Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Protestant Priest

I recently read the following in David Bentley Hart’s New Testament by Scot McKnight:
So to an important point: the authority is the original text, not the translation. The original texts are in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). The authoritative text is not in English, regardless of how accurate the translation. No matter which translation you prefer, it is not the authoritative text for determining which translation is best. Yes, we need more to devote more time to study of the original languages.
It seems the modern Protestant world, obsessed with language studies and new translations, inch ever closer to the idea of a “Protestant Priest” who must interpret the word of God to lay members of the churches. God forbid!


Will Fitzgerald said...


I think almost the opposite is true: that understanding the gulf between an English translation and the (reconstruction of) the original languages leads to humility and a desire to learn, and gather insight from many strains, in order to "rightly divide the word of truth." Rather than a single, priestly authority (and, by the way, you really misunderstand modern Roman Catholic hermeneutics if you think they consider themselves to have one priestly authority), you have the academy what they can, and the churches making what they can of the text, all of us (ideally) humbled by the task of interpretation and exposition.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Hi, Will. Thanks for your comment. While it may be true that “understanding the gulf between an English translation and the original languages leads to humility and a desire to learn” in some cases, I have seen opposite instances when “understanding the original languages” led to arrogance, supporting a desire and the effort to lord it over God’s heritage. It is the reaction to some of those instances from which this post particularly arises, and has a background (which I won’t go into) of which Scot McKnight’s piece is only peripheral.