Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

Francis Watson on Paul and Habakkuk:

If it seems self-evident that the apostle and the prophet can have little or nothing in common, this betrays the continuing influence of a hermeneutic according to which texts are addressed to and contained by their immediate circumstances of origin, and that all subsequent usage marks a deviation from their "original meaning". In the present discussion, the limitations of this hermeneutic have become clear at point after point. The text of Habakkuk explicitly presents itself as written for a future of unknown duration; it privileges the reader over the author, and confines its reference to an identifiable historical situation toa single allusion to the "Chaldeans". It is the same "canonical process", but at a more advanced stage, that leads to the incorporation of this book within the larger collection of the Book of the Twelve. While the arrangement of the book is designed to reflect the unfolding canonical history, it also expresses the conviction that these products of earlier historical situations continue to lay claim to the present, and that their pastness is to be subsumed in the message they address to the present. There is clear continuity between the text's orientation towards its future reader and the logic of the larger canonical collection. Indeed, since we possess the text of Habakkuk only within the canonical Book of the Twelve, and as part of that larger book, the attempt to restore the entire book to a Sitz im Leben within the obscurity of "pre-exilic" Judah can only be regarded as historically naive and hermeneutically perverse."

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