Posted by: chuckbumgardner | June 12, 2016

“Final Form”?

Bartholomew makes a good point about the terminology “final form” when used in reference to a given biblical text that we have available to us for interpretation:

The expression commonly used to refer to this object of interpretation is “final form.” I am hesitant about this nomenclature because it may imply that we have access to the earlier forms of these texts but that we choose to make the final form the object of our exegesis. In this case “final form” falsely implies that these same texts exist/ed in a number of different forms. In fact, this is never so. We have only the biblical texts that we have, and apart from firm text-critical evidence, any reconstructed earlier “forms” are generally speculative and too often based on poor readings of the “final form.” “Final form” also tends to carry with it the synchronic-diachronic tension between historical-critical and canonical readings of the Old Testament. A text may have a very complex prehistory, but in its literary form it is far more than the sum of its component parts, and it is the literary form that must be the focus of interpretation.

Craig G. Bartholomew, Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015), 380. Boldface added.

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