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The Prophet in These Last Days

March 30, 2012

As per usual, I have let my loyal Hotdog Theologues down as I’ve been spending my valuable blogging time preparing to turn in stuff for my PhD courses. I know, I have my priorities out of order. In order to try to right this wrong, I am giving you a window into what really happens behind the scenes during high-level seminary training (doesn’t that sound fancy?).

We were sitting at lunch, discussing the relative merits of text-centered hermeneutics and Canonical approaches to Old Testament theology. Now, I know that not everyone is familiar with these terms, and sometimes I think that people come up with these terms in order to shield themselves from the “unwashed masses” and hide in their ivory tower, comfortable in the fact that the common man can’t possibly approach their theological insight. But the real magic is in the definition of the terms. It’s kindof like the Wizard of Oz, where he was just some wimpy dude hiding behind the curtain. We theologians are the same way–wimpy dudes hiding out in our libraries, lording our supposed knowledge over others.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Here, let me demythologize* for you. Text-centered hermeneutics just means that the written words in the Bible itself are all that interpreters should care about. They shouldn’t look at the original author and what he or she meant. The original audience isn’t important. The time and history surrounding the area shouldn’t affect the meaning. The text is the center, and that is all we need to look at. John Sailhamer is a big proponent of this view, and his followers are often called “Hamerheads.”

*That’s a joke for all you Bultmann fans out there.

One of the guys at that lunch was defending this text-centered view by comparing it to a hypothetical situation where the Bible was written today. “Say that we wrote the Bible today and we talked about Tim Tebow. Would future societies need to use archaeology and uncover his jersey and figure out what was going on with Tebowing in order to understand our analogies or would it be enough to know that Tebow was some famous Christian guy?” He obviously thought it would be enough to know just a bit about Tebow, but I kind of quit listening to make some jokes in my head. Or to my neighbor. Or both. Some of our jokes are below. If you don’t get these jokes that’s OK. Just trust that they’re funny.

“These future people would need to lead the first search for the Historical Tebow!” –boom, roasted

You may have read that article online on Grantland where Bill Simmons noted that if God really did send a prophet to speak to the modern day USA, wouldn’t it be in the form of an NFL quarterback? And wouldn’t he confirm the ministry with signs and wonders like throwing for 40% and winning games? And tossing a ridiculous touchdown pass to take down the NFL’s most storied franchise in the playoffs (in OVERTIME)? Well, probably, yes, this person would be the kind of think that could communicate God’s truth to the masses. Probably better than Pat Robertson, right?

Well, if Tim Tebow was God’s prophet, God would start asking him to do Ezekiel style things. You know, like lying on his side for 16 weeks and throw touchdown passes. LET THIS LEFT ARM LIVE!*

*This joke shamelessly stolen from a collaborative effort with my colleague Kyle. I’m sure he doesn’t care.

And I’m sure you’ve seen that graphic circulating on Facebook that shows God answering Tebow’s prayers for a Bronco Super Bowl win by sending Peyton Manning. That is pretty funny.

So what does all this Tebow stuff have to do with text-centered criticism? Well, not much. But that’s OK, because that’s about what Canonical criticism deserves. Boom, Roasted.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 10:07 pm

    It’s not stealing since you properly cited me as the source of the joke. It is now immortalized in the blogosphere for some 23rd century dude to misinterpret because he didn’t find it important to understand the original context–lunchtime in the cafeteria with no sleep. So if it doesn’t seem funny then, he’s wrong! It was HILARIOUS. At least that’s what Buz said, while not laughing…

    • March 30, 2012 10:09 pm

      Yes. I was smiling on the inside while sitting in stunned silence on the outside.

  2. Jimmy Shaw permalink
    March 30, 2012 11:43 pm

    I love the fact that you two are both writing and then commenting on random blog posts while in a phd seminar.

    • March 31, 2012 12:14 am

      We are only wasting time on our break. We are waaaaay too professional to do anything else.

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