Wanted: reference for exegetical history: historical-grammatical criticism

Page 1 of 1 (7 items)
This post has 6 Replies | 1 Follower

Posts 30179
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Oct 13 2019 8:58 PM

I was doing a bit of research on historical-grammatical criticism when I came across a statement that could not possibly be true unless I modified my understanding of what historical-grammatical criticism is. So I went looking for a resource either specifically on historical-grammatical criticism  or a history of interpretation that included a significant chapter on historical-grammatical criticism. I don't appear to have one. Any suggestions that will meet my need?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 151
Jerome Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 14 2019 7:51 AM

The first resource that comes to my mind is Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, pages 173 and 203 of my print edition. Chapter VI, "The Grammatico-Historical Sense," pp. 203-210. I have this resource in Logos as well, but it is easier to just pull my hard copy off the nearby shelf of works on hermeneutics.

Posts 338
Lonnie Spencer | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 14 2019 9:58 AM

MJ. Smith:

I was doing a bit of research on historical-grammatical criticism when I came across a statement that could not possibly be true unless I modified my understanding of what historical-grammatical criticism is. So I went looking for a resource either specifically on historical-grammatical criticism  or a history of interpretation that included a significant chapter on historical-grammatical criticism. I don't appear to have one. Any suggestions that will meet my need?

I don't know how much this will help you. It is only in outline form, but I thought the historical section was interesting and may help with a few clues point you in a direction you want to look at. This is from the book "You can Understand the Bible Seminar" by Bob Utley.

THE HISTORICAL-GRAMMATICAL OR LITERAL METHOD


    I.      Its History and Development of the Two ancient Christian Methods of Interpretation
      A.      The Jewish Precursor
         1.      There was a slight tendency among the Palestinian Rabbis to make the ancient laws applicable to their day by means of allegory (cf. Feidman, The Parables and Similes of the Rabbis).
         2.      Philo
           a.      He (20 B.C.–A.D. 55) was an intellectual Jewish Platonist from Alexandria, Egypt.
           b.      He learned his method from the allegorical tradition of the Greeks. They had wed the religious writings of Homer to the philosophical and historical writings by the use of allegory. The Iliad and Odyssey by Homer were used to teach logic, ethics, and science. Philo was heavily influenced by Plato, Pythagoras and possibly by Aristobulus (160 B.C.) another Alexandrian Jew.
           c.      He was not influential among the Palestinian rabbis because he lived in the Diaspora and was not a rabbi.
           d.      He found hidden philosophical meaning in the Old Testament by purposely disregarding the historical setting and the intent of the original biblical author’s message.
           e.      He allegorized the Old Testament passages if:
             (1)      The text spoke of that which seemed unworthy of God (an anthropomorphism)
             (2)      The text contained any perceived inconsistencies (exclusivism of Israel)
             (3)      The text contained any perceived historical problems (according to him)
             (4)      The text could be allegorically applied to his Greek mind set and culture
           f.      He attempted to remove the exclusiveness of Israel and the physical aspects of YHWH (i.e. anthropomorphism following Aristobulus of Alexandria)
           g.      He allegorized the Old Testament in an attempt to make it relevant to his day and culture.
           h.      He believed that God spoke to humans supremely through the Jewish Scriptures but also by His Spirit through the Greek philosophers.
      B.      The Development of The Allegorical School in Alexandria, Egypt
         1.      Philo’s basic approach to interpretation was utilized by early Christian leaders at Alexandria in interpreting the Old and New Testaments.
         2.      Clement’s (Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 150–216) different levels of interpretation from the least significant to the most significant are:
           a.      The historical or literal sense (least important)
           b.      The doctrinal sense (moral, religious, and theological)
           c.      The prophetic or typological sense
           d.      The philosophical sense (uses historical events and persons as representations of philosophical truths and categories)
           e.      The mystical or allegorical sense
         3.      Origen (A.D. 182–251) continued this basic approach:
           a.      He reacted to the uneducated literalism of popular theology of his day by finding symbolism in everything.
           b.      He arbitrarily combined Prov. 22:20–21 with 1 Thess. 5:23 to form a hermeneutical principle.
           c.      With this combination of Scriptures he asserted that every text had three levels of interpretation.
             (1)      a “bodily” or literal sense (for the common man)
             (2)      a “soulish” or moral sense (for leaders and merchants)
             (3)      a “spiritual” or mystical/allegorical sense (for the “pneumatikoi” who have time, insight, and interest)
         4.      The allegorical method of interpretation focused on the symbolic use of numbers:
           a.      The alphabets of ancient near eastern languages were also used for their numbering system: alpha = 1, beta = 2, etc. Therefore, words had numerical values. Words with equivalent values could be substituted for each other in Bible passages.
           b.      Numbers also had symbolic meaning themselves (this is also true of the OT):
             (1)      1, 3—God
             (2)      4—the earth
             (3)      6—human imperfection
             (4)      7—divine perfection
             (5)      10—completion
             (6)      12—organization
         5.      Ambrose’s (A.D. 340–379) allegory influenced Augustine (A.D. 354–430) in his four levels of interpretation, the last being the best. Augustine used 2 Cor. 3:6 as a proof-text for his practical depreciation of the literal sense.
           a.      the literal—teaches historical events
           b.      the allegorical—what you should believe
           c.      the moral—what you should do
           d.      the mystical—what you should hope
         6.      An example of Augustine’s four-fold method is “Jerusalem” in Gal. 4:22ff.
           a.      literal—the city
           b.      allegorically—the church of Christ
           c.      moral—the human soul
           d.      mystical—the heavenly city which is mother of us all
         7.      See Augustine’s theory of hermeneutics was very different from his practice. In some ways his theory of interpretation was very similar to the principles of the literal school but his practice tended to be allegorical (cf. Bernard Ramm’s Protestant Biblical Interpretation, pp. 36–37).
         8.      See Augustine’s use of the parable of the Good Samaritan in How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, p. 136.
      C.      The strengths of the allegorical method:
         1.      Attempted to use the Old Testament as a Christian document pointing to Christ
         2.      Followed the example of Jesus (Mt. 13) and Paul (Gal. 4) who used typology/allegory
         3.      Attempted to relate gospel truth to their day
         4.      Suggested reading: Has the Church Misread the Bible? by Moses Silva
      D.      The problems of the allegorical method:
         1.      It imported meaning into the text.
         2.      It forced a hidden meaning behind every text.
         3.      It put forth fanciful and far-fetched interpretations.
         4.      It did not allow words and sentences to bear their obvious, normal meanings.
         5.      It allowed human subjectivity to dominate the plain message of the original inspired author.
         6.      There are no controls on interpretation, no way to evaluate an interpretation
         7.      Luther called it “clerical jugglers performing monkey tricks” and “a sort of beautiful harlot.”
         8.      In Hexaemeron (9, 1) Basil of Caesarea says:
           “I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but something else, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep, to make them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass—plant, fish, wild beast, domestic animal, I take it all in the literal sense. For I am not ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16).”
         9.      It must be admitted that both Jesus (cf. Mt. 13:18–23) and Paul (cf. Gal. 4:21–31) used a form of typology or allegory.
         10.      It needs to be admitted that the early “orthodox” theologians were from Alexandria. God used this approach to interpretation to speak to the lost and the saved for several centuries.
    II.      The Reactionary School of Antioch of Syria (Lucian [A.D. 250–312], Diodore of Tarsus [A.D. 378], Theodore of Mopseutsia [A.D. 350–428], Chrysostom [A.D. 345–407])
      A.      It has something of a precedent in the literal or maybe “letteral” (focused on spelling of words) hermeneutical approach of the rabbis (Aquiba and Hillel).
      B.      It focuses on the plain, obvious, ordinary, common sense meaning of words and sentences.
      C.      It tried to understand the original inspired author’s intent.
      D.      Because of its textual focus, it came to be called the historical-grammatical or literal school of interpretation.
      E.      It became involved in the controversy over the natures of Christ (Nestorianism, i.e. Jesus had two natures—human and divine) and was disciplined out of existence by the Western church (Rome).
      F.      Therefore, it moved from Antioch in Syria to Persia after A.D. 553.
      G.      Its basic tenets were the interpretive approach of the Classical sixteenth century Protestant Reformers (Luther and Calvin) which they received, in part, from Nicholas of Lyra.

Posts 491
Robert Neely | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 14 2019 10:19 AM

Chapter 2 might be of help  

Lexham Methods Series: Volume 3: Social & Historical Approaches to the Bible

Posts 30179
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 14 2019 2:16 PM

Thanks - I'll check these out.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 83
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 14 2019 5:05 PM

This article might be a little useful (at least for mid 70's Lutheran perspective), but the bibliography might point you to some resources (especially Berkhoff and Ramm perhaps.) Sorry I can't be more helpful. 

http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/surburghistoricalgrammaticalmethod.pdf

Posts 30179
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 14 2019 5:32 PM

Actually, Paul, this article answers my specific question perfectly. 

The Terry book raises some additional questions.

Thanks everyone.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Page 1 of 1 (7 items) | RSS