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Question 3: Explain the Asian Hermeneutics?

Answer: The Asian context is multi-religious and multi-cultural to the extent that all the 10
living religions of the world like, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrian,
Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Islam originated in this part of the world.
Pluralism is the reality of Asia. There are different ideologies, religious experiences, worldview
and visions. Asia has contributed number of religious scriptures to the world. Exploring an
Asian hermeneutics is important in the context of the struggles of Asian people.
The Asian socio-political, cultural and religious reality is quite distinct from the western world.
The Asian hermeneutics is contextual in nature. It is also liberative as the suffering of the poor
is a dominant reality in Asia. The socio-economic reality has very significant focus in
hermeneutics. M M Thomas was trying to analyse the society and interpreted the bible in the
context. A contextual and concrete theology was developed as against the dogmatic and
abstract theology. The pietistic interpretation and proof text method were rejected by him.
He had read the bible in relation to the social involvement. In his words, he is a person living
in the frontiers between religion and society exploring and trying to communicate biblical
insights for perople in analysing and challenging society.
Gods purpose for the corporate totality is to be emphasised when we are true to bible. M M
Thomas says, Bible provides a framework of knowledge of the ultimate purpose of God for
the world as expressed in his mighty acts, culminating in the life, death and resurrection.
A new community in Christ was the main focus of M M Thomas. He was reflecting the biblical
message in the contextual issues. Action and reflections are very core of his thinking.

Sebastian Kappen was using a critical analysis of the resources. He questioned the
Brahminical cultural and religious ethos. Marxian tool of analysis was also used in a critical
way in his method of interpretation. He sees the protest movement or prophetic ethos or
counter-culture as very significant. The Jainist and Buddhist resources are seen as a counter
culture. Jesus was also understood as prophet of counter culture.

In the context of Asia, the socio-political reading of the text is quite appropriate. It should be
also considered that in the religiously plural context of Asia, the various scriptures exist. The
cross-textual interpretation is also necessary as we have biblical text and also the text of our
indigenous religious context. Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, are Asian
religions. The Quran and Zend Avesta also make impact as there are Parsi and Muslim
communities that exist in Asia. The biblical text and the Asian religious texts should have a
dynamic dialogue. The oral texts are also to be considered as many people groups in Asia do
not have written text. Their historical experience is the text for them.

The Confucian hermeneutics, according to Daniel J Adams, has three significant elements.
The literal and factual, the experimental and the combination of the first two with an emphasis
upon knowledge and action. He compared it with Christian interpretation. The historical critical

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method which is interested in historical fact, the existential method which is interested in
action and personal experience, and the new hermeneutics which seeks to combile the best
of historical- critical method and the existential method.
Kuzoh was trying to contextualise the gospel in the Japanese context. He takes the pain of
God as an important dimension fro shi theology. He takes two Japanese words tsutsumu
means to enfold to enwrap and tsurasa means to feel pain in ones deep personal life for the
sake of together and thought it together with Jeremiah 31:20 and Isa 63:15 to construct a
theology of pain. For him, when man suffers for others, he is participating with the sufferings
of Christ on the cross love rooted in the pain of God

Kosuke Koyama, the Japanese theologian developed waster buffalo theology. The book is
concerned with interpretation of the history, the Thai Buddhist life, the Christian life and the
rooting of the Gospel. He saw the water buffalos grazing in the muddy field which inspires him
that he should avoid abstract ideas and present the message to the farmers in the simplest
sentence - structure and thought development. He based his contextual interpretation on 1
Cor 9:22. According to Daniel J Adams, Koyamas hermeneutics is people-oriented, it shuns
academic theology. It is concerned of the condition and need of the people. The interpreter
has to avoid his pre-understanding and pre-supposition. It should be incarnational - a cultural
incarnation. Koyama calls this as the crucified mind. It asserts involvement with a given
context, situation, environment of culture is the only soil from which theology germinates.

Choan Send Song was doing theology in Taiwanese context. He calls the Christians for a
radical transposition from the pointed nosed Christ to the flat nosed Christ. He urges the
concentrate on the study of humanity and world. He looks fro a dialectics between Bible and
Asian cultural resources. He also tried to formulate an incarnational theology. The raw
material for his theology is cripture, traditions and the whole world art, poetry and politics.
He proposed to make use of Asian culture, folklores and images. He argues that God enters
human history through human womb and laid the foundation of a new community built on
love, justice and peace. He urges to do theology from the womb of Asia.

In Minjung theology, faith and revelation are related to the context of Asia. Minjung
hermeneutics is more concerned of the socio-political condition of Korea. The political reading
of text in the context is what is formed as Minjung theology, in which biblical text on salvation
is conceived as it expresses pain and hope as it is rooted in the cross and resurrection.

The Asian women and their hermeneutics is also very crucial. The Asian womens experience
os one of extreme oppression because of the patriarchal nature of the society. The feminist
liberative thrust in the text are to be explored. It is also the duty to challenge the male-
chauvinism in the religious text and cultural thos. The contradictory views are found in religion
and culture, but it is possible to form a sound feminist theology by re-reading the religious

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texts and cultural ethos. Thre are proverbs, ideologies and vision that dehumanises women
which are to be critically evaluated.
A re-reading of the biblical text and Asian religious text and culture is important for a proper
Asian women theology. The hermeneutics of suspicion can be applied in this regard.
In the Asian hermeneutics, the Asian socio-political experience, the Asian religious texts,
cultural ethos are to be considered. A dialectics of these with biblical resources are also
essential. So Asian hermeneutics is very dialogical in Character. It is also liberative. The
domineering and dehumanising element in every sphere have to be challenged. A re-reading,
re-conceiving and re-defining is significant in Asian hermeneutics.

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Question 5: Explain the dominant methods of interpretation?

Answer: There are different methods of interpretation exist today, some dominant methods
are mentioned below:

A. Allegorical Method:

Allegory is literary method used to portray certain things in a fanciful manner. Historically, this
method is used by the Christian community in interpreting the text.

The allegorical interpretation tries to find out the hidden or Spiritual meaning of the text.
Certain events are categorised furnishing certain inner meaning to the text. It is spiritualising
of the text, which is quite unrelated to the intention of the author. Allegorical interpretation
denies the authority of the scripture to speak for itself. It distorts the meaning of the text. It
doesnt give serious attention to the context. It violates the principle that a text taken or used
out of context is pretext. It is a fanciful interpretation of the text.

Allegorical method deviates from the literal meaning of the text. Traditionally, the church was
using this method to make relevant stories to the present; which disregarded the context of
the text. Reading an extra-meaning in the text cannot be justifiable.

There can be different examples for allegory from history. One of the best example is found in
the interpretation of the parable. The parable of the good Samaritan is sometimes fancifully
interpreted. The inn is understood a the church, the two coins are interpreted as the OT and
NT and the return of the good Samaritan is portrayed as the second coming of Jesus. In a still
more fanciful way the donkey (in the parable) is depicted. The four legs are interpreted as the
four gospels and the tail is explained as the Acts of the Apostles.

B. Typological Method:

It is a non-literal method of interpretation. The Old Testament events or persons are used in
reference to the NT events and characters. David and Joseph are used as types of Jesus. In
certain occasions, even the OT types are equated to Jesus. The meeting between Rebecca
and Isaac in the dessert Is depicted as the meeting of bride (church) and the bridegroom
(Jesus), which is actually a pretext. But in the New Testament certain allegory (Gal. 4:21-31)
and typology are used (Hosea 11:1 = Mt. 2:15). This is, however, not a pattern for us to
interpret allegorically or typologically. Canonically, whatever is needed is interpreted in these
ways as part of messianic implications or theological inference. This does not provide us
freedom to interpret as we like allegorically or typologically.

C. Impressionistic Method:

It is interpreting the text in a devotional manner. There is no in-depth study Involved in this
interpretation. It is only a peripheral or superfluous attempt. Without considering the intention
of the author and the context, a meaning is derived out of his personal feeling or impression.
If one interpret a verse I am poor and needy, the impressionist method take it as spiritually
poor or he will not consider the economic dimension of the poor and needy.

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D. Sensus Plenior Method:

In Sensus Plenior method, extra meaning may be added to make it to suit his own purpose.
Apostle Paul used this method to suit certain passage for his purpose. In Gen. 18: 15-16
descendants (plural) is used, but Paul used it in singular (descendent) refer it to Christ.
Apostles are, of course, the vehicles of Gods revelation, and we are not supposed to follow
this. Paul was providing messianic implication as he was instrument of Gods revelation. We
are not authorized to furnish extra or additional meaning to the text.

E. Dogmatic Method:

The interpretation may come under the influence of the dogma or the traditional teaching of
the church. The church holds certain teachings and they use certain texts to substantiate the
view, so the text carries meaning related to dogma. This can be a subjective interpretation
which is prejudiced based on certain distinct doctrines of the church. This has to be avoided
in, order to get rid of the distortions. For example, the text related to baptism is interpreted in
different ways by various denominations.

F. Grammatico-historilcal Method:

Grammatico-historical method is a type of historical criticism. It depends heavily on exegetical

principles which had been worked out during the time of Erasmus which insisted that the
meaning of a word was to be determined from its context and from usage elsewhere. It avoids
the deeper philosophical and theological questions. It is a scientific study of the text. It deals
with the history of the text, the grammar, the syntax, the genre and the socio-cultural
background. It is an in-depth and comprehensive way of studying the text. This method has
been widely applied from the time of reformation. The knowledge about the context and
grammar are given serious attention in the interpretation of the text.

G. Historical Method:

Luthers recognition of the literal meaning as the real meaning of the text plays an important
role in this regard. A vast resource of information bout history and background of the text
opened the way for historical-critical method.

This method considers the Biblical texts as historical texts as other ancient texts. It identifies
the original author and recipient to find out the original meaning. The reading of the text from
the historic-critical method analyses the different sources behind the present form of the text
and the long history of traditions preceding the formation of the text.

The historical-critical method begins with form criticism which identifies forms like speeches,
songs and law. Then it analyses the history of the tradition (Eg. The different stages in the
development / formation of Decalogue). Finally, it analyses the text in the light of the history of
redaction (the book finds the present form from the redactor).

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II. Existential Method:

The existential method of interpretations was widely used by German scholars like Buitmann,
Von Rad and Westermann. This method can be called as Theological and Existential
interpretation. This attempt is an answer to the question raised by scholars that how the
ancient text is sensible and relevant for the modern reader. According to them, the historical
critical will only partly fulfil this task. This question was seriously considered by the existential
school of Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann was influenced by Martin Neideggers existential
philosophy. According to Bultmann the Biblical language is mythological, so the myths like
incarnation, resurrection, ascension, heaven and hell are insensible to the modern reader. He
suggested the demythologisation to interpret the Biblical text in the light of present context.
Bultmann was influenced by reason, science and humanism.

I. Sociological Method:

The sociological reading of the text is a common method today. The method is concerned of
the social context and the nature of the community. The context of the author and the
recipient is very significant over here. It is concerned with the kind of society and the class of
the people. The dynamics of the society and the relationship of the people (social and
economic, relationship) are very much considered. The social life and the network relationship
are very significant in this regard.

Reading the Bible from the subaltern perspective is related to t approach, the structural
problems and the questions of the poor are considered. The Marxian tools of analysis are
also used in sociological method. The socio political reading of the Bible is found in the
liberation approach. The sociological method is applied by Norman Gottwald in his book
Tribes of Israel. The structures of oppression, injustice and the questions of the poor are
considered in this method.

J. Structuralist Method:

This method is language-based and developed by linguistics. It focuses on the text itself
unlike the historical critical method which concentrates on the intention of the author of the
text. It is concerned of the structure the text. D. Patte states in his book what is structural
exegesis? that the structural exegete attempts to uncover, for instance, the linguistic,
narrative or mythical structures of the text under consideration. Whether or not these
structures were intended by the author is not a relevant question. According to Joseph Putti,
whereas the historical-critical method operates with a fundamentally diachronic paradigm, that
structuralist exegesis operates with a fundamentally diachronic paradigm. Diachronic is
concerned with historical development of a subject, specially a language. It is related to the
time. Synchronic describes a subject (esp. a language) as it exists at one point of time.

In the words of Putti, structuralism arose as a reaction against the tendency in many
existentialist theories to emphasise man as a creator of his own meaning.

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K. Literary Interpretation:

Erich Auerbach was a pioneer of modern literary criticism. His classic work was Mimesis
(1947) which holds that the gospels stand a literature because of the depth of their realism.
Hans Wilhelm Frei, In his work the eclipse of Biblical narrative (1974) made a significant
contribution to literary study of the Bible. His argument is that Bible is realistic in its portrayal
of events, even when the events is not historical by modern criteria. According to him, the
scholars have ignored the realism as a literary device and missed the message by mistaking
it for history.

The new literary criticism understands the scriptures a literature. it was a reaction against
traditional historical critical method. It asserted the autonomy of the text. The text is, for them,
independent of the context; original authors intention is not important. The narrative criticism
is not related to literary criticism. It is concerned of the implied author and the reader.

L. Rhetoric Method:

Rhetoric is oratory. The rhetorical criticism was first introduced by James Muilenburn. The
Greeks and Romans are famous for rhetoric. Rhetoric is understood as the art of composition
by which language is descriptive, interpretive or persuasive. It refers to theory and practice of
speaking well.

There are five step proposed methodology for rhetorical criticism:

1. Determine the rhetorical unit

2. Analyze the rhetorical situations three components of exigence (the reason by which
author wrote), the audience and the constraints brought to bear on the exigence by the rhetor.

3. Determine the species of rhetoric (eg: Judical, deliberative)

4. Analyze invention, arrangement and style. Invention is the mastering evidence to support a
position. Arrangement is the positioning of this supporting. Style is choosing the language and
figure of speech.

5. Evaluate the rhetorical effectiveness of the material.

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Question 6: Explain the method of interpretation during the time of Renaissance,
Reformation and Enlightenment?

Answer: The reformation period is 1483 to 1564. The renaissance (14-16 centuries - a period
between middle ages and the modern period revival of learning. The enlightenment (18 th
century), a period which followed after the social-political upheavals of the reformation. It was
a Philosophical movement. Renaissance began when Constantinople fell into the hands of
the Turks in AD 1453. The scholars had to scatter to different parts of Europe with their
contributions. This became a blessing in disguise as it helped to avail the scholarship or
knowledge by all. It is a new birth in the area of learning art, architecture, philosophy and

A. Renaissance:

Renaissance was a period of revival of learning, renewed interest in the arts and the study of
ancient writings and the beginnings of modern science. According to Bray, About 1450 a new
spirit of enquiry was clearly discernible in western Europe. Mental horizons were expanding,
and the invention of printing made it much easier to spread knowledge. The so-called
traditional authorities are being questioned. The existing structures were criticised. The
humanists tried to go back to the original texts.

B. Reformation (1483 - 1564)

The reformation challenged the papal infallibility and recognized the sole authority of the
Bible. It also questioned the church traditions. Reformation also questioned the practices like
sale of indulgence and the salvation by good deeds. Reformation was a spiritual awakening
where the word of God became the rule for life. Reformers gave importance to scripture (Sola
scripture scripture alone), (sola fid faith alone) and grace (Sola graba-grace alone)

1. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Luther translated the Bible into German and this had helped the people to read the scripture.
He was biblical scholar and wrote several commentaries & He gave importance to the context
and grammar of the text. He believed in the priesthood of believers asserted the right of every
Christian to interpret the scripture. He was influenced by the thesis of the epistle of Romans,
the justification by faith.

He overlooked the passages which do not directly deal Christ. He rejected the allegorical
method. He believed that faith and the illumination of the Holy Spirit were pre-requisites for an
interpreter of the Bible. He emphasized the literal interpretation, which gave importance to
scripture in its context and the rules of grammar and the context and application of the text for
present day He stated also that the text must not contradict another part of the scripture.
According to him, scripture must be interpreted in the light of central Christian teaching. For
him, part of the Bible should be interpreted in the light of the whole.

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According to Mickelson, Luther abandoned the medieval fourfold meaning and stressed a
single fundamental meaning. He also believed in the genuine spiritual depth of meaning.
Allegory is artificial and monkey tricks for him. His Biblical interpretation is centred in Christ
and scripture is, for him, the testimony of Christ. Gerald Bra summarized the main aspects of
Luthers interprefation as follows:

1 The starting point of any analysis of Luthers hermeneutical method is that the literal sense
of the scripture is also the spiritual sense. For him, the allegory is the empty speculation and
the historical sense only can supply the true and sound doctrine. However, he frequently
resorted to allegory.

2. The Bible is the word of God in written form, which points to the Word of God incarnate in
Jesus Christ. For Luther the Bible is not simply a catalogue of truths, but a record of Gods
saving purpose, which came to fulfilment in Jesus Christ. Everything in scripture pointed to
him, and anything which not was read in the light of Christ was fundamentally misinterpreted

3. The Bible contains two opposed but mutual complementary elements, the law and the
gospel. For him, law is the principle of condemnation and gospel was the word forgiveness
and restoration

2. John Calvin (1509-1564)

He was an exegete and theologian. According to Daniel J. Adams, While Calvin held to the
view that much of what was in the Old Testament could be typically interpreted to refer to
Christ, he did not share Luthers view that Christ should be found everywhere in scripture .
According to Calvin, the prophets should be interpreted in the light of historical circumstances
and that commentaries and exegetical work should be characterised by lucid brevity. He also
advocated that scripture should be interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Gerald Bray comments on the hermeneutical method of John Calvin.

1. In the Bible, believers have a personal encounter with God which convinces them of the
truth of the message contained in it. For him the purpose of all true interpretation was to edify
the church and the individual believer, on the ground that scripture had been given for
correction and for training in Godliness (2 Tim 3:16). The inner witness of Holy Spirit was the
ultimate guide for Calvin.

2. The chief virtues of a good commentary are clarity and brevity. He believed that the text not
only stood above the interpreter, but that the interpreter must demonstrate this by serving the
text to his readers, not by concealing, it in obscurity.

3. Authors intention must be the guiding principle of interpretation. No text should be

interpreted without regard for the way in which the author intended it to be read.

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4. The literal sense of interpretation is paramount, but are not expected to follow it slavishly.
Calvin was well aware that context and meaning might oblige an interpreter to go beyond text,
and he insisted that this be done when necessary, as long as the meaning of the whole was
not literalistic as a strict literalism can lead to misinterpretation. He did not read Jesus words
This is my body in a strict literal sense.

5. The Christological interpretation of scripture must be historical as well as theological. For

Calvin, Christ was the fulfilment of the OT and the theme of the new, but that did not mean
that every verse necessarily contained some hidden reference to him.

6. Biblical Interpretation passes through three distinct but related phases. If any one of these
phases is omitted, the text will not be interpreted properly. The three phases are exegesis,
dogmatics and preaching.

Exegesis means unless we understand what text means it is impossible to apply it. Dogmatics
represents the framework in which exegesis is to be interpreted and preaching means the
application of the exegesis to everyday life.

C. Enlightenment

The 17 and 18th centuries are known for rationalism and empiricism. The comparative religion
and critical studies were prominent in this period. The historical facts were given importance
and not supernatural aspects like miracles. Post-reformation was a period of textual, linguistic
and historical studies. Textual criticism was developed. Bible was not understood merely a
source for proof-texts. The philosophical trends like Deism, humanism were also developed.
Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Leibnitz and Kant were the philosophers of the

Historical background of the Biblical account were studied in an in-depth way. Historical
studies and literary analysis of the scripture was promoted. According to rationalists (Hobbes
and Spinoza) Bible is true where it corresponds to the conclusions of mans independent
reason and the rest of the materials are ignored. There was an interest to learn the literary
form of Hebrew poetry in this period.

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7. What is the Jewish method of interpretation?

Answer: Before looking at the Jewish interpretation, it is important to know the Jewish
understanding of scripture and their literature.


The Jewish Bible is the Old Testament and Jews deny the value and authority of the NT
Beside the Hebrew Bible, they had the targums (Aramaic version) rid also the Greek version
of the OT (Septuagint LXX)

Targum is the interpretative renderings or the paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible. It should be
noted that those who returned from Babylonian exile were familiar with Aramaic language
than Hebrew. About the Aramaic version, it is stated that the linguistic situation of Judea and
Galilee demanded translation of the Hebrew Bible for the purpose of popular study and .

The aim of producing targums was to give the sense of the Hebrew scriptures. Theoretically,
in the synagogue a passage of scripture was to be rendered orally by an interpreter, after the
reading in Hebrew. The targum materials which was in circulation in Jesus time and disciples
influenced their teaching and memory.

Chilton continues to say that the targums are a rich source of that form of early Judaism and
rabbinic Judaism where the folk and the expert aspects of the religion met. For that reason,
serious students of the New Testament might well read them, as helping them to comprehend
the context within which Jesus taught and his movement first developed.

One of the prominent Jewish literature is the Talmud, which composed of the Mishnah, the
oral law which was in existence by the end the 2nd century A.D and was collected by Rabbi
Judah the Prince; and the Gemara, the comments of the Rabbis from AD 200-500 on the
Mishna Talmud consists of Halakhah the legal enactments and precepts and th, H non-legal
interpretations. Talmud is the source from which Jewish law is derived. While the liberal Jews
do not consider it as authoritative, it is binding for faith and practice of the orthodox Jews. It
provides information how the Jews interpreted the OT.


a. The literal method

The plain meaning of the text is stressed. It is a translation to understand the sense of the
Hebrew text. It is also a paraphrase (Neh. 1:38). It is necessitated because of the context
where the people could not follow Hebrew after the return from Babylonian captivity.

It Is done in Aramaic language, so caused the development of Targum. It is an Aramaic

paraphrase of Hebrew text. There is also a Hebrew exegesis which is developed based on
the plain meaning of the text.

b. Nalukhah and Haggadah (Talmud)

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Halakhah means walk or way. It is didactic materials, related to law, ethics or instructions.
The Mishnah is mainly halakhah, the discussion among the Rabbis on topics such as law or

Haggadah is the narration of the stories, especially the biblical stories. These show how the
Rabbis tried to understand the biblical material.

c. The Midrash

The word Midrash is derived from the term darash which a means search out or inquire. It
is understood as a category of thought and literature which seeks the resolution of scripture
with the teaching of the rabbis.

Midrash is exposition or commentary. The rabbis are the interpreters and they may find a new
implication or the relevance. Midrash is understood as the running commentaries of the OT.
Mark. 13 is Midrash of Daniel 7:l4, LK. 1:26-38 is Midrash of Isaiah 7:1 3 and Hebrews 2:6-9
is Midrash of Psa 8.

d. Pesher Method

It can be technically described as this is that. Pesher means solution of interpretation , IT is

derived from the root raz which means mystery. The Qumran community frequently used this
method. Apostle Peter was claiming, this Pentecost experience (Acts 2:16) is the fulfilment of
that which was prophesied by prophet Joel (Joel 2:28)

e. The interpretation of other schools:

The Pharisees and Sadducees are the two sects in Judaism. The Pharisees interpreted the
law according to the tradition of the fathers. They gave importance to piety.

According to Gerald Bray, the pharisaic biblical interpretation focuses around an attitude to
the Torah which distinguished between two kinds of laws - The first was that written is the
Torah itself; the second was a body of interpretive tradition, which had been handed down by
former generations. Pharisees gave importance to letter than the spirit of the law. Pharisees
negated the plain meaning of the text. They were legalistic as the emphasized ritual purity.
Hillel and Shammai belonged to the history of rabbinic exegesis.

The Sadducees are conservative in relation to the law, but ethical liberal. They denied
resurrection and life after death (Mt. 12:18-23).

The Qumran community believed that they are living in the last times. They were ascetics and
withdrawn from the society which was considered by them as impure. They considered
themselves as righteous remnant and had made commentaries on the OT books like
Habakkuk, Isaiah, Hosea Micah, Nahum and Zephaniah. Dead sea scrolls were their

They did not refer to the context, but made their own interpretation. Their interpretation was
heavily loaded by their theology, community life and practices.

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They also involved in spiritualizing of the text to an extend, that is to uncover the hidden
meaning. The Teacher of righteousness assumed a kind of papal authority over the

Philo (20 BCSo AD) was an Alexandrian Jew who used the Greek and Hebrew exegesis.
He was a Greek speaking Jew and a scholar in Greek philosophy. He tried to contextualize
the scripture. He wrote a commentary on Pentateuch. He interpreted the OT scripture which
was compatible to the Hellenistic concepts. He looked for the hidden meaning and applied
allegory in his interpretation. In his interpretation, Abraham living in Chaldea means living in a
material bondage. Abraham weds Sarah means Abraham weds wisdom. It was an
imaginative interpretation.

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Question 8. Explain the different methods of interpretation used by Jesus Christ and

Answer: Jesus and the apostles had used the Jewish exegesis. They had the Halakhic,
Haggadic, Midrashic and the Pesher use of the Biblical interpretation. Jesus was the rabbi of
the rabbis. He reinterpreted the Jewish understanding. He interpreted the law in the light of
the essence of the law, Mathew chapter 5-7 is the example. He re-read the text in the light of
the new context and challenges. He was not legalistic. The spirit of the law was important for
Jesus than the letter of the law. This is very clear in his interpretation of Sabbatical laws.
Jesus used the formula but I say unto you which is an indication of re-reading. He did
suspect the rabbinic (pharisaic) interpretation of the law.


In the time of Jesus and apostles the Aramaic version and the Septuagint (LXX) were widely
prevalent than the Hebrew text.

a. Their use of scripture is 60% agrees with Septuagint (LXX) than Hebrew Text (Mt. 1:23 =
Isa. 7:14; Gal 3:16=Gen 12:13, 15ff)

b. Free quotation: They quoted from memory. The OT passage is implied or which look as if,
indirectly used (Mk. 12:19 26).

c. Altered quotations. They altered the OT passages in order to suit the current situation. In
Isaiah 28:16, the word used is in haste, but in Romans 10:11, it is shifted as put to shame.

d. Combined quotations. They took two passages from two contexts and put them together to
substantiate their perspective (Acts 13:34, 35 = Isa.55:3; Ps 16:10; Rom 3:l0- 18= Ps.14:1-3,
51:1-3; Ps.5:9; 140:3.

e. Repeating the verses - Some verses are often repeated. According to F.F Bruce, the
apostles must have used a book of testimonia which consists of verses which are considered
by them as significant.

Eg: This is my Son in whom I am well pleased (Ps 2:7) The stone that was rejected became
the corner stone(Isa. 28:16; Ps. 118:22)


a. Jesus

As stated earlier Jesus was re-interpreting the Jewish understanding of the law. Jesus did not
use allegorical method. There is a literal an midrashic use in Mathew 4:4,7,10. He replied to
Satan from Deut. 8:3; 6:16, 13. A commentary of Deuteronomy (Chapter 8) Deut.8 is involved

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so there is Midrash. He also used Pesher method. In Luke 4:16-21 (Nazaret Manifesto) Jesus
said This scripture in me. The sense I am that is similar to this is that.

According to Gerald Bray, in dealing with Pharisees, Jesus frequently used Hillels principle of
qal-wa-homer, arguing from a lesser to greater principle. An obvious example is his defence
of healing on the Sabbath, which he justified on the ground that Moses allowed the Sabbath
to be broken for the lesser purpose of circumcision (Jn. 7:23)

b. The Apostles

There is literal interpretation found in Stephens speech (Acts 7). The narration of story
(haggadah) and also the element of commentary (Midrash) are found in the same passage. In
the pesher usage by apostles, they tried to demonstrate that Christ is the fulfilment of
scriptures. According to Gerald Bray the reference about death of Christ and his resurrection
came to be regarded as being according to the scriptures (1 Cor 15:3-5), are Pesher
Interpretations of Isaiah 53:5-12 and Hosea 6:2 respectively. He states again that Peters
preaching and teaching are full of pesher exegesis, as can be seen from the use of Joel 2:28-
32 in Acts 2:17-21, of psalm 118:22 in Acts 4:11 and 2 pet 2:7, the quotation of Isaiah 40:6-8
in I pet 1:24f and so on.

According to Bray, Hillels hermeneutical principles (Middot) was applied by Apostle Paul.
Hillels middot are frequently represented, as we or see from the following list.

Rule 1 - Romans 5:15-21; 2 cor. 3:7-18

Rule2 - Romans 4:1-12

Rules - Romans 13:8-10

Rule 6 - Galatians 3:8ff (Joining Gen. 12:3 and 22:18)

Rule7 - Romans 4:10;Gal.3:17

Bray also points out that Paul used allegory twice (1 cor. 9:9ff; Gal 4:21-31) as he goes
against hidden meaning than the literal I apparent meaning. It is additional to the literal sense.
It must be borne in mind that Pauls use of allegory is subordinate to his main argument and
illustrative of it; the argument does not depend on his particular exegetical device.

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