Situational Hermeneutics in the New Testament\u27s Use of the Old


The New Testament’s use of the Old Testament presents some unique hermeneutical challenges. New Testament authors utilize Old Testament texts in ways that do not seem to strictly adhere to modern interpretive methods, and they seem to exhibit multiple hermeneutical methods in their usage of scripture. This study seeks to explore the relationship between these various ways of interpreting scripture, and to propose a consistent way of evaluating the hermeneutical validity of varying usages which can apply to the New Testament’s use of the Old as well as to modern interpretation of the Bible. It begins by discussing the problem under consideration and laying out a methodology which involves comparing two instances of New Testament usage which utilize the same Old Testament text in differing ways. This study then explores two such texts, Romans 9:7 and Hebrews 11:18, which both use the same Old Testament text, Genesis 21:12. It proposes speech act theory as a framework for furnishing a method of consistently evaluating the usage of scripture in multiple situational contexts. This study discusses speech acts as they appear in Romans 9:7, Hebrews 11:18, and Genesis 21:12. Using these texts as examples, it then demonstrates how speech act theory can effectively account for situational factors which render varying interpretations hermeneutically valid within their respective situational contexts. Finally, this study proposes the concept of a situational hermeneutic as a way to broadly account for the variety of ways in which the New Testament uses the Old, and it examines how a situational hermeneutic might be applied to modern usage of scripture

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This paper was published in Liberty University Digital Commons.

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