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Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Hermeneutical Philosophies for Interpreting Narrative Literature Part 1 - Introduction
Part 1 - Introduction
The hermeneutics of Lucan
literature is divided between those who find miraculous paradigmatic
examples in the text applicable to the modern church, and those who
confine the age of miracles to Luke's narrative. The interpretation
of the former seeks to repeat the miracles, as retold
in Acts, into modern-day methods of
ministry. This interpretation is generally known as Pentecostalism.
The interpretation of the latter is to repeat the success of that
initial ministry in relation to bringing souls to Christ, yet achieve
such aims in a manner less reliant on the miraculous and more reliant
on the homiletic. This persuasion is generally known as
Cessationism. Both sides enjoy a spectrum of diversity but for the
sake of brevity we will confine definitions to those given above.
Both sides accept the historical validity of Luke's account; the
difference is the repeatability of certain aspects of the history.
While expositors acknowledge that not all behaviors are to be
repeated, the presence of miracles divides interpreters as to their
At the heart of this issue is a
hermeneutical divide on the genre of the narrative. The narrative
provides an inseparable compound of the unique and the paradigmatic,
yet deciphering between the two is difficult. The genre of the
narrative differs from the didactic, which deals in objective
commandments and emphatic statements. Some solely base their
theology on the didactic and use the narrative to compliment it.
This is done in dearth of hermeneutical principles that can separate
the unique from the repeatable. I propose the hermeneutical
approaches called the principle of repetition and early readers
perception of the text. By adopting these principles we can sunder
between the normative and the distinct.
What neither side denies is that
the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit is fundamental and inseparable
from the work of the early church. Those who expect miracles as
relating to their contemporary ministry find abundant programmatic
examples in the book of Acts upon which to base their ministry.
Those who deny the role of the miraculous are in the difficult
position of trying to find paradigmatic ministry sans an element that
was indispensable to the apostles. The apostles could not have
imagined a miracleless ministry; and would have seen the empowering
of the Holy Spirit as basal. Those who depend on a homiletic based
ministry launch an approach foreign to the early church. Thus, if
the basis of one's ministry is not constantly seeking the miraculous,
then one will find little in the way of paradigmatic ministry. In
fact, such a ministry will have to create an entirely new methodology
that bears little resemblance to that retold by Luke. This puts the
cessationist minister in the discommodious position of necessitating
a new paradigm without the aid of a single biblical ecclesiastical
narrative or even a didactic. The cessationist say the miraculous in
Acts was not paradigmatic for contemporary ministry, but what such an
approach does not answer is where the paradigm for a miracleless
ministry is found, for it is certainly not within the scriptures.