Tradition and Interpretation

By G. W. Anderson | Go to book overview
Bibles. When polemic and counter-polemic enter in, as in the Cyprianic Testimonia aduersus Iudaeos ( third century A.D.) and the rabbinical care to exclude as inadmissible interpretations which, however time-honoured they might be, now lent themselves to Christian arguments, a great gulf was fixed which persisted until recent times and the adoption of the historical method by Jewish and Christian scholars. The adoption of the historical method does not exclude the validity of a sensus plenior, an interpretative tradition growing up generation by generation in communities for which the Old Testament is not only a sacred book but a perennial wellspring of spiritual life and refreshment. What Dorothy L. Sayers has said about Dante may be said even more emphatically, mutatis mutandis, about the Old Testament:

A phrase used by Dante not only contains and is illumined by the meanings it derived from Virgil or the Vulgate: it, in its turn, illuminates Virgil and the Vulgate and gives new meaning to them. It not only passes on those meanings, supercharged with Dante's own meaning, to Tennyson and Landor, to Rossetti and Yeats, to Williams and Eliot and Pound, but it receives back from them the reflected splendore of their own imaginative use of it.30

But to have real validity, any such sensus plenior must be firmly rooted in the primary meaning of the text, established by the historical method.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Theology
ALBIRIGHT W. F. From the Stone Age to Christianity, 2nd edn., New York, 1957.
ALT A. Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel, 3 vols., Munich, 1953, 1959, 1964; ETr of a selection, Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, Oxford, 1966.
____________________
30
D. L. Sayers, The Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement, London, 1963, p. 272. From what has been said above, it will be evident that the earliest instances of sensus plenior are found within the Old Testament itself. To give another example: when pre-exilic 'royal' psalms were incorporated in the hymn-book of the Second Temple, they inevitably meant something different to worshippers then (and since) from what they had meant under the monarchy.

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Tradition and Interpretation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction- Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Study xiii
  • I- The Textual Transmission of the Old Testament 1
  • Bibliography 29
  • II- Semitic Philology and the Interpretation of the Old Testament 31
  • III- Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Their Bearing on the Old Testament 65
  • Bibliography 94
  • IV- Pentateuchal Problems 96
  • Bibliography 122
  • V- Old Testament Historiography 125
  • VI- Prophecy and the Prophetic Literature 163
  • Bibliography 187
  • VII- Apocalyptic 189
  • Bibliography 212
  • VIII- Wisdom 214
  • Bibliography 234
  • IX- The Psalms and Israelite Worship 238
  • Bibliography 272
  • X- The History of Israel in the Pre-Exilic Period 274
  • Bibliography 318
  • XI- The History of Israel in the Exilic and Post-Exilic Periods 320
  • Bibliography 349
  • XII- The History of Israelite Religion 351
  • Bibliography 383
  • XIII- The Theology and Interpretation of the Old Testament 385
  • Bibliography 414
  • Index of Authors 429
  • General Index 439
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