Following the Living Voice of God

In my reading Trinity, Revelation, and Reading, I came across this gem by John Webster, Chair of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen:

Exegetical reasoning is, most simply, reading the Bible, the intelligent (and therefore spiritual) act of following the words of the text. Scripture is not an oracular utterance but an instrument through which the divine speech evokes the unselfish, loving, and obedient tracing of the text’s movement which is the work of exegesis. This is theologically primary; the principal task of theological reason is figuring out the literal sense, that is, what the text says. This would be an absurdly naive claim if the literal sense were thought of merely as information to be retrieved from the inert source in which it had been deposited. But the prophets and apostles are alive, their texts are their voices which herald the viva vox Dei [the living voice of God]. “Following” these texts is, as it were, a movement of intellectual repetition, a “cursive” representation of the text, running alongside it or, perhaps better, running in its wake. To be taken into this movement is the commentator’s delight, tempered by the knowledge that we cannot hope to keep pace, because the prophets and apostles always stride ahead of us. This is why following these texts involves the most strenuous application of the powers of the intellect, demanding the utmost concentration to resist habit and to ensure that the text’s moment is not arrested in our re-presentation.

Posted on June 13, 2012, in Hermeneutics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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