Full Text for CTM Brief Studies 31-7 (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY VOL. XXXI Arritudes Toward the Use of Force and Violence in Thomas Muentzerj Menno Simons, and Martin Luther RALPH L. MOELLERING Brief Studies Homiletics Theological Observer Book Review July 1960 No.7 BRIEF STUDIES THE MIRROR METAPHOR IN 1 COR. 13: 12 AND 2 COR. 3: 18 The mirror metaphor in 1 Cor. 13: 12 and 2 Cor. 3: 18 is the subject of intensive investigation in a definitive monograph by Norbert Hugede, La metaphore du mi1'oi1' dans les Epitres de Saint Paul aux Corin­thiens (Neuchatel and Paris: Delachaux et Niestle, 1957. 206 pages. Paper, Sw. Fr. 12.00.) Hugede is particularly concerned with the meaning of 1 Cor. 13: 12 and approaches the problem through a study of the word )W't'OJt't'QL~Ol in 2 Cor. 3: 18. He concludes that the apostle expresses, in the latter passage, an act of contemplation rather than self-reflection. This methodological pro­cedure paves the way for an extensive inquiry into the sources from which Paul derived his metaphor (pp. 37-95) and enables the author to root his conclusions strongly in an historical context. Gerhard Kittel (Theologisches Warter­buch zum neuen Testament, I, 177-179, s. v. OlLVL'yI-tU), following Harnack, finds the apostle's source in the Hebrew text of Num. 12:8 and attempts to show that Paul inter­preted the unvocalized i1~"1.:) as i1~il.:) (mirror), instead of ii~i~ (appearan~e) ~ which the LXX read and 'rendered EV £tact. This explanation does indeed appear to ac­count for one of the apostle's sources, says Hugede, but the difficulty is that N urn. 12: 8 contrasts the superior vision Moses enjoys with the partial vision of the prophets, whereas 1 Cor. 13: 12 posits the relative inadequacy of visions via mirrors. Some solution must be found which will account for the apparent allusion to Num. 12: 8 as weil as the altered form in which the Old Testament passage is employed. Reitzenstein made the attempt by proposing the hypoth­esis of an additional source, namely, one coming out of Paul's Hellenistic environ­ment, where self-contemplation in mirrors was thought to lead to the acquisition of the divine spirit. The texts alleged to support this view fail, however, to endure Hugede's searching scrutiny. The theory of Achelis that the text in 1 Cor. 13: 12 suggests asso­ciations with catoptromancy, or divination with mirrors, usually effected with the help of children, is likewise rejected on two counts. First, the apostle specifically dis­claims a child's knowledge, and second, the thought is otherwise wholly foreign to the apostle. The rejection of these other theories leads Hugede to examine the role played by mir­rors in Greek and Hellenistic literature. He is impressed, first of all, by the pride of antiquity in its mirrors. It is a hazardous modernization of the text to assert, without support from the context, that St. Paul feels that the mirrors of his time reflect a fuzzy image. This thought (expressed in a good many Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and translations) never occurred to the ancients. They thought their mirrors reflected a very good image indeed (pp.97-100). Sec­ondly, Hellenistic literature makes frequent reference to the use of the mirror for moral self-reflection (pp.l01-114). Finally, the mirror is found useful in the reflection of objects other than one's own person (pp.115 to 13 6). Thus it is a popular Stoic thought that God is observable through His works. It is precisely here, in the imagery of the Stoic diatribe, concludes Hugede, that we are to find the additional source for Paul's use of the mirror metaphor. However, the imagery is purely formal. Paul's thought remains Jewish. Man does not, as in Greek thought, contemplate God's image in order to rise to perfection. The perfect aeon comes 428 BRIEF STUDIES 429 only in the eschaton. It is this eschatological accent which mark's Paul's expression as peculiarly Jewish despite its Hellenistic dress. The contrast Paul makes, then, is between the object itself and the sight of a reflection of it. A qualitative judgment on the reflect­ing agent or device is not to be inferred. This conclusion is reinforced by a detailed study of the word Cl.L'VlYJ.LCI. in 1 Cor. 13: 12 (pp.139-150). Its etymological history points to the basic meaning "illustration, ex­ample, symbol." Thus Sextus Empiricus char­acterizes a fable of Aesop's as an ALcrroJtELO'V Cl.L'VLY!lCl., and Athenaeus (452 a) tells how one Hippodamus communicated with a her­ald from within a beleagured city, b1'jAOO'V E'V Cl.L'VLYJ.L<\J, i. e., making clear his state of affairs by appropriate signs. The inadequacy of the vision in 1 Cor. 13: 12, then, is not due to any haziness in the reflecting medium. The imperfection consists rather in this, that we now see the eternal splendors indirectly. But what we do sec now through the eye of faith we see quite clearly, for the thought of unclear spiritual vision is foreign to the apostle's thought, observes Hugede. The apostle knows in whom he has believed! Hugede might have made an even stronger case by following up a clue he himself un­covered in his citation of 2 Cor. 5: 6, 7 (p. 162) but failed to exploit. We walk by faith, not by what we see. Here elbo<; refers to outward form. It is the word used in the LXX for i1~'~ (Num.12:8). Moses hears God speak ~v dbEL, not E'V Cl.tvLY!lCl.'tL. The opposite of walking by faith is having an elbo~, or a sight of the real object. The opposite of having a firsthand look is to see a reflection of it, i. e., to observe it E'V UL'VLY!lCl.'tL, indirectly. This sketch cannot begin to do justice to this masterpiece of painstaking philological study. In addition to the bibliographical notes on a score of subjects (we missed, however, Hans Windisch's commentary on 2 Corinthians in the Meyer series [9th ed., GCittingen, 1924J, which cites some of the extracanonical passages on which Hugede builds much of his case), including much of the intertestamental literature as it relates to the New Testament, the student will ap­preciate the four plates included in the vol­ume illustrating the use to which mirrors were put in antiquity. Indexes to the passages cited, both profane and sacred, and a list of Greek terms ter­minate a work in which the author comes as close to an "assured result" as is possible in this type of research. FREDERICK W. DANKER THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE This is the title of one of the most sig­nificant books to be written lately on the subject of the Word;;, not because of the author's originality -for he makes no pre­tense of offering anything brand-new on the :,ast subject -but because he gives a brief, clear synthesis of what has been and is being taught on this matter by many prominent theologians. The author's own views are ap­parent throughout the book, but are summed up in the last chapter. He is sympathetic toward Barth and Brunner, but draws also from the ideas of Richardson, Hebert, H. H. Rowley, Visscher, and others. In the first chapter Reid presents the problem. Biblical authority seems to be threatened by higher criticism and the theory of evolution, and if the difficulties of the problem have been lessened of late, they have by no means been resolved. Modern Christians are still perplexed concerning the nature and extent of Biblical authority. Reid explains why modern criticism, in pointing to errors and discrepancies in Scripture, tends to overthrow Scripture's authority alto­gether by suggesting that in post-Reformation times a "certain literal rigidity" toward Scrip-* The Authority of Scripture. By J. K. S. Reid. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957. 286 pages. Cloth. $4.50. 430 BRIEF STUDIES ture developed which was absent at an earlier period. This he says in contrast to Cadoux and Gore (and we could list many more), who maintained that the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture was generally held until the time of modern higher criticism. Such a supposition seems to fetter Reid somewhat in the chapters in which he dis­cusses the doctrine of inspiration as taught by Calvin, Luther, and later orthodoxy. He contends that Calvin, even with his "scribe," "secretary," "mouth of God," terminology, still recognized the willing and conscious activity of the human authors in writing Scripture and hence Calvin must be excul­pated from the charge of "verbal literalism." "Literalism" unfortunately does not desig­nate anything definite and therefore becomes a loaded term suggesting to some a method of interpretation incapable of discerning basic linguistic figures, such as metaphor, synecdoche, hyperbole, etc. This "verbal lit­eralism" the author equates with verbal in­spiration. By verbal inspiration he seems to mean sometimes a doctrine approximating the teaching of Rohnert, Walther, Pieper, and Hoenecke, sometimes a mechanical car­icature of that doctrine. At any rate, he suggests that a doctrine of Scriptural in­fallibility involves one in a hopeless obscur­antism and is tantamount to an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. Reid drives a wedge between the doctrine of Luther and Calvin on Scripture and that of Lutheran and Re­formed orthodoxy. Luther and Calvin, he avers, although they held that Scripture was God's Word, still recognized errors in Scrip­ture and dealt with the difficulty frankly; later orthodoxy simply refused to admit the possibility of error. Moreover, orthodoxy, unlike Luther, did not see the Christocen­tricity in Scripture and thought of it merely as a textbook on doctrine. The latter dis­tinction is untrue, the former oversimplified. The fact is that Luther did believe in the in­errancy of Scripture, as has been conclusively shown by Dr. Reu in his Luther and the Scriptures. Any other assessment of Luther's position makes the man and his doctrine an almost incredible anachronism. If verbal inerrancy and a sound, natural interpretation of Scripture seem incompatible to Reid, they did not seem so to Luther or to a Gerhard or a Calov, as may be abundantly shown from their exegetical works. Reid has made the mistake of following Brunner too closely in his judgments. Brun­ner is one of the most outspoken opponents of orthodoxy today (also the orthodoxy which marks our church body), an opponent who has apparently never made a serious attempt to understand either the theology or the spirit of orthodoxy. For instance, Reid tells us that the idea of revelation as an action in which God communicates Himself is for­eign to the theology of orthodo::.."}' and imme­diately cites Brunner, who speaks of the "fatal equation of revelation with the in­spiration of Scriptures." But who ever made this "fatal equation"? A refutation to such a charge is found in Calov's very definition of revelation as "an external act of God whereby He discloses Himself {sese patefecit} to humans through His Word and makes known His salvation" (Systema, I, 170). Calov, Gerhard, and the other orthodox Lu­therans insist that God is always the subject of revelation, not doctrine. Reid's view of Scripture seems close to that of neo-orthodoxy. To him revelation is an event and does not consist of proposi­tions. Whether God speaking through a prophet or through Scripture is considered as an event and thus revelation or merely as propositions is not made quite clear. It seems that at times this would be revelation, at times mere proposition, inasmuch as the author holds to Barth's dialectics that the Bihle becomes tbe Word of God in an event. At any rate, the written and preached Word sometimes conveys God, sometimes not; it depends upon God's permission. BRIEF STUDIES 431 Scripture is not identified as the Word of God or even as one form or species of the Word of God. What, then, is the Word of God? Apparently it is God speaking, or God communicating Himself. But this is a tautology, and in answering the question we must still content ourselves with some sort of mysticism or subjectivism, or we must return to the old doctrine, viz., that the Word of God wpich communicates God is actually drawn from the written Word of the prophets and apostles. The last chapter of the book deals specif­ically with the nature and extent of Scrip­ture's authority. Here the author correctly emphasizes that the subject matter of Scrip­ture is Christ and that there is a Christolog­ical unity of Old and New Testaments. He then says, "The authority of the Bible re­poses in the fact that, in statements some right and some wrong, and in pracrical ap­plication some of which is disputable and some even more dubious, a unified witness is borne to Him who is at the center of the Gospel." Here he is not speaking of any sort of canonical authority but only of a causative authority which resides also In a preached Word. Thus the only advantage which Scripture has is that it is the first witness of God's revelation and is to that degree authentic. However, no infallible au­thority can be attached to Scripture as such. It is clear what this will do to the principle of sola Scriptura. Prof. George Stoeckhardt once wrote a series of articles entitled "Was sagt die Schrift von sich selbst?" This is the question which our author avoids in his book. But are we allowed to pass over this question? We who would be disciples of Christ and who desire to follow Him also in His attitude toward Scripture must face this question seriously and accept the answer we /indo For the question of Scripture's author­ity begins and ends here. ROBERT PREUS