Friday, July 15, 2011

Evaluating novel exegesis

Associating with fundamentalists, charismatics and traditionalists means that you encounter creative instances of scriptural exegesis (ie interpretations of what the Bible means).

My favourite is the Catholic charismatic who, refering to the creation of man on the sixth day, said this means that the Lord created all human souls in Paradise and that conception merely involves the incarnation of a pre-existing soul.

Though recognising his originality, I pointed out that Origen had also taught this back in the third century and that his theory had been condemned by the Church. But this cut no ice. My interlocuter merely said that we're bound by the clear teaching of Scripture ...

And the other day, a friend relayed an exciting exegesis that she had heard from a visiting preacher.

After thinking about it and other such novelties, I now offer Felix's first law of hermeneutics:

The plausibilty of a novel exegesis is inversely proportional to the excitement with which it is proposed.

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