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Leviticus 17:10-16--Presuppositions and Preliminary Literary Matters

Leviticus 17:10-16--Presuppositions and Preliminary Literary Matters

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Published by Justin Langley
Focused on introducing Leviticus 17:10-16, this paper also introduces my own active presuppositions for interpreting Scripture and seeks to set this paragraph in its context. This paper was submitted for a course on Old Testament Exegesis at Wheaton College Graduate School.
Focused on introducing Leviticus 17:10-16, this paper also introduces my own active presuppositions for interpreting Scripture and seeks to set this paragraph in its context. This paper was submitted for a course on Old Testament Exegesis at Wheaton College Graduate School.

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Published by: Justin Langley on Apr 22, 2010
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WHEATON COLLEGELEVITICUS 17:10-16—PRESUPPOSITIONS AND PRELIMINARY LITERARY MATTERSSUBMITTED TO DR. JOHN WALTONIN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFBITH 562-INTRODUCTION TO OLD TESTAMENT EXEGESISBYJUSTIN LANGLEYFEBRUARY 4, 2010CPO: 4224
 
INTRODUCTION AND PRESUPPOSITIONSThe creator of the universe has graciously revealed himself to humanity in the form of human language. He has chosen to preserve this revelation in the form of a book, or, more precisely, a collection of documents written by many different people over the course of manycenturies. Beyond this, he culminated his self-revelation in the form of a person, Jesus theMessiah, in whom the fullness of deity and complete humanity came together (see, e.g., Col 2:9;Heb 2:14, 17; John 1:14, 18). The documents recognized by Christians through the centuriessince the death and resurrection of Jesus as “holy Scripture” serve as the written testimony of God’s identity and work in the world through Jesus. These Scriptures, while written byindividual human beings in various literary forms, have their ultimate source in God himself (see, e.g., 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21). Thus, the collection of documents known now as the Bible bears a fundamental uniqueness among all the literature of the world: an asymmetrical dualauthorship by which God communicated his intended message to all of humanity in and throughthe writing of human authors who also communicated their intended messages to particular audiences of human readers/hearers.In interpreting any work of literature, a reader must grapple with the methods he or shewill use to draw meaning from the text. Truly, whether or not the reader consciously comes tocertain conclusions with regard to hermeneutical methodology, he will undeniably approach agiven text in certain ways, asking certain questions to determine meaning from the text. For example, one must decide
where
to seek meaning from the text (i.e., in the text itself, in the1
 
2reader, or in the author’s intention). If the
reader 
defines the meaning of a text, the reader mustthen figure out how to validate the meaning he has defined against other readers’ determinationof different meanings. On the other hand, if the reader decides that the author has a particular meaning she desires to communicate in and through the words and forms she has written down,then the reader has to figure out how to access the author’s intention. In addition, if the reader grants that the author intended to communicate a particular message through the words she wrotedown, the reader must decide whether or not he will assume that she has the capacity tocommunicate clearly and consistently. With regard to the biblical text, since God stands behindthe text as its primary source, Christian readers approach the text expecting to find that he hascommunicated clearly, consistently, and authoritatively.Christians may refer to the authority of the biblical text, but authority does not reside intexts; rather, authority characterizes persons who may exercise their authority in certain ways or communicate their authority by means of texts or other media. Therefore, when Christians speak of the authority of the Bible they actually refer to the authority of God himself who hascommunicated in and through the Bible. Thus, as Christian readers approach the Scriptures theyrecognize the importance of diligently seeking the divine author’s intended message because henot only spoke with the desire that the original readers of each individual document shouldrespond in certain ways, but he also spoke with the desire that readers of every nation andgeneration should respond in certain ways.Furthermore, when discussing authority more generally with regard to any text, readersought to recognize the authority of the author. The reader should acknowledge that the author intended to communicate certain things when he wrote down words on a page. He had in mindan audience, even if that audience lacked specificity (e.g., all adult women, all Christians, etc.).

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