Surely the key point in this discussion is what is meant by inspiration? Is the Bible primarily an inspired book or a historical book or both? This is the key presupposition that determines your answer and your hermeneutic and ‘ultimately your view of God and Gods providential activity’. (Vanhoozer 2002, p128. First Theology. IVP)
Your answer Andrew, seems to be ‘both but mostly historical and determined by the historical’ (is that fair?).
I have read this blog for a few years now and have read 2 of your books also and have gained and continue to gain a lot from it (including some good essay marks where I quoted you on Romans), so thankyou.
However recently I’ve begun reading from the other angle of theological interpretation to gain balance and have found that a historical approach can equally be challenged as Fowl states
‘For my purposes it is sufficient to note that if the dominance of historical criticism depended on the assumption that the world and its past were immediately available to us, then the recognition that the world is not immediately available must also affect the claims of historical criticism.’ (Fowl 2009, p22, Theological Interpretation of scripture, Cascade Books).
I know Wright grapples with this in his critical realist methodology but it still opens the door to a historical reading being an ‘interpretation’ and not solely determinative but part of an ongoing constructive dialouge as Fowl argues,
‘The demise of the conceptual apparatus that allowed for the dominance of historical- critical interpretation of the Bible has not led to the elimination of historical criticism, nor should it. It has, however, opened the door to critical approaches to the Bible that do not grant those particular historical concerns priority over all others.’ (Ibid.)
So I return to my staring point if we all agree that the Bible is in some way not just a text but an inspired text, then we have to grapple with what that inspiration means and how God as the constant in the equation can therefore make what appears ‘extraneous’ to you, pertinent to another. For example if we see Christ as central to Christianity and as God revealed in history as the ultimate revelatory act then is it really unfair to think that Christ would in fact not be extraneous to the psalm that He had a hand in inspiring as you assert? After all is not Christ Lord?
‘circumstances that are strictly extraneous to the psalm—the Christian canon, the centrality of Christ, the religious practice of the church—oblige the reader to search for meanings other than, or in addition to, the obvious one.’
I think the point here is that what is ‘obvious’ from one hermenutical set of lenses is not ‘obvious’ from another which is why we need each other as the church to do interpretation, which again calls into question your dismissal of church practice. I cannot comment on the book itself you are quoting from but I know that other TIS scholars try very hard to be balanced as Fowl demonstrates above.
It seems that just as you rightly assert that we have to grapple with the historical reality of the text and not sidestep the horrors that are ‘part of our story’ that equally we cannot side-step the fact that the very reason that they are part of our story is that they are part of our inspired ‘sacred scriptures’ or else we risk losing the authorial view of ‘the Lord’ that the psalmist is talking to, praying to, lamenting with, and remembering through his previous revelations’. (psalm 137:6)
I’m still just thinking and praying through this stuff so thankyou for your contribution to that thinking and devotional process.