And This Was How Hermeneutics Came to My Life

Well, I came across some very exciting news while browsing Zondervan’s homepage: Walter Kaiser and Moisés Silva’s An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning (1994) will be released in a second edition this coming November!

I encountered this book in 1996, at the tender age of 18. I immediately fell in love with it, and it is no exaggeration to say that it irreversibly set the course of my academic interests. Not only that, but Kaiser and Silva became teachers and dialog partners along the way, and I set about then to find and read every book, article, review, and scrap note that they ever publishedan endeavor, incidentally, in which I’m still actively engaged.

silva_thumbSilva, in particular, had a powerful draw on me: the breadth of his erudition, his sophisticated grasp of linguistics, and his superb abilities as a scholarly writer simply blew me away. In fact, had he not retired from teaching c. 2000, I would be filing right now to whichever institution had him on staff, no matter how remote or impregnable. Still, my debt to him is enormous. A little later I encountered his Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics (1983; 2nd ed., 1994), the published form of his ThM thesis, which I swallowed whole with the cover. And the during the summer of 1997, I found a discounted copy of Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation, a six- (originally seven-) volume series under his general editorship which had only recently been published in a single volume. Needless to say, Silva’s own contributions to the series, Has the Church Misread the Bible? (1987) and God, Language, and Scripture (1990), were the highlight of my summer reading. Recently it dawned on me that I was thus reading Silva exactly 30 summers after he prepared for his upcoming exegesis course at Westminster by reading Lightfoot’s commentary on Galatians. To this day, Silva reserves the term “perfect” for Lightfoot; and to this day, I reserve the term “infallible” for Silva. (Take that, Caragounis!)

Later still I read Silva’s wonderful commentary on Philippians (1992), which along with his Explorations in Exegetical Method: Galatians as a Test Case (1996) became the model for my own exegetical methoda model from which I undoubtedly fall short at every turn. (Note that, since then, both works by Silva have been released in second editions: see Philippians [2005] and the perhaps more aptly titled Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method [2001].) But above all, it was Silva’s chapter 14 in the first edition of his and Kaiser’s book, “The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics,” that laid before me the prospect of a truly and consciously theological hermeneutics. In turn this program, which I adopted wholeheartedly, lead me to search for a normative exegesis, which brought me first to the Magisterial Reformation, and then to what the Reformers considered to be their own normative exegesis: that of the Church Fathers.

Kaiser-thumbI am greatly indebted to Kaiser as well, but I never realized to what extent until, given the chance to teach a freshman class all they would hear about Old Testament prophetic literature, I opened my mouth, and Kaiser spoke. I can’t think about Old Testament theology without thinking primarily of “Promise,” nor indeed about the relationship between Law and Gospel without thinking of the “weightier matters of the Law” as a key issue.

So it is that now, 11 years after meeting Kaiser and Silva for the first time through An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, I’m eagerly looking forward to meeting them anew through this second edition of Our Book.

So you want to read something by Silva? No problem! Here you go:

Oh, and Kaiser too? Okay!

One response to “And This Was How Hermeneutics Came to My Life

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