Final Stretch – Interpretive Practices

A little commentary on the wisdom literature of the Old Testament from this past week. Two more weeks until I graduate.. but still a final paper to start and finish. Pause world!

n this 3rd unit, I was encouraged by the reading on wisdom literature, and it’s unified, yet distinct contribution to the whole of scripture. In the OT canon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job can seem to stick out as being random, without any focus it seems on Israel, covenant etc. Yet, as we read, the focus on the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom is a unifying focus of all three books and is a unique derivative of the covenant relationship from Sinai which set Israel apart form it’s pagan neighbors and their gods. In Job, if we remove covenant from the book, we have no message. In Ecclesiastes, without covenant, truly all is meaningless! 

I was challenged to think through a fresh lens that Creator has set up a good world, but that in all three books, there’s a common disorder in the universe that has been unleashed causing much frustration. The writers recognize this common virus, though they don’t name it, in NT vernacular, we can all understand this issue to be sin. Wisdom, to live the good life in the midst of this disorder, begins with recognizing God as Creator, and though we have quite a limited view on the situation, we can trust in God, even when all hell breaks loose!

I was encouraged as well that for the Jewish world, God and world were not two separate realities.. “as if the cosmos was a machine wound up at creation and left to run on its own” but rather the Lord was understood to be active at all levels” (E. C., Lewis “Wisdom Theology,” Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings, IVP, 2008, p. 905)

Lastly, Green’s book has challenged me to take seriously my presuppositions, and rather than attempt to arrive at some neutral place in my mind, he encourages us to embrace principles of interpretation (p. 92-92) which mitigate our known and unknown presuppositions, keeping us coloring inside the lines when it comes to our relationship with Scripture. Instead of belonging for or against theological camps, I should rather “identify oneself with and among the community of faith” (Green p. 75) in this ongoing, generational church discussion with Scripture. This is liberating, because I think I’ve faked myself out, or tried to, thinking I’m reading from this place of total neutrality, only to be guilty of what Green calls an “anachronistic framework into which the pluriform message of Scripture might be squeezed” (Green, p. 80). In other words, I see how systematic theology has wreaked havoc in my journey with Scripture, robbing it of it’s multi-valence and intended formational influence.

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