I am in the middle of posting a five-part blog series on the interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27, the famous “Seventy Weeks” prophecy, one of the most controversial Old Testament prophecies predicting the coming of the Messiah. Some scholars call it the “Dismal Swamp” of Biblical interpretation. After digging into this for about two years, I can believe it really is a swamp.
The passage is really fascinating and amazing, but the pervasive interpretive pluralism among Christians, as to what the prophecy means, can be overwhelming. There have been times where I have been tempted to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Thankfully, I ran into the following re-post from Derek Rishmawy’s blog that serves as a healthy antidote to following such a temptation.
Derek Rishmawy is also a co-host of the MereFidelity podcast, that I sometimes listen to, that combines thoughtful theological reflection and conversation, with engagement in contemporary cultural issues impacting the English speaking world. These guys are smart, and just listening to the British accents of some of the other co-hosts makes you feel a little bit smarter yourself, too. If you need some intellectual stimulus that you are not getting elsewhere, you should check out the podcast sometime at the MereOrthodoxy website.
“Yeah, but there are so many interpretations of that text, so many denominations claiming Scripture for their own, you can’t really say there’s a wrong way of reading it.”
If you’ve been in a Bible study or spent more than about 10 minutes surfing pop theology writings, you have probably run across a claim of this sort. The idea is that with so many different readings of Scripture, it’s either arrogant or hopeless to think we can come to a determinate, or correct understanding of it. In other words, the mere fact of interpretive disagreement ought to put us off from claiming anything very strong for our interpretations of Scripture.
This sort can take a couple of different forms.
First, someone can go full-blown, radical skeptic and just say that the text has no inherent, determinate meanings, only uses. Or maybe that it’s a springboard for our own thoughts about…
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What do you think?