Friday, August 17, 2007

Bad exegesis

I often ask my students if they can think of examples of bad biblical exegesis* that they have heard and I sometimes get some good examples. Ben Witherington (professor at Asbury Theological Seminary) points us to a good one in his blog post about a pastor who asks his congregation to pray for his critics to die. See this article in the LA Times. Here is an excerpt:

Drake said Wednesday he was "simply doing what God told me to do" by targeting Americans United officials Joe Conn and Jeremy Leaming, whom he calls the "enemies of God."

"God says to pray imprecatory prayer against people who attack God's church," he said. "The Bible says that if anybody attacks God's people, David said this is what will happen to them. . . . Children will become orphans and wives will become widows."

Imprecatory prayers are alternately defined as praying for someone's misfortune, or an appeal to God for justice.

"Let his days be few; and let another take his office," the prayer reads. "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."
Make sure you read Witherington's response.

* "Exegesis" is determining what the original readers of a passage of scripture understood the passage to mean to them. "Hermeneutics" is applying that message to us today. Hermeneutics without good exegesis is problematic at best.

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