It's common to see a link between christology and our approach to the bible. There are limits to this but also benefits. Our approach to both Christ and the bible requires us to encounter something fully human which nonetheless is the Word of God. Christology can therefore teach us a great deal about how the bible as fully human can nonetheless be a fully divine revelation.
In my last post I discussed christology. Namely, the (chronological and methodological) priority of Nicea over Chalcedon. What this means is that we must linger long over Nicea's declaration that Jesus (born of a virgin, crucified under Pontius Pilate) is of one being with the Father (homoousios). The Man Jesus exists wholly within the triune relations which constitute God's being. Whatever else Chalcedon protects - it does not protect Christ's humanity from that Nicene homoousios. The fully human Jesus is a full participant in this divine nature. In this way we protect against a Nestorianism which always threatens to divorce the humanity from the divinity.
What we can then say is this:
- Nestorianism is rejected: In Jesus' humanity (and not apart from it) God is revealed. To put it another way: As the Man Jesus (and not in some other realm of locked-off deity) He brings divine revelation and salvation.
- Adoptionism is rejected: It is not the case that the humanity comes first and is then taken up into deity. The Word became flesh, not the other way around!
- Docetism is rejected: It is not the case that the humanity is an unreal facade which we must push beyond to get to the real (divine) Jesus.
What would this mean when applied to biblical interpretation (i.e. hermeneutics)? Given our OT focus in the last few posts - what would it mean in particular for OT interpretation?
I suggest it means this:
- Nestorianism is rejected: In the humanity of the OT (it's immediate context, complete Jewish-ness, thorough Hebrew-ness) its divine Object (Christ) is revealed. As the prophetic Israelite Scripture that it is (and not in some other locked-off realm of meaning) it is Christian, i.e. a proclamation of Christ.
- Adoptionism is rejected: It is not the case that a lower-level of Jewish meaning comes first and is then added to as it's adopted as Christian Scripture (by the NT). From the beginning, at the very roots of its being, the OT is Christian/Messianic. It is not first Hebrew Scripture and then Christian revelation rather it is Christian revelation that presupposes and brings about the Hebrew Scriptures.
- Docetism is rejected: Having said all this I'm in no way denying the distinctly Israelite/Hebrew/pre-Gentile-inclusion/Mosaic-administration ways in which the Christ is proclaimed. In its own context and on its own terms the OT will proclaim Christ to us. We do not ignore contemporary details - rather we take them very seriously as that in which Christ is made known.
If the christological analogy holds and if this christology is right then I think we need to rule out certain brands of hermeneutics. In particular we should be wary of any theory of interpretation that separates out Jewish-ness and Christian-ness in the OT.
On a similar note, I recently found a great short article on this hermeneutical issue by Nathan Pitchford. His argument is that the reformers' notion of the literal meaning of the text was not something different to its christological meaning. It was the christological meaning. You can also check out his excellent OT series here.