Monday, February 19, 2007

The Spirit of Understanding

I have been reading Kevin Vanhoozer's marvelous chapter entitled, "The Spirit of Understanding". The following section describes the transformative role of the Holy Spirit in hermeneutics in clear and decisive ways:

"The Spirit progressively disabuses us of those ideological or idolatrous prejudices that prevent us from receiving the message. In so doing, the Spirit renders the Word effective. To read in the Spirit does not mean to import some new sense to the text, but rather to let the letter be, or better, to apply the letter rightly to one's life. The Spirit of understanding is the efficacy of the Word, it perlocutionary power. According to John Owen, the Spirit is 'the primary efficient cause' of our understanding of Scripture. Yet the Spirit's illumining work is not independent of our own efforts to understand.' It is the Spirit's activity, effected through our own labor in exegesis, analysis, and application, of showing us what the text means for us'."

Inspiring stuff.

Further Reading:
VĂ nhoozer, Ken J. (1997) "The Spirit of Understanding: Special Revelation and General Hermeneutics." in Disciplining Hermeneutics: Interpretation in Christian Perspective. Foreword by Roger Lundin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.