Genesis Destroyed by Exegesis So-Called?

Men today do not, perhaps, burn the Bible, nor does the Roman Catholic Church any longer put it on the Index, as it once did. But men destroy it in the form of exegesis: they destroy it in the way they deal with it. They destroy it by not reading it as written in normal, literary form, by ignoring its historical-grammatical exegesis, by changing the Bible’s own perspective of itself as propositional revelation in space and time, in history.

— Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), Death in the City [1969]

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5 Responses to Genesis Destroyed by Exegesis So-Called?

  1. I’m all for historical-grammatical exegesis, but the Bible is not a sentient being capable of having “[its] own perspective of itself.” People can have perspectives of themselves; literary works are incapable of this. Personifying the Bible actually works against historical-grammatical exegesis, for such personification tends to detach the biblical texts from the historical and cultural circumstances of their production.

  2. It’s possible you’re making the same mistake that many critics of evolution do when they say things like, “Evolution? What, is evolution some sort of deity for you guys? ‘Evolution is responsible for the diversification of life’ is a faith statement like ‘God is responsible for the diversification of life.'”

    The idea that the Bible has something to say about itself means no more than to me than “Money caused their marital problems”: it’s metonymy. I take it to refer to the teaching of the authors of the Bible, particularly when referencing one another’s work.

    That said, I don’t preclude the possibility that Schaeffer meant that the Bible itself was invested with some strange metaphysical aura and powers, as the majority of fundamentalists and evangelicals tend to treat it.

  3. Christopher,

    Interesting take, but that wasn’t really what I think Schaeffer was getting at. He was calling out those who claimed to use exegesis but failed to take into account the historical-grammatical method. Throught their hypocritical approach, they destroy the very message of the Bible itself.

    In the end, I’d have to agree with Steve that, when we attribute the Bible with some sort of self-perspective, we are using a metonymy.

    Good comments on both sides.

  4. Near a year late to this I suppose, but take the grammatical-historical approach into account to Genesis and the output is literal..er…

    I’m conservative, but I’ve learned that from conservatives and liberals alike; that’s why the latter frown upon and brow-beat fundamentalists who “take it literally”, (that’s in the sense of its proper intent, not ‘verbally’); from (generally liberal) textual analysis, form criticism, genre, you name it…Genesis is, in the end, intended by its authors to be taken as literal, as instructive and didactic, hence why liberals dismiss it, neo-conservatives (which is basically liberal with a thin patina) allegorize it for principle while acknowledging the text exegeted demands respect and belief; Schaeffer himself made comments (in writing and video that I’ve seen) to the effect that he was astonished that anyone would call themselves Christians while not believing the text of Scripture according to the normative “demands” of valid (I didn’t say “perfect”) hermeneutics.

  5. take the grammatical-historical approach into account to Genesis and the output is literal..er…In the end, you’re quite correct, “a guy.” But the problem with young-earth creationists is that they want reality to concord with the literal interpretation. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Genesis 1 reflects ancient scientific concepts, pure and simple, which are, by modern standards, entirely inaccurate.

    Genesis is, in the end, intended by its authors to be taken as literal, as instructive and didactic, hence why liberals dismiss it, [and] neo-conservatives (which is basically liberal with a thin patina) allegorize it for principle while acknowledging the text exegeted demands respect and beliefExactly. But does that make me a neo-conservative if I demand that the ancient science in Genesis 1 be recognized and respected, but not demand that Genesis 1 be believed as an accurate account of historical events or cosmological realities?

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