Title page for ETD etd-05222007-135507

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Laughton, Lance Craig
Email lance-laughton@telkomsa.net
URN etd-05222007-135507
Document Title The hermeneutic of the author of Hebrews as manifest in the introductory formulae and its implications for modern hermeneutics
Degree MA (Biblical Studies)
Department Biblical and Religious Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof G J Steyn
  • Hebrews
  • Hermeneutics
  • Intertextuality
  • Introductory Formula
  • Interpretation
  • Old Testament in the New
Date 2006-03-09
Availability unrestricted
The aim of the research is to derive a set of hermeneutical principles of the author of the book of Hebrews from the introductory formulae and, to a lesser degree, to contrast these with contemporary hermeneutical approaches.

The research is important for three reasons. Firstly, the introductory formulae have largely been neglected as a source for consideration when analysing the hermeneutic of a writer, such that this study is, to some degree, ground-breaking in nature. Secondly, the introductory formulae provide the clearest presentation of the author’s hermeneutic in that here may be found the most explicit statements revealing the author’s hermeneutic rather than deriving these. Thirdly, in the book of Hebrews we have the best example of how a New Testament writer interpreted the Old Testament (most quotations and introductory formulae per size of book).

The research was conducted along the following lines: A comprehensive and workable list of introductory formulae in Hebrews was derived. This list was compared and contrasted firstly within the book itself and secondly in comparison to that of the other New Testament writers. A set of principles was derived from the introductory formulae of Hebrews and compared to the hermeneutics of contemporary modern approaches.

The results of the research are encapsulated in six principles which together summarise the author of Hebrews’ hermeneutic. The Old Testament is understood as,

-- spoken not written,

-- spoken by a Trinitarian God comprising Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

-- dynamic, that is, spoken with equal authority and equal effect to a current generation,

-- authoritative and complete,

-- the words of God do not require the intervention of man but rather the removal of man permitting God to address His people personally, -- pertaining to the person and work of Christ.

The conclusion of the research can be summarised in one sentence: “God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is speaking to you now and what He says concerns His Son.”

When these principles are compared with contemporary modern hermeneutic, the following is observed;

-- the ‘written-and-dated’ nature of God’s revelation instead of an understanding that God is speaking to us today.

-- a focus on a single person of the Godhead and a resultant infatuation with some doctrines at the expense of others.

-- an illegitimate concern to make God relevant.

-- the reader no longer reads in order to understand but reads in order to define meaning and the meaning primarily pertains to himself

-- the listener has become the speaker and the speaker is a primarily concerned about himself and how he is coming across not about God.

-- the exposition of the Bible has degenerated from theology to anthropology.

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