Friday, December 09, 2005

Some random questions and comments concerning Sensus and References Plenior

So is it possible for a passage of Scripture to mean more than the human author intended? Could the divine author have intended an additional meaning above the author's? If so, what does this do to our idea of the purpose of revelation? How do we know what that "fuller sense" or "fuller referent" is? Did the New Testament authors have, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their writing, a peculiar illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand what the Divine author intended above the human author? If God in the prophecy meant both the original referent and the fuller referent, how can we say that the first one is fulfilled? Theodore of Mopsuestia (though I am not certain, were he alive today, that he would embrace sensus or references plenior) would say that the hyperbolic and puzzling nature of the prophetic language would show that a greater fulfillment could be antcipated by the readers of the prophecy. It showed itself to be fulfilled in "shadow," while Christ fulfilled the prophecy in "reality" or "fact." Yet there do seem to be some Scriptures that indicate the possibility of sensus or references plenior. Darrell Bock cites these three passages to show that the Divine author may use an oracle to have greater meaning than the human author understood:

Daniel 12:5-9 (English Standard Version)
English Standard Version (ESV)
5Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 6And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, "How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?" 7And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. 8I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, "O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?" 9He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.
John 11:44-52 (English Standard Version)
English Standard Version (ESV)
44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
1 Peter 1:10-12 (English Standard Version)
English Standard Version (ESV)
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Ed Glenny also wrote an article on this subject for JETS.

12/09/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

Amen to Sensus Plenior

12/09/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I am not necessary opposed to it, I just have questions. The passages are the most convincing argument.

12/09/2005 12:58:00 PM  

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Immoderate: Some random questions and comments concerning <i>Sensus</I> and <i>References Plenior</i>

Friday, December 09, 2005

Some random questions and comments concerning Sensus and References Plenior

So is it possible for a passage of Scripture to mean more than the human author intended? Could the divine author have intended an additional meaning above the author's? If so, what does this do to our idea of the purpose of revelation? How do we know what that "fuller sense" or "fuller referent" is? Did the New Testament authors have, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their writing, a peculiar illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand what the Divine author intended above the human author? If God in the prophecy meant both the original referent and the fuller referent, how can we say that the first one is fulfilled? Theodore of Mopsuestia (though I am not certain, were he alive today, that he would embrace sensus or references plenior) would say that the hyperbolic and puzzling nature of the prophetic language would show that a greater fulfillment could be antcipated by the readers of the prophecy. It showed itself to be fulfilled in "shadow," while Christ fulfilled the prophecy in "reality" or "fact." Yet there do seem to be some Scriptures that indicate the possibility of sensus or references plenior. Darrell Bock cites these three passages to show that the Divine author may use an oracle to have greater meaning than the human author understood:

Daniel 12:5-9 (English Standard Version)
English Standard Version (ESV)
5Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 6And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, "How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?" 7And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. 8I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, "O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?" 9He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.
John 11:44-52 (English Standard Version)
English Standard Version (ESV)
44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
1 Peter 1:10-12 (English Standard Version)
English Standard Version (ESV)
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Ed Glenny also wrote an article on this subject for JETS.

12/09/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

Amen to Sensus Plenior

12/09/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I am not necessary opposed to it, I just have questions. The passages are the most convincing argument.

12/09/2005 12:58:00 PM  

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