying this definition:  “The prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Christ—His birth, His rearing, His ministry, His death, His resurrection—were all fulfilled literally” (Ibid,  92.) Ryrie provides us a clear example to test his definition of literalism: all of the prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ “were all fulfilled literally.”

Here is one such text, Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Ryrie states, “An individual from the woman’s seed (Jesus Christ) will deal a death blow to Satan’s head at the cross while Satan will cause Christ to suffer (‘bruise his heel’),” Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986), 205.

As far as I am able to ascertain, there is not a single point of this prophecy which  follows Ryrie’s basic definition of literalism: “gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking or thinking.” Satan being sent to hell is read into “bruise your head,” and Christ’s suffering on the cross is read into “bruise his heel.” The word serpent in the wider context is read as Satan, and “her offspring” is read as Jesus Christ. These readings can be defended on figurative and typological grounds, but not on any form of literal or normal readings.
Genesis 3 is a particularly helpful test case, because the apostles never comment directly on its fulfillment. Ryrie’s interpretation is then developed only from his own hermeneutic and not from apostolic comment. 

Ryrie also tells us the necessary outcome of his hermeneutics: “The nonliteralist is the nonpremillennialist, the less specific and less consistent literalists are covenant premillennialist and the progressive dispensationalist, and the consistent literalist is a dispensationalist,”  (102).
What becomes apparent from the above is that “literalism” to Ryrie is the theological outcome of Dispensationalism. If a hermeneutical system does not come to Dispensational outcomes, than it’s not literalism. The practical consequence of this is that Ryrie’s literalism might best be defined as any orthodox interpretation of the Bible that maintains Dispensationalism. 

What he apparently means by “literal interpretation” is an interpretation of the Bible that holds to orthodox beliefs and keeps Israel and the Church distinct. In other words, the separation of Israel and the Church is a primary belief policy in the Dispensational interpretive system. And it’s a potentially valid presupposition that works itself out as Dispensational theology with a mixture of literal and typological interpretations and historical orthodoxy. But can’t be proved by pleading “literalism” over and against another interpretive system like the "historical literalism" I mention above. 

 

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Luke 24

Do you have a Ryrie example (or example by anyone) specifically relative to Luke 24? The first half of the article is used to build your case using Luke 24. Yes, it is expanded more generally in the second half of the article, but my question regarded the first half. Sorry I wasn't clear about that. I get that you're wanting to point out shortcomings of dispensationalists, but do you have something specific to Luke 24 (especially the "three days" prophecy)?

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Ryrie

As far as I am able to ascertain, there is not a single point of this prophecy which  follows Ryrie’s basic definition of literalism: “gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking or thinking.” Satan being sent to hell is read into “bruise your head,” and Christ’s suffering on the cross is read into “bruise his heel.” The word serpent in the wider context is read as Satan, and “her offspring” is read as Jesus Christ. These readings can be defended on figurative and typological grounds, but not on any form of literal or normal readings.

I'm really not seeing the problem... but I'm familiar with lots of folks who do. Did a lot of reading about it seminary. The common misunderstanding seems to be over how Ryrie and other dispensationalists use "literal" and "normal." "Normal usage" certainly includes poetry and normal figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche and so on. In normal language, context and genre let you know that a figure is involved.

Further, the Gen.3.15 case is helpful in another way: I think most disp's would agree that the full meaning of the text is not evident in just reading it. However, the full meaning discovered later is entirely consistent with it. There is no reinterpreting or turning around the original meaning.

What dispensationalists object to... well Paul's article that posted Tuesday is a good example, though it's focused on the legitimate use of the term "progressive revelation." The chief objection is to turning large swaths of OT promises into symbols with symbolic fulfillments when there is nothing in the context to indicate they are symbols, much to indicate they aren't, and NT evidence they aren't (though, admittedly, with enough determination, the NT evidence can be read the opposite way). The result is that they have a retro-actively altered meaning that is not consistent w/what would have been originally understood.

So each side sees the other as having presuppositions that determine where they see symbolism and don't see symbolism. Is it belief in the overarching covenant of Grace and so on or belief in the distinction between Israel and the church? Each side claims to derive their views from Scripture, not read their views into it, while seeing the other as reading into rather than deriving from.

But I don't think that merits dismissing the whole debate. It's certainly possible to weigh evidence and reasoning for and against each approach's claims and also see strengths and weaknesses in one's own case. A little bit of analytical distance helps.

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A few points:First, we don't

A few points:

First, we don't actually know what the NT hermeneutic was, or how they did what they did, or even if there was only one. Typology was not the only method of interpretation or use of the OT. To see this, one need only look at the wide variety of explanations about how the NT uses the OT (multiple hermeneutics, in a sense). Even among people who agree with you, there is no uniformity of analysis (confusion about what it was or how they did what they did). A survey of the writings on NT use of the OT shows that there are a variety of explanations for various texts. Why? Because it is not clear how they did what they did, and it is not always clear what they did.

Concerning typology, it is interesting that almost everyone agrees that typology has three parts: historical reality, heightening, and divine intent. It is the last one that seems to get short shrift. How do we know divine intent unless it is recorded for us in the Scripture? That's the problem, IMO, with much typology today. There is nothing but imagination behind it. It may be right, but how would we know?

It is also seems generally agreed that typology is not the result of exegesis. It cannot be determined from the text. That means it is not an exegetical practice, but either by inspiration, or later analysis of subsequent events. But once we identify typology that is not divinely corroborated, then we are conjecturing without divine authority. Again, it may be right, but how would we know?

So when Jesus confronts the two on the road to Emmaus, he is not rebuking them because they didn't see some typology or deeper meaning that wasn't there in the text. He is rebuking them because they did not believe what was clearly there--that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise again. Jesus was claiming to be the one the OT pointed to in all its parts (not necessarily all its passages), not just in one part, and they should have been able to see that.

Second, the fact that something "couldn’t have been understood by the original reader" of the OT seems more significant than is being admitted here. The OT was written for the purpose of creating belief and action in response. That means that they were to be able to believe and do something in response to the text. Those texts had meaning long before they were used in the NT, and the original reader was supposed to believe and act long before the NT said anything. I think needs more attention.

Third, the description of dispensationalism is wanting, and the interaction with Genesis 3:15 from an allegedly dispensational view is odd. The author appears to confuse literal or normal with literalistic, and try to assert that dispensationalists don't see any type of figurative usage. That simply isn't true. Ryrie's statement, and multitudes of others, have been clear that the proper hermeneutic treats language normally--figures are figures. To read "bruise his heel" as some sort of typological language not normal. When the Saturday sports cast announces that Team A crushed Team B, no one expects that Team B is lying in little pieces all over hte field. Why? Because we all understand normal use of language.

It is a complex discussion, though I am persuaded that the position taken here (which seems to mirror very closely that of Clowney and his disciples) is too superficial and is too inadequate to deal with the issues.

Which leads me to conclude that your real question is not whether we agree with Jesus but whether or not we agree with you. To invoke agreement with Jesus is to take a rather large jump that Jesus did what did you think he did. I am not persuaded at all that that is the case. I think there are many reasons not to think that.

 

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What becomes apparent from

What becomes apparent from the above is that “literalism” to Ryrie is the theological outcome of Dispensationalism. If a hermeneutical system does not come to Dispensational outcomes, than it’s not literalism.

I wonder if you have not missed his point here. "Literalism" is not the theological outcome of dispensationalism, but the foundational hermeneutic. It is not where you arrive, but where you begin. Before you understand anything from the words, you must first determine what you will do with the words. Ryrie's answer (and everyone's answer in most of their communication) is that you treat them normally. What you are attributing to dispensationalism seems to be the "literalistic" use of language, but that has been rejected long ago. Here are some rather old quotes on that:

This recognition of a metaphorical style is not to be thought of as a return to allegorization, nor is it a “spiritualizing” of the passage. When a writer employs metaphor he is to be understood metaphorically and his metaphorical meaning is his literal meaning: that is to say, it is the truth he wishes to convey. The term “literal” stands strictly as the opposite of “figurative,” but in modern speech it often means “real,” and it is used this way by those who want to be sure that they know what the writer really and originally meant. In this sense a metaphorical saying is “literally” true. … Thus a metaphorical statement is “literally” true but cannot be “literalistically” true. The “literal” meaning, then, is what the particular writer intended, and although he used metaphor, no one familiar with the language in which he expressed himself could reasonably misunderstand him (Kevan, “The Principle of Interpretation,” in Revelation and the Bible, ed Henry, p. 294).

Dispensationalists claim that their principle of hermeneutics is that of literal interpretation. This means interpretation that gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking, or thinking. It is sometimes called grammatical-historical interpretation since the meaning of each word is determined by grammatical and historical considerations. The principle might also be called normal interpretation since the literal meaning of the words is the normal approach to their understanding in all languages. … Symbols, figures of speech, and types are all interpreted plainly in this method, and they are in no way contrary to literal interpretation. After all, the very existence of any meaning for a figure of speech depends on the reality of the literal meaning of the terms involved (Ryrie, Dispensationalism, p. 80).

The literalist (so called) is not one who denies that figurative language, that symbols, are used in prophecy, nor does he deny that great spiritual truths are set forth therein; his position is, simply, that the prophecies are to be normally interpreted (i.e., according to the received laws of language) as any other utterances are interpretation—that which is manifestly figurative being so regarded (Lange, Revelation, cited in Ryrie, p. 81).

Ryrie is saying, I think, that if you do not arrive at dispensational outcome (to use your word), then you did not use "literalism." You used something else.

What he apparently means by “literal interpretation” is an interpretation of the Bible that holds to orthodox beliefs and keeps Israel and the Church distinct. In other words, the separation of Israel and the Church is a primary belief policy in the Dispensational interpretive system.

Again, perhaps you have misread this. You already cited what he means by "literal interpretation" above, but here you go and attribute another meaning to him (even though you cited his own words). The separation (actually fundamental distinction) between Israel and the Church is not primary; it is secondary. It flows out of the the hermeneutic. His point is that if you start with the idea that language has normal usage and you read the Bible that way, you arrive at dispensationalism. You can only avoid it by using language in a way that it is not normally used.

 

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Mon, 3/7/11
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a few things

If you had asked the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Do you believe the prophets?” They with great indignation would have said, “Of course!” But if you asked them, “Do you believe the Bible in the same way as ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’” they would have begun to hedge about. If you pressed them, “Do you interpret the Bible, the way Jesus did? Can you say, ‘It is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead?’” They would have to say, “No.”

Perhaps the question that gets to the heart of the matter and fits the context would be: "Do you believe the prophets the way Jesus believes the prophets?" Multiple times Jesus told the disciples (as he taught them from the O.T.) that he would suffer, die, and rise again the third day (see Mark 8, 9, 10; Mt. 16, 20) and multiple times we are told that the disciples either did not understand or did not believe. Peter actually spoke up one of those time and revealed his disbelief. After Christ's crucifixion they were reminded that  he would rise again the third day as he had said and they responded with something like a "yes, I remember him saying that" yet they still didn't believe. In Luke 24, Jesus chided the two on the road to Emmaus for their unbelief. Later in that chapter we are told that they began to understand after Jesus expounded the O.T. to them once again.

I asked for an example of a dispensationalist who pleads "special revelation" regarding Jesus' prophecy regarding his resurrection after three days, because it has been my experience that dispensationalists do not claim there was special revelation. When the N.T. says Jesus taught from the Law, Psalms, and Prophets, a dispensationalist recognizes that as the O.T. Regarding the fact that there is no exact quote from the O.T. mentioning that Jesus would rise in three days, it has been my experience that a dispensationalist also points to a collating of O.T. texts to show the prophecy. One of those O.T. texts they point to is Jonah, because Jesus himself pointed to Jonah (as we see in Matthew 12:40) regarding the "three days."

One last thing:

If we recognize the seed of Eve (Jesus) as the single perfect representative of the corporate seed of Eve (Israel), then Matthew has no new revelation in his usage of Hosea; he’s just doing exactly what Ezekiel did only he’s speaking of Jesus and the not the wicked one. Matthew’s interpretation is inspired, but it is not based on a specific revelation given to him, rather it is inherent to the original text and canon.

To say that Matthew's interpretation was inspired (rather than the actual words) struck me as odd. Scripture is not a collection of men's interpretations (even in part); it is a collection of God's inspired words (as a whole). Just because Matthew repeated something from Hosea, doesn't mean that the repeated words weren't inspired. Maybe I'm reading more into that than is there, but it struck me as odd to make a claim for an inspired interpretation, but not inspired words simply because it was repeated from the O.T.. When Matthew tells us Jesus died, it's not his inspired interpretation of what he may have read from Mark. Matthew's actual words about Jesus' death are inspired, regardless that it appears anywhere else in Scripture by another author.

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