Jim West blogged this interesting article by Gerd Luedemann who if I remember correctly was the professor involved in that lawsuit over theological posts in universities. Gerd wrote a little missive over at Bible and Interpretation about how historical critical study has saved us from ourselves. It is full of little gems like:
But today both Luther and the New Testament authors have become strangers to us. The simple reason for this is that all of their exegeses and formulations presuppose an obsolete and mythological worldview that injects an ineradicable virus of outdated belief systems into the texts.
Gerd gives some examples of how New Testament authors interpret passages from the Old Testament in ways that we never would. This isn’t exactly news to anyone, but I suppose Gerd can be given a modicum of credit for asking the question that many of us have asked ourselves: How do we reconcile the New Testament use of the Old given the way we do exegesis? Gerd’s answer is to say we can’t and tell the apostles they are wrong. I don’t see anything wrong with delineating some behavior as appropriate for apostles that is not appropriate for us. That includes oddly interpreting Old Testament passages. Gerd basically assumes the superiority of historical critical interpretation then says “Aha! Just as I thought. The results of this method are better” seemingly without realizing that he is using the same criteria to judge superiority as he is to produce the result. Frankly, I don’t see any reason to think historical critical exegesis is superior to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Gerd finishes with this delightful nugget of wisdom:
Since the term “enlightenment” refers to the individual or collective employment of the human intellect, then it must be clear that the christological interpretation of scripture practiced by the churches for two millennia is as anachronistic as the Ptolemaic model of the universe, and that early Christians distorted many Old Testament texts to make them point to Christ. Yet more troubling is the fact that while their over-zealousness may be excused on the grounds of ignorance, many today similarly misuse the scriptures to perpetuate an ancient hoax.
Having eaten from the tree of historical knowledge, we are no longer able to take seriously an interpretation of the Old Testament that leads to Christ. All glory, laud, and honor to the founders of historical criticism for liberating us from the christological madhouse.
Ex-anythings are so droll. The meaning of scripture is not found in its dissection. The historical-critical method is useful, but ultimately as Bonhoeffer points out it leaves you with nothing but rubble. The Scriptures are revelatory solely and completely by the power of the Holy Spirit. Gerd Luedemann may be able to see the context and setting of a passage be it New Testament or Old, but he can’t see Christ without the Holy Spirit. Luedemann has seen his own blindness and called it superior, truly if that is not the foolish wisdom of the world, I don’t know what is.
P.S. I know I have been a bit sarcastic and poked fun at Prof. Luedemann a bit, but let me say I do respect him as a scholar and recognize and affirm that his knowledge far exceeds my own. That said, I really do not like his presuppositions.