Sunday, December 18, 2011

Biblical exegesis and interfaith sensitivity

I'm reading a new massive commentary on the Roman Missal by the Liturgical Press. It's very helpful for my research on the new translations of the Eucharistic Prayers, but every now and then it rubs me the wrong way with statements like these (emphasis added):
A mystagogy of EP IV needs to point out that the early church or a patristic typological interpretation of OT passages can be problematic for contemporary interfaith sensibilities. Appreciation of the prayer does need to carry with it a certain note of caution concerning its appropriation of Jewish salvation history. In other words, contemporary exegesis of OT texts lets the Hebrew Scriptures stand on their own terms. That being said, the biblical approach of EP IV can be valued and appreciated on its own terms as long as one is aware of the contemporary critique. It is important to note that the NT texts themselves often approach the Hebrew Scriptures typologically. (A Commentary on the Order of Mass of The Roman Missal: A New English Translation, pp. 427-428)
While contemporary interfaith sensibilities might justly govern interfaith activities, there is no need to abandon the scriptural tradition of the Church in reading the Old Testament in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Yes, this is not just an "early church" tradition (as in going back to, say, St. Ignatius of Antioch), it is a scriptural Church tradition:  the evangelists did it, the apostles did it, John the Baptist did it, and Jesus Himself did it.  I see no reason to avoid typological interpretation of the Bible in a mystagogical context.

Perhaps this will come off sounding insensitive, but do we risk losing parts of our authentic Catholic identity, to use a Johannine phrase, "for fear of the Jews"?


Weekend Fisher said...

And it's not even a 100% honest complaint, there. It's a longstanding Jewish tradition that any Scripture could typify the Messiah and *all prophetic Scripture* had a Messianic meaning. It's also a well-accepted principle in Jewish interpretation that a Scripture can have more than one meaning. Beyond that, it's a well-accepted Jewish interpretive principle that passages that share similar phrases or words were seen to reflect on each other and reveal new shades of meaning.

So the "One True Meaning" and "each text on its own terms" isn't how the ancient Jews read Scriptures. Taken to its extremes, that move is testing if Christians can be pressured into backing down -- or worse, disowning the apostles or Christ's teachings -- to avoid being called names.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Hi Anne! I was just perusing the old Reconciliation Carnivals this weekend.

Thank you for your comment. The similarities between Jewish and Christian exegetical methods helps shed some light on the matter.

Robert Hagedorn said...

Challenge yourself. Google First Scandal.