Saturday, November 14, 2015

an e-book that illustrates a small point, William Perkins on the Art of Prophesying

Said book is about preaching, and conflates prophesy with the preacher's activity.  For years I'd hear Driscoll say that prophesy was preaching as if it that were the plainest possible sense of the term.  No exegetical or historical case was presented, just the bald assertion. 

Nothing from Zwingli or Bullinger or any Reformer.

Thing is, anyone who bothers to read the Bible at all will eventually see that prophecy, whatever it is, is able to include preaching but cannot be reduced to that. Anyone who takes a look at the Torah and the narratives of the earlier Israelite history (i.e. Joshua, Judges and Samuel, as distinct from debates and discussions about when those books were edited and compiled) will see that the understanding of prophetic activity did not necessarily take the role of the prophet to be what a preacher would do now, or even half a millennia ago.

I'm floating this theory I may get to later this year that what happened in the 1520s to 1540s was a set of polemics within the nascent Reformation in which anti-Catholic and anti-priestly polemics tended to shift the metaphorical understanding of pastoral activity away from its most obvious precedent in the OT law and narrative literature, the priesthood, toward the activity of the prophet.

Certainly people have complained about N. T. Wright and New Perspective types about Paul.  A valid point that's worth raising, however those scholars may be right or wrong about Paul, is their point that we need to consider the biblical texts beyond the fifteen and sixteenth century polemics about doctrines.  This may be particularly useful in the case of what the Reformers had to say about prophecy and prophets because the rhetorical and ideological incentives for the Reformers to see themselves as prophets without conceding an essentially ad hoc nature to the identification can lead people to uncritically take up conclusions they drew at a particular time for particular reasons with particular caveats without understanding, perhaps, what's been done.

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