Friday, 29 April 2011

Ben Witherington III on John Chrysostom on Hermeneutics

Over at ‘The Bible and Culture’, Ben Witherington has a nice post (originally from 2007, but reposted ‘by popular demand’) on John Chrysostom’s hermeneutics, his understanding of the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament in particular.

After citing Chrysostom’s analogy of the difference between a sketch and a full-colour portrait, Witherington says:

‘Chrysostom is putting his finger on some important Christian guidelines for properly reading the OT, namely that it must be seen in the light of its sequel, but it must not be confused with that sequel. The OT is not the NT in advance and the conditions, terms of discussion, theological rubrics and ethical categories are all preparatory, sketchy so to speak, not final, full, or completely revealing. The ‘shadows’ or ‘sketches’ are true as far as they go, but they must not be confused with the full bodied portraits of Christ, the Christian life, the nature of reality, the ultimate and full character of what God demands of those saved by grace and so on.’

As Witherington goes on to say, ‘what is so interesting about this whole hermeneutical approach is that it believes that one must do justice to the history if one is to do theology and ethics right’.

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