Tuesday, February 09, 2016

No Falling Words

Dale Ralph Davis in the Preface to his commentary on Joshua, No Falling Words.

My purpose has been to provide a model of what a pastor can do in biblical study if he will sweat over the Hebrew text and assume that the text as we have it was meant to be bread from God for his people. My conviction is that if one is willing to keep his Hebrew Bible before his eyes, a congregation of God’s people next to his heart, and the struggle of hermeneutics (i.e., what does this writer intend to proclaim to God’s people in his time, and how do I faithfully hold to that intention and helpfully apply that text to God’s contemporary flock?) in his mind, he will have manna to set before God’s hungering people.

Clearly, I think commentaries should be written from this conviction and after this pattern. I never felt I could expect my college or seminary students to warm to the Old Testament unless they sensed it nurturing them as they heard it taught. (Why should not the Spirit be at work in our classrooms?) But if once they felt the fire of the Old Testament text ˗ well, then, the Old Testament becomes a new book to them! Certainly, all the technical matters (linguistic, archaeological, critical) are in order; but we must bring the fragments together in an expository treatment that is not ashamed to stoop to the level of application.

 In recent years, evangelicals have made much of the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture. Rightly so. But three “i’s” is not enough. We must push the “instruct-ability” of Scripture. The apostle was surely completely sober when he wrote that the Old Testament is “profitable” (2 Tim.3:16). We must demonstrate that. If the church is to recover the Old Testament, our expositions of it must show that, without torturing or twisting, it speaks for the comfort and correction of the saints.

 I trust No Falling Words approximates such standards. The title comes from Joshua 21:43-45, the sheet anchor of the book (precisely, from v.45; see also 23:14). There were no falling words among the ancient Genesis promises; no falling words means no failing words. I trust readers will find the same ˗ that God’s promise contains no falling words, only standing ones, upon which we, too, can stand.
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