19 March 2009

Bible interpretation dodge #4 — mo' PoMo (NEXT! #7)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge: I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means.

Response A: Then I'm not sure what you mean.

Response B: How can I be sure what you mean?

(Proverbs 21:22)

Dan Phillips's signature

39 comments:

DJP said...

For those of you keeping score at home:

This is the last planned PoMo hermeneutic whack; the next Next! is the last planned hermeneutic whack (not aimed at a PoMo dodge, but a very pre-PoMo dodge).

donsands said...

"I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means."

"Hey, maybe we're not even really here talking to each other."

Frank Turk said...

I think the most ingenius hermeneutical whack is Bart Ehrman's claim that we can't really know what the original text of the NT said, so interpretation is, at best, a self-referential game of reading ourselves into the text.

Anyone interested in a methodical decimation of that position should go over to AOMin.org and buy/download the White/Ehrman debate. James is, of course, stellar, and Ehrman comes across as far less convincing than he does on his random appearances on NPR.

DJP said...

It is ironic that Ehrman is calling on his readers to ridicule inerrancy of the autographs — readers who, of course, are not holding in their hands Ehrman's original manuscript.

Tim Bertolet said...

Triablogue recently pointed out that if you are going to take a whack at all the inconsistencies in the gospels, like Ehrman does, then you can't have a textual theory of no original text, like Ehrman does. Either the text as we have it is representative of the original text and then I can try to show contradictions or the text we have is not a true representation and so any discrepancies I might find are pointless because I have know what of knowing what's original. "You can’t allege a contradiction unless the text is reliable...a necessary precondition for imputing contradictions to scripture is the essential integrity of the text."

The same seems true of your hermeneutical whacks: you can't argue against meaning and at the same time expect people to know what you mean. Know what I mean?

Even So... said...

"I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means."

(me, pointing a gun)

Yeah, you're right, like "thou shalt not kill"...I'm a little confused on that...and , "thou shalt not steal"...now, give me your car keys...

DJP said...

Wow, that's like EXTREEEEEEME "Next!"

Joshua Cookingham said...

"We can;t be sure of what any verse means."

Me: "YAY! that means I don't have to help the widows and Orphans, like your social gospel says!"

I've heard this dodge before, just a little more differently put....

BTW, Dan, isn't this one REALLY similar to your last one?

DJP said...

In that it is critical of PostModernism? Uh, yeah, I guess.

Mesa Mike said...

I have no comment on this post. That would be presumptive on my part to proceed as if anything I read on the internet has any discernible meaning.

Shinar Squirrel said...

Even So...- Wonderful!

It amuses me to no end that people who reject all rules for themselves, which is really what a rejection of Biblical truth is, would never want everybody else to do the same.

"now, give me your car keys..." lol

The Squirrel

DJP said...

now, give me your car keys...

And if they try to be cute and say "Yeah, but I don't know what you mean," you point, grunt, and wave the gun.

Tim Bertolet said...

now, give me your car keys...

...ahh but you presuppose a correspondence theory of truth by actually assuming the presence of car keys and talking about my car indicates out there somewhere is parked an actual physical car. Silly modernists.

Mr Wizzard said...

Do you think a bank teller would get away with using this excuse if they were handed a slip of paper with some demands?

LeeC said...

So I can be sure that I can't be sure....right?

ajlin said...

My post-modern friends from college would simply be delighted at the cleverness of your responses.

(Not to say that what you post is a bad beginning to a response to someone influenced by post-modernism.)

DJP said...

And that's where you come in with a devastating follow-through, Andrew!

(c:

Aaron Snell said...

Challenger: I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means.

Response: I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean.

Challenger: [Explanation and elaboration]

Response: I'm sorry, I'm still not sure what you mean.

Challenger: [Further explanation and elaboration]

Response: [ad infinitum until they get the point...of course, this kind of defeats the whole NEXT! motif]

Jugulum said...

Hmm... This sounds familiar somehow...

Challenge: I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means, without an infallible interpreter.

Response 1: Then I'm not sure what you mean.

Response 2: Are you sure you know what your interpreter means?

Julie said...

Challenge: I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means.

Response: Are you sure?....
I didn't think so.

Solameanie said...

I know you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure that what you heard is not what I meant.

DJP said...

Hey! Jug! You're grabbing my next Next!

Jugulum said...

DJP,

Nice! I wonder how close my wording will turn out to be.

Stefan said...

Joshua:

The last dodge assumed that there is no inherent meaning to the text.

This dodge assumes that there is an inherent meaning, but we can't know what with certainty what it is.

DJP said...

Jugulum

It's already drafted, so I'll check.

{ checks }

Eerily similar, but mine still has a little Snakebite Sauce of its own.

:^P

Jugulum said...

You've always been more sassy than me.

Joshua Cookingham said...

"In that it is critical of PostModernism? Uh, yeah, I guess."

Lol, I meant it seemed similar to the "What does this verse mean to me?" one you just did....

Joshua Cookingham said...

Stefan-

Ah, gotcha. Thanks for clearing that up. it just seemed so similar to me....lol.

Sir Brass said...

"The same seems true of your hermeneutical whacks: you can't argue against meaning and at the same time expect people to know what you mean. Know what I mean?"

Tim, no I don't know what you mean, but since interpretation is left up to me, thank you for the compliment on my very nice hat =p.

Stefan said...

Joshua:

Well, that's what you think.

;)

KM said...

"I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means."

If I can't understand it then it would be foolishness for me to continue to believe that it's the power of God and the wisdom of God right?

Well, yea since really you're just guessing what it means.

Ok, so I'm going to take a wild and outlandish guess that when Paul wrote that non-believers would consider the message of the cross foolishness he meant exactly that. Since you have admitted you believe it's foolishness to accept the Word that way you have proven my guess to be correct and you have proven that that verse meant exactly what it said. So now we can both be sure about at least 1 verse, right?

That's my stab at it.

Julie said...

I like where KM is going.

Along the lines of Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Shinar Squirrel said...

KM-

Oh, very good!

The Squirrel

Mesa Mike said...

What KM wrote.
Mikey likes it.

Stefan said...

Yes, KM, you're onto something.

I think any skeptic would be especially happy to agree with 1 Corinthians 2:14a:

"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him...."

Strong Tower said...

I don't think we can be sure of what any Bible verse means.

I am sorry, my responses are limited.

You must ask the right question.

Can we be sure of what any Bible verse means?

I am sorry, my responses are limited.

You must ask the right question.

Can I be sure of what any Bible verse means?

Before you can be sure of what any Bible verse means you must first know what it says. Which Bible verse do you wish to know about?

Any Bible verse.

Pick one.

I don't have a Bible.

Here take mine.

Cool leather.

Yah, red heifer, really rare. Like it? Keep it and when you find a verse you want to talk about let me know. Many verses are straight up clear, others are tricksy. But my responses are limited. You must ask the right question, like "Does this verse say, 'Repent and believe?'" Then we might get to what does it mean. If it comes to that we'll ask DJP, he's like Mr. Wizard, Dr. Laura and the Magic 8-ball... a real Obaman. He writes on two blogs at once while tossing pizza dough with his head.

Cool, red heifer, huh?

Stefan said...

Forget postmodernism, kids: there's a surrealist in the house.

Jack said...

If we find postmodern emergents' ideas inconceivable, just apply iocaine powder. Though I don't think that word means what you think it means. It's dangerous to take on a Sicilian emergent...when death is on the line! (ha! ha! ha! ha! slump over).

CR said...

Very funny, Strong Tower. Very funny...