There is a basic rule of Biblical hermeneutics that is important to remember: whatever the text may or may not mean today, its primary meaning must be for the original recipients. I believe that scripture speaks to us today — and is authoritative; I affirm that “ll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” But in interpretation, we need to remember that we start with trying to figure out what the text meant to the original author and audience and only then ask what it means to us 2,000 years later.
In some cases, how a text was understood and applied 2000 (or 5000) years ago is very different than today. The main reason for this is what I can “narrative hinges”.
Narrative hinges are game-changing moments that radically change the BIG STORY radically and irrevocably. Hinges are key to hermeneutics. When reading texts written prior to a certain hinger, today — as faithful believers — we must read that text through the lense of the hinge. First we ask what it meant to the original audience, and then we read it through the lense of the hinge and apply it to us.
Hinges are, as I said, game-changing and history-rocking moments and cataclysmic events. Here is a summary of the key narrative hinges in the Bible — by no means comprehensive, but I think these are the big ones.
- Noahic Covenant
- Abrahamic Covenant
- The Exodus from Egypt
- Mosaic Covenant
- Promised Land
- The Era of Kings
- Davidic Covenant
- The First Temple
- The Second Temple
- INCARNATION (Christmas)
- New Covenant
You can see that while all these narrative hinges are big, they are not all equal. I would argue that collectively the hinges of INCARNATION/CRUCIFIXION/RESURRECTION (in other words, the life and work of Jesus) is THE HINGE — not just of the Biblical narrative — but of ALL HISTORY.
If this is true then all interpretation of texts must be done through the lens of Jesus.
I will explore more about the implications of a “Jesus-centric hermeneutic” on Friday… today I am just laying out the foundation for why hinges — and specifically the life and work of Jesus — is so critical to good interpretation and application of scripture.