The Hermeneutics of Unity in and after Scripture 2023: Genesis 11:10-25:11
The “Hermeneutics of Unity in and after Scripture” section explores the hermeneutics of unity involved in the reception of earlier texts by later ones within the biblical corpus, as well as by other authors and communities in Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, and more contemporary periods. Across this literature, focused attention is given to the nature of the hermeneutic employed to foster and protect continued unity within each respective interpreting community. This year’s sessions treat the reception of Gen 11:10–25:11 exploring the hermeneutics of unity, whether that unity moves toward positive or negative ends.
Laura Estes, Pepperdine University, “Hagar and Her Children: Narrative, Allegory, and the Other in Christian Identity Construction”
Though relatively minor characters appearing twice in Genesis 16 and 21, Hagar and her child proved particularly flexible and enduring signifiers in later Christian projects of classification and definition. This paper surveys major streams of reception and interpretation of Hagar and Ishmael, particularly focusing on how the two were used to conceptualize a unified Christian identity that was defined against various others: from Jews to heretics to Muslims. These uses of Hagar suggest common patterns of othering within Christian thought that transcend particular exegetical methods.
Kilnam Cha, Abilene Christian University, “Genesis 16 and 21: Hagar and Ishmael”
The Old Testament alternates between particularism and universalism. At times, particularism appears intense, even to the point of being antagonistic. Though less frequent, universalism is manifestly present in the Old Testament, for the God of Israel is the God of the universe. The Hagar and Ishmael narratives in Genesis 16 and 21 belong to this universalist text. This paper focuses on these universalist narratives, tracing how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions have interpreted these texts. Then this paper explores the implications of these universalist narratives for contemporary society.
Zane McGee, Abilene Christian University, “How to Misread Scripture Properly: The Hermeneutical Principles Behind Paul’s Recasting of Abrahamic Lineage”
It is difficult to imagine a more effective way of driving a wedge between the earliest Jewish and Gentile Christ-followers than to radically reinterpret one of Judaism’s founding episodes. Yet, Paul chooses just this strategy in the name of unity (a tactic that has yielded disastrous results in ensuing generations). Setting aside the knotty logic of his reframing of the Abrahamic narrative, this paper gives attention to the principles that motivate the apostle’s reading. If his compulsion toward unity demands Paul embrace unorthodox (for him) exegetical methods, we must ask also how such motives might drive our own approach to Scripture today.
David Stark, Faulkner University, Convener
- Laura Locke Estes, Pepperdine University, “Hagar and Her Children: Narrative, Allegory, and the Other in Christian Identity Construction”
- Kilnam Cha, Abilene Christian University, “Genesis 16 and 21: Hagar and Ishmael”
- Zane McGee, Abilene Christian University, “How to Misread Scripture Properly: The Hermeneutical Principles Behind Paul’s Recasting of Abrahamic Lineage”
- Mark Sneed, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent