Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Kostenberger Hermeneutic

Margaret Kostenberger begins her book, “Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say that He Is?”, with a foundational part I to her book. In chapter 2, called “What’s At Stake: It’s Hermeneutics!”, Kostenberger comments on the hermeneutical issue she calls “a canon within a canon”:

“Though there is a diversity of perspectives represented in the biblical books, there is no justification for a ‘canon within a canon’ as many feminists have postulated. Feminists regularly seek to determine the ‘central message of Scripture’ and to interpret portions of Scripture that seem to be at variance with that central message in light of it. The problem with this procedure, however, is that only what is considered to be the central message is important while less central passages may be neglected. Also, there is danger in an interpreter ARBITRARILY SELECTING a ‘central theme’ of Scripture in keeping with her preference while neglecting teachings that are COUNTERCULTURAL or otherwise offensive” (“Jesus and the Feminists,” page 32).

Kostenberger claims that to assert a “canon within a canon” is absurdity; but, evidently, she’s never read Galatians 6:15-16...Just so we can all see what it says, I’ll publish it here:

15For(A) neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but(B) a new creation. 16And as for all who walk by this rule,(C) peace and mercy be upon them, and upon(D) the Israel of God.

The word in the Greek for “rule” is “kanoni,” from which our English word “canon” descends. What Paul is telling us here is that the New Creation Rule is a standard that all who are in Christ Jesus should follow. When we are specifically told (as we are here) of a rule by which to govern our interaction with those in the body of Christ, then we are charged to follow it. If we believe Scripture is inspired and inerrant, then we accept Paul’s words and understand that he did not have an “uninspired moment” when he wrote these words to the Galatians.

New Creation, then, IS the “canon” (standard) within a canon (our canonical books of the Bible), and we are to interpret ALL of Scripture in light of the equality all humanity has “in Christ.

Are there several different perspectives in Scripture? Yes—but there is a hermeneutical consistency to Scripture—which means that “Scripture interprets Scripture.” If there ever “seems” to be two contradictory passages, then the error lies in the INTERPRETATION, not the passage itself.

Kostenberger doesn’t seem to understand that, by attacking the hermeneutic of the feminist (including egalitarians, whom she calls “feminists”), she offers a hermeneutic of her own. And what is Kostenberger’s hermeneutic? Patriarchalism. But where is that found in Scripture?

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