Friday, January 29, 2010

Christological filters

I was initially startled to find a recent post over at Energetic Procession that actually engages the text of Scripture. An exegetical critique of Presbyterian ordination.

Now, it’s almost unheard of for Perry Robison to even make a token gesture towards Biblical exegesis. His standing excuse is that Protestant hermeneutics and Orthodox hermeneutics are incommensurable. According to him, you can’t properly interpret the Bible unless you filter the Bible through the prism of Eastern Orthodox Christology.

However, there’s a reason why this post marks such a radical break with Perry’s MO. And that’s because, on closer inspection, it wasn’t posted by Perry at all. Instead, it was posted by Michael Garten.

The thrust in the post seems to combine Garten’s summary of Felix Cirlot’s analysis with some of Garten’s own supporting arguments.

For now I’m not going to comment on the specifics. Instead, I’ll make a general observation.

The post generates an unintended paradox. And that’s because, in his exegesis of 1 Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim 1:6, Garten doesn’t apply a Greek Orthodox Christological filter to the text. Rather, he simply applies his own logic to the text. It’s basically an exercise in logical analysis by comparing one text with another. There’s nothing distinctively Christological about his methodology.

And that, in turn, generates the paradox. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that his interpretation is sound. If so, then he arrived at that interpretation without recourse a Christological lens.

So if we judge Garten’s argument by Robinson’s yardstick, then, at best, Garten accidentally arrived at the right destination. He got there in despite using the wrong hermeneutical roadmap.

So either we need Christological hermeneutics or we don’t. If Christological hermeneutics is a prerequisite to sound exegesis, then we can summarily dismiss Garten’s interpretation. But if his interpretation is sound, then Christological hermeneutics is superfluous. As it stands, his means subvert his ends.


  1. "As it stands, his means subvert his ends."

    Doncha hate it when you mistakenly do it to yourself?

    And doncha love it when the other guy does it to himself?

  2. If You're interested in Christological or Theological significations of the Priesthood, You may easily find them in the Ignatian Epitles.

    The idea is that the monarchical bishop represents the monarchy of the Father.

    And the text was not interepted in any peculiar or particular manner, but in conformity with patristic writings and church tradition.

  3. Don't worry 'bout me, M.D. : I got banned here a long-long time ago...