Friday, 7 November 2008

Hays on Paul and the OT 2

One of the questions we ended with in the last post was how we can tell if Paul was alluding to an OT passage. Recognising that absolute certainty is impossible, and that discerning echoes of the OT is 'less a matter of method than sensibility', Hays lists seven tests that may help identify echoes of the OT in Paul (the NT in general).

1. Availability. Was the proposed source or echo available to the author and/or original readers? The answer to this one will inevitability be yes - given that Paul and his readers shared a very high view of (what is now known as) the OT.

2. Volume. The volume of an echo is determined primarily by the degree of explicit repetition of words or syntactical patterns, but other factors may also be relevant: how distinctive or prominent is the precursor text within Scripture, and how much rhetorical stress does the echo receive in Paul's discourse?

3. Recurrence. How often does Paul elsewhere cite or allude to the same scriptural passage?

4. Thematic Coherence. How well does the alleged echo fit into the line of argument that Paul is developing?

5. Historical Plausibility. Could Paul have intended the alleged meaning effect? Could his readers have understood it?

6. History of Interpretation. Have other readers, both critical and pre-critical, heard the same echoes?

7. Satisfaction. With or without clear confirmation from the other criteria listed here, does the proposed reading make sense? Does it illuminate the surrounding discourse? Does it produce for the reader a satisfying account of the effect of the intertextual relation?

The second question I raised in the last post about how much exegetical weight we should give to the allusion or echo if we think it is there is more difficult. Perhaps - though not directly related - the next post will give some answers.

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