Inspired by Ben Meyer’s “Worst theological invention” and “worst liturgical invention” posts, I thought I would open nominations for the “Most Fruitful Examples of Biblical Interpretation.” By this I mean particular examples of interpretation/exegesis that illuminate a biblical passage in a significant way. More specifically, I am looking for examples of particular critical methodologies applied to specific texts, whether the texts are classic difficult texts or texts that are (too) familiar.
Perhaps some examples would help clarify what I am looking for.
- Mary Douglas’s Anthropological Approach to Purity in Leviticus. In contrast to the traditional interpretations that either see the purity laws in Leviticus as arbitrary, connected with pagan worship, or examples of ancient medicine, Douglas’s anthropological approach understands them as having to do with wholeness and normality and are based on the Priestley worldview.
- Honour and Shame for Reading the Bible. While this one is admittedly broad, the value of social-scientific understandings of honour and shame for the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean world are difficult to underestimate.
- The Comparative Method for understanding the Plagues. Sarna’s (and others) view how the plagues against the Egyptians may be understood as polemics against Egyptian religion.
These are just some simple examples, not necessarily the best nor the most compelling.
What examples can you think of?