Did Jesus “Do What the Bible Says”? Some thoughts on Jesus, Biblical Formalism, and Problem of Indeterminacy
Matt's Theoprudence blog at the above link discusses two types of interpretation of Biblical text: formalist and purposive. The prime example that illustrates this problem of interpretation concerns Jesus healing on the Sabbath. From a formalist approach, Jesus clearly broke the rule that prohibits work being performed on the Sabbath. However, in one of the texts, it is said that he says that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not mankind for the Sabbath. This implies that the rule is not absolute but has lots of wiggle room based on an inferred purpose of the rule.
Since early adulthood, in a break with my traditional conservative Reformation and Restoration Movement roots, I have come down on the purposive side of things. I would give a hat tip to Professor Andy T. Richie for aid in starting me down that path. He took us through the book of Matthew in the Life of Christ class my sophomore year at Harding. How can one think otherwise after a close reading of the Sermon on the Mount?
For a humorous application of the formalist approach see my daughter-in-law's blog post here. She is in law school and the interpretation of laws is somewhat important in that occupation.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
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