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VARIETY OF CONTEXT.
necessarily excludes the other. He who receives circumcision as a means of justification (verse 2) virtually excludes Christ, whose gospel calls for no such work. If one seeks justification in a law of works, he binds himself to keep the whole law (verse 3); for then not circumcision only, but the whole law, must be minutely observed. Then, with a marked emphasis and force of words, he adds: “ Ye were severed from Christ, whoever of you are being (assuming to be) justified in law, ye fell away from grace.” Ye cut yourselves off from the system of grace (rñs xápitos). The word grace, then, is here to be understood not as a gracious attainment of personal experience, but as the gospel system of salvation. From this system they apostatized who sought justification in law.
It will be obvious from the above that the connexion of thought in any given passage may depend on a variety of considerations. It may be a historical connexion, in that may be historifacts or events recorded are connected in a chronolog- dogmatic, logiical sequence. It may be historico-dogmatic, in that a cal, or psycho
logical. doctrinal discourse is connected with some historic fact or circumstance. It may be a logical connexion, in that the thoughts or arguments are presented in logical order; or it may be psychological, because dependent on some association of ideas. This latter often occasions a sudden breaking off from a line of thought, and may serve to explain some of the parenthetical passages and instances of anacoluthon so frequent in the writings of Paul.
Too much stress cannot well be laid upon the importance of closely studying the context, scope, and plan. Many a Importance of passage of Scripture will not be understood at all with- studying
context, scope, out the help afforded by the context; for many a sen- and plan. tence derives all its point and force from the connexion in which it stands. So, again, a whole section may depend, for its proper exposition, upon our understanding the scope and plan of the writer's argument. How futile would be a proof text drawn from the Book of Job unless, along with the citation, it were observed whether it were an utterance of Job himself, or of one of his three friends, or of Elihu, or of the Almighty! Even Job's celebrated utterance in chapter xix, 25–27, should be viewed in reference to the scope of the whole book, as well as to his intense anguish and emotion at that particular stage of the controversy.'
Some religious teachers are fond of employing scriptural texts simply as mottoes, with little or no regard to their true connexion. Thus they too often adapt them to their use by imparting to them a factitious sense foreign to their proper scope and meaning. The seeming gain in all such cases is more than counterbalanced by the loss and danger that attend the practice. It encourages the habit of interpreting
“In considering the connexion of parts in a section," says David
son, “and the amount of meaning they express, acuteand ability ness and critical tact are much needed. We may be needed.
able to tell the significations of single terms, and yet be utterly inadequate to unfold a continuous argument. A capacity for verbal analysis does not impart the talent of expounding an entire paragraph. Ability to discover the proper causes, the natural sequence, the pertinency of expressions to the subject discussed, and the delicate distinctions of thought which characterize particular kinds of composition, is distinct from the habit of carefully tracing out the various senses of separate terms. It is a higher faculty; not the child of diligence, but rather of original, intellectual ability. Attention may sharpen and improve, but cannot create it. All men are not endowed with equal acuteness, nor fitted to detect the latent links of associated ideas by their outward symbols. They cannot alike discern the idiosyncrasies of various writers as exhibited in their composition. But the verbal philologist is not necessarily incapacitated by converse with separate signs of ideas from unfolding the mutual bearings of an entire paragraph. Imbued with a philosophic spirit, he may successfully trace the connexion subsisting between the various parts of a book, while he notes the commencement of new topics, the propriety of their position, the interweaving of argumentation, interruptions and digressions, and all the characteristic peculiarities exhibited in a particular composition. In this he may be mightily assisted by a just perception of those particles which have been designated ÉTea TimepóEVTA (winged words), not less than by sympathy with the spirit of the author whom he seeks to understand. By placing himself as much as possible in the circumstances of the writer, and contemplating from the same elevation the important phenomena to which his rapt mind was directed, he will be in a favourable position for understanding the parts and proportions of a connected discourse.”
Scripture in an arbitrary and fanciful way, and thus furnishes the teachers of error with their most effective weapon. The practice cannot be defended on any plea of necessity. The plain words of Scripture, legitimately interpreted according to their proper scope and context, contain a fulness and comprehensiveness of meaning sufficient for the wants of all men in all circumstances. That piety alone is robust and healthful which is fed, not by the fancies and speculations of the preacher who practically puts his own genius above the word of God, but by the pure doctrines and precepts of the Bible, unfolded in their true connexion and meaning. Barrows, Intro duction to the Study of the Bible, p. 456.
1 Sacred Hermeneutics, p. 240.
COMPARISON OF PARALLEL PASSAGES.
THERE are portions of Scripture in the exposition of which we are not to look for help in the context or scope. The Book some parts of of Proverbs, for example, is composed of numerous out logical conseparate aphorisms, many of which have no necessary text. connection with each other. The book itself is divisible into eral collections of proverbs; and separate sections, like that concerning the evil woman in chapter vii, and the words of wisdom in chapters viii and ix, have a unity and completeness in themselves, through which a connected train of thought is discernible. But many of the proverbs are manifestly without connexion with what precedes or follows. Thus the twentieth and twenty-first chapters of Proverbs may be studied ever so closely, and no essential connexion of thought appears to hold any two of the verses together. The same will be found true of other portions of this book, which from its very nature is a collection of apothegms, each one of which may stand by itself as a concise expression of aphoristic wisdom. Several parts of the Book of Ecclesiastes consist of proverbs, soliloquies, and exhortations, which appear to have no vital relation to each other. Such, especially, are to be found in chapters v-x, Accordingly, while the scope and general subject-matter of the entire book are easily discerned, many eminent critics have despaired of finding in it any definite plan or logical arrangement. The Gospels, also, contain some passages which it is impossible to explain as having any essential connexion with either that which precedes or follows.
On such isolated texts, as also on those not so isolated, a comparison of parallel passages of Scripture often throws much light. For words, phrases, and historical or doctrinal lel passages. statements, which in one place are difficult to understand, are often set forth in clear light by the additional statements with which they stand connected elsewhere. Thus, as shown above (pp. 113-116), the comparatively isolated passage in Luke xvi, 16, is much more clear and comprehensive when studied in the light of its context in Matt. xi, 12. Without the help of parallel passages, some words and statements of the Scripture would scarcely be intelligible. As we ascertain the usus loquendi of words from a wide collation of passages
Value of paral
The Bible a self
in which they occur, so the sense of an entire passage may be elucidated by a comparison with its parallel in another place. “The employment of parallel passages,” says Immer, “must go hand in hand with attention to the connexion. The mere explanation according to the connexion often fails to secure the certainty that is desired, at least in cases where the linguistic usage under consideration and the analogous thought cannot at the same time be otherwise established.” 1
“In comparing parallels,” says Davidson, “it is proper to observe a certain order. In the first place we should seek for parallels in the writings of the same author, as the same peculiarities of conception and modes of expression are liable to return in different works proceeding from one person. There is a certain co guration of mind which manifests itself in the productions of one man. Each writer is distinguished by a style more or less his own; by characteristics which would serve to identify him with the emanations of his intellect, even were his name withheld. Hence the reasonableness of expecting parallel passages in the writings of one author to throw most light upon each other.” * But we should also remember that the Scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments are a world by themselves. Although interpreting written at sundry times, and devoted to many differ
ent themes, taken altogether they constitute a selfinterpreting book. The old rule, therefore, that “Scripture must be interpreted by Scripture,” is a most important principle of sacred hermeneutics. But we must avoid the danger of overstepping in this matter. Some have gone too far in trying to make Daniel explain the Revelation of John, and it is equally possible to distort a passage in Kings or in Chronicles by attempting to make it parallel with some statement of Paul. In general we may expect to find the most valuable parallels in books of the same class. Historical passages will be likely to be paralleled with historical, prophetic with prophetic, poetic with poetic, and argumentative and hortatory with those of like character. Hosea and Amos will be likely to have more in common than Genesis and Proverbs; Matthew and Luke will be expected to be more alike than Matthew and one of the Epistles of Paul, and Paul's Epistles naturally exhibit many parallels both of thought and language.
Nor should we overlook the fact that almost all we know of the history of the Jewish people is embodied in the Bible. The apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books and the works of Josephus are the principal outside sources. These different books may, then, be
*Hermeneutics of the New Testament, p. 159. ? Hermeneutics, p. 251.
REAL AND VERBAL PARALLELS.
fairly expected to interpret themselves. Their spirit and purpose, their modes of thought and expression, their doctrinal teachings, and, to some extent, their general subject matter, would be naturally expected to have a self-conformity. When, upon examination, we find that this is the case, we shall the more fully appreciate the importance of comparing all parallel portions and reading them in each other's light.
Parallel passages have been commonly divided into two classes, verbal and real, according as that which constitutes the parallel consists in words or in like subject matter. and real. Where the same word occurs in similar connexion, or in reference to the same general subject, the parallel is called verbal. The use of such parallel passages has been shown above in determining the meaning of words. Real parallels are those similar passages in which the likeness or identity consists, not in words or phrases, but in facts, subjects, sentiments, or doctrines. Parallels of this kind are sometimes subdivided into historic and didactic, according as the subject matter consists of historical events or matters of doctrine. But all these divisions are, perhaps, needless refinements. The careful expositor will consult all parallel passages, whether they be verbal, historical, or doctrinal; but in actual interpretation he will find little occasion to discriminate formally between these different classes.
The great thing to determine, in every case, is whether the passages adduced are really parallel. A verbal parallel may be as real as one that embodies many correspond- have a real cor
respondency. ing sentiments, for a single word is often decisive of a doctrine or a fact. On the other hand, there may be a likeness of sentiment without any real parallelism. Proverbs xxii, 2, and xxix, 13, are usually taken as parallels, but a close inspection will show that though there is a marked similarity of sentiment, there is no essential identity or real parallelism. The first passage is: “Rich and poor meet together; maker of all of them is Jehovah." We need not assume that this meeting together is in the grave (Co
The secnant) or in the conflicts (way) of life in a hostile sense. ond passage, properly rendered, is: “The poor and the man of oppressions meet together; an enlightener of the eyes of both of them is Jehovah." Here the man of oppressions is not necessarily a rich man; nor is enlightener of the eyes an equivalent of maker in xxii, 2. Hence, all that can be properly said of these two passages is, that they are similar in sentiment, but not strictly parallel or identical in sense.
See above, pages 84, 85.