Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sensus plenior

sensus plenior - Latin, "fuller sense". According to Wikipedia in Bible exegesis, "sensus plenior is used to describe the 'deeper meaning intended by God' but not intended by the human author."

"...Moo acknowledges Sensus Plenior has almost become short hand for an explanation of a text that cannot be explained (satisfactorily) by the grammatical-historical method." Darren Middleton,
Divine Meaning or Authorial Intention: Sensus Plenior - a Blessing or Curse for Evangelical Hermeneutics, p. 5

"In my opinion sensus plenior, though attractive to many, will quickly turn into a curse -- a curse that evangelical hermeneutics could well do without." Darren Middleton, Divine Meaning or Authorial Intention, p. 10

Readers, what is your sense of this as a concept of Bible interpretation?


Bro. Matt said...

I believe there is some value to this, however, there must be caution so as to not "read into" what we think God is saying or doing. It obviously could open the door for, "Well, I believe it means this..." type arguments.

R. L. Vaughn said...

It does seem possible to draw such a comparison with Hosea 11:1 and Matt. 2:15, for example -- "Out of Egypt have I called my son." (This one is discussed in the linked article).

But if we decided to apply "sensus plenior" randomly, we could just make any verse mean anything we want it to.

clinch64 said...

The book of Revelation comes to mind regarding this. You could actually interpret the entire book about anyway you wanted to.

I don't believe it was meant to understand every part of the Bible. If we did, then we would be equal with God.

Anonymous said...

It's a valid point. One example only: Isaiah 8.18 as interpreted or applied in Hebrews 2.13. There are probably dozens of instances like this. You and Bro. Matt are right; this principle does not grant license to make any text mean whatever one likes, as the Amillennialists do.

Anonymous said...

If sensus plenior is real, then God would have a way to determine the meaning without resorting to subjective techniques. For instance:
In Hebrew words have multiple meanings:
'rib' also means 'limping' and 'side'.
'sleep' also means 'death'
'flesh' also means 'mankind'
'took' also means 'married'

Anyone can verify these with a Hebrew dictionary.

With a simple substitution of Christ for Adam (since Adam is a type of Christ) Gen 2:21 now reads:
"And God caused Christ to die and he died, and he married his limping side and redeemed mankind."

There is nothing subjective about it. What is his limping side? The side with the bruised heel.

This is more akin to double entendre than to mysticism because the second meaning is firmly attached to the words.

There are rules obtained from the scriptures that constrain the meaning of the activity I just did. And so far, every verse I have tackled has a second meaning.

I hope this blesses you.