Thursday, February 11, 2010

In shifting the paradigm why not shift the hermeneutic?

I find it perplexing that we have held on to the same hermeneutic for 2000+ years. Was it Albert Einstein that reasoned that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? I think it was. Now I ask, why you would use the hermeneutic arrived at in the Old Covenant to understand and translate the New Covenant? Yet, that is precisely what has happened. The fact is that historically, church doctrine concerning the scripture has not varied that much from the scripture doctrine of the Pharisees…..Hmnnn.

The Pharisees adopted a bottom up hermeneutic that saw Moses and the Torah as the foundation of all doctrine. It was based upon the concept of specularia and the Rabbis said and I quote: “Of the Hebrew prophets, Moses was pre-eminent and stands in a class by himself. ‘What was the distinction between Moses and the other prophets? The latter looked through nine specularia, cloudy specularia, whereas Moses looked only through one that was clear’ (Everyman’s Talmud, Abraham Cohen, page 123)

This was based upon Numbers 12:6-8; And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. (7) Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. (8) With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" Notice the words he is faithful in all my house and file that for later. The Jews used this passage to prove that Moses and the Torah was clearer revelation from God than any other prophet and for the old covenant, the mosaic covenant, I agree. As a result, all of the scripture had to be interpreted in view of this concept of the clearest specularia.

We have shown in several posts that Jesus and his apostles define the phrase the word of God as either Jesus or the gospel and often it was the gospel. I have suggested that this gives the scripture a solely redemptive focus. But, what about this specularia situation? ….Is there a place in the New Testament writings that suggests that this idea of specularia has changed? The answer is yes. I think that it was overthrown in Hebrews chapter three.
Heb 3:1-7 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, (2) who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. (3) For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses--as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (4) (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) (5) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, (6) but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. (7) Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice,

I have underlined some parts of the above passage to make a point. It is obvious that the writer of Hebrews is using midrash to refer back to Numbers 12:6-8. He is referring to the exact place that the rabbis have used to develop their bottom up specularia and, he is suggesting that Today, they should hear the voice of Jesus….in other words, they should look at scripture the same way that Jesus and his diciples looked at it…redemptively, with a top down interpretation model that changes the specularia from Moses to Jesus. Will take up Matthew 5:17-20 in the next post.
You can find posts that explain various positions of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.


  1. You have to believe in Jesus and believe that He is the Son of God to grasp what you are saying. Those who are following the Old Testament, the old covenant solely, will have a rude awakening when Jesus comes to get His church.

  2. We know that Messiah is is the one "greater than Moses". We know that he has established the New Covenenant, namely the giving of the Holy Spirit as an indwelling reality to both Jew and Gentile who believe.

    But I am not sure that I can agree that we now take a top down approach. The Torah was always seen as redemptive by the Jews. Just read psalm 119. It was the Holy Spirit who wrote the Torah. The New Covenant reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit changes the heart and "causes" the indwelt to obey God's commands. Therefore the Torah is still foundational. The difference in the two covenants is that the old was "external"... the new is internal...(Jerimiah 31:31-34/Ezekiel 36:26) but the specific commands for Jews and Gentiles don't change. (Acts 15/Acts 21)

    The only credibility the New Testament writings have are grounded on Torah. Think about all of the believers in the first century who did not have the writings of the book of Hebrews, the gospels or Paul's letters. What was their foundation? The Torah and the Prophets.

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      While it is true that the Torah was always seen redemptively, The Jews still missed the Messiah, and they based it on their reading of the Torah (John 7:49.) So then, the reading of Torah must be more than messiah centric... It must be Jesus of Nazareth centric and that takes a top down reading. Another aspect is the fact that Jesus and his followers redefined the phrase word of God from Torah to gospel. This gives scripture a completely redemptive focus also.


    2. Hi Joe,
      While it is true that John 7:49 demonstrates that some of the Pharisees (not "the Jews" by the way) missed the Messiah in the Torah. Jesus states in John 5:46-47 that Moses wrote of Him and since they did'nt believe Moses they don't believe Him. This was because, as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 3:16, "a veil covers their hearts." In other words, it is not the Torah that was the problem and according to Jesus the Torah, ie "Moses", speaks of Himself. Paul "reasoned with them from the scriptures." (Acts 17:2) What scriptures?... the Torah and Tanach. Also, I am not sure why you think the followers of Jesus replaced "Torah" as the word of God with "gospel". There both the word of God and in fact can not be separated. The gospel is the proclamation of the fulfillment of the new covenant promise. This "new covenant" is the "Torah" written on our hearts by the Spirit of God. There is no separation between the two. I think the central issue here is the difference between the old and new covenants, not Torah vs. Gospel. The old covenant which included the Torah was redemptive as long as the sacrifical system was in place. The promised new covenant, which includes the Torah written on our hearts, came right before the destruction of the second temple. It is now the only source of redemption because it has the only (and superior) sacrifice.

    3. Hi anonymous,
      All you have to do is click on the categories link for scripture. There are 33 posts in this blog that forcefully show with a preponderance of evidence that Jesus and his followers replaced the definition of the word of God from torah to gospel.


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