Herman Ootix is a high-maintenance guy

Herman Ootix (hermeneutics) definitely requires our attention.

The hermeneutical process, of course, is all about interpretation — interpretation of a text by a reader or hearer.

Image from http://www.postost.net/lexicon/hermeneutics-pictures
Image from http://www.postost.net/lexicon/hermeneutics-pictures

An important-yet low-level hermeneutical concern is seen in this quotation:

The question of [ ___________ ] has been bandied about so much and now carries so much baggage with it that it has become nearly impossible simply to ask, “What does the Bible say on the matter?”  It is hard to know the difference anymore between what the Bible says about the subject and what we have already concluded about the subject.  It is like being in a room with loud music while trying to carry on a conversation with somebody. After a while you simply want to turn off the music so you can hear the person you are talking to!

–  Gary Collier, “A Models Approach:  A Revolution for Approaching Important Topics,” in Reading the Bible like Jesus and Paul, 2008

What Gary speaks of here (the specific question is immaterial; he could’ve made the same statement about many other matters) is the tendency to make the “word of the Lord” into “the word of us.”  Please go . . .

here
and here (more substance)
and here (a few lines buried deep within the overall rant)

. . . for prior mentions of the tendency to reinterpret God’s word, morphing it into our own.

Although the proclivity to paste Bible “verses” around (e.g., on bumper stickers and walls and church bulletins and signs), tends to come from sincere, devoted hearts, it is often a manifestation of shallow, hermeneutically weak practice.  Even (especially?) preachers and high-profile Bible study gurus can be guilty of this same kind of practice when they call into service isolate Bible “verses” by flinging them willy-nilly into new contexts without respect for the original contexts.  After so many years of using something in Galatians 6, Romans 8, Philippians 2, Acts 2, etc., to mean what we want it to mean, it’s difficult to filter out the loud music so we can hear the conversation God was originally having with some of His people.  (Exceptions might be certain uses of Proverbs and Psalms, and other texts that tend to stand alone in smaller bits.)

As I am able, I much prefer to dig into a larger context, attempting to discern the original meaning to the original readers . . . only thereafter attempting to apply the text to the current day.

Please examine these further thoughts on exegeting biblical texts, in order to stimulate your own thinking.  Here, I am not saying I know how to do this very well.  I’m only saying we all could benefit 1) from recognizing when exegesis is not being done well, and then 2) from trying to do it better.

  1. https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/journalism-and-exegesis/ (on context)

  1. https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/commencing-exegesis/ (a brief encouraging example, with links to definitions)

  1. https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/exegesis-non-ad-hominem/  (thoughts on a non-exegetically sound essay, with emphasis on inference and presumption)

  2. https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/in-praise-of-exegesis-999a/ (an ode to the exegetical ideal, with suggested resources)

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2 thoughts on “Herman Ootix is a high-maintenance guy

  1. godschildrenorg 08/05/2013 / 3:41 pm

    If I may be “legalistic” for a few seconds…your article and all suggested references should be required reading for anyone who wishes to profess to be an intentional follower of Christ. What would happen if everyone came to The Word with their mind open to seeing, hearing what God intended the writers to convey to us??? BTW, thanks for the 4 links to your discussion of exegeting biblical texts.

    Like

    • Brian Casey 08/05/2013 / 4:01 pm

      Ha — if that’s legalism, I’m all for it. 🙂 I always appreciate your supportive views — and your probing ones, too! 🙂 And the frequent mentions of being an intentional follower are most welcome….

      Like

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