Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bullinger and the Exposition of Scripture

Kok noted that Bullinger wrote his commentaries “for the sake of the inexperienced and moderately educated (Scripserunt illi eruditis, ego rudibus et mediocribus).”

Leith has summarized from the Third Sermon of the First Decade (The title of this sermon is ‘Of the Sense and Right Exposition of the Word of God, and by What Manner of Means it may be Expounded’) Bullinger’s principles of expounding Scripture as:

(1) the rule of faith
(2) love of God and neighbor
(3) the historical situation
(4) scripture interpreted in the context of scripture
(5) a heart that loves God and continually prays to God for the Holy Spirit.

Significantly, Leith makes the observation, “From what has been said and from what follows this would seem to be a fair summary of Calvin’s own hermeneutical principles.”

What is highlighted by Bullinger in The Decades is that the person who seeks to study the Scriptures must come with a humble heart under the authority of the Scriptures through the help of the Holy Spirit (His omnibus addimus iam omnium efficacissimum verbum dei exponendi canonem: pectus dei et gloriae eius amans, non superbum, non ambitiosum, non hæresibus, non pravis corruptum affectibus, quod precibus indesinentibus vocet spiritum sanctum, per quem prodita et inspirata est scriptura, ut per eundem etiam explicetur ad gloriam dei et fidelium incolumitatem - in Peter Optiz, Heinrich Bullinger Werke – Dritte Abteilung: Theologische Schriften, Band 3: Sermonum Decades quinque de potissimis Christianae religionis capitibus (1552), Teilband 1, (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2008), p54).

(Joel E. Kok, “Heinrich Bullinger’s Exegetical Model: The Model for Calvin?” in Richard A. Muller and John L. Thompson (eds.), Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), pp241-254; John H. Leith, “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Proclamation of the Word and Its Significance for Today” in Timothy George (ed.), John Calvin and the Church: A Prism of Reform, (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), pp206-209, pp214,215)

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