Saturday, December 01, 2012

God's word for posterity

Some books of the Bible (e.g. the Psalter, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) are anthologies. Indeed, the Psalter contains collections within collections.

This requires us to draw two basic distinctions. We must distinguish between the time of the individual compositions, and the time of their canonical compilation. We must also distinguish between the audience for the individual composition and the audience for the subsequent anthology.

The original speeches or writings were addressed to the contemporaries of the prophet, psalmist, or proverbialist. By contrast, the anthology is addressed to a later audience. That’s for the posterity’s benefit. What is more, the earlier sayings or writings are taken to be comprehensible to posterity. For instance, some psalms were composed centuries before the final edition.

This underscores the fact that the Scriptures were given with a view to a time when the original authors were dead. When the writers were long gone, and we’d be left with their writings. When we’d have to judge what they meant by what they wrote. 

That’s useful to keep in mind when Catholics attack sola Scriptura or the perspicuity of Scripture.

No comments:

Post a Comment