One of my favorite writers on Paul is Troels Engberg-Pederson. He is not one of my favorites because I agree with everything he says but because he consistently forces me to re-examine Paul from a different perspective. I am currently reading through his most recent book Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: the Material Spirit which is proving to no exception ability to “challenge” me.
While there are many things from this book that I hope to blog about from this book in this post I hope to discuss hermeneutics. Pederson does not get to far before making a statement that jarred me from my semi-reading-thinking-about-something-else slumber.
Before I give the quote a little bit of context. Pederson is attempting to explain and show the Stoic-like cosmology and understanding of the ‘pneuma’ of Paul is the only thing that makes complete sense of parts of 1Cor. 15:14-17. He states, “we should–initially, at least–attempt to take everything wholly literally, trumpet no less than the air. Later we shall discuss in some detail exactly ho this literal cosmology should be understood.”
Two factors make this quote stand out to me: 1) This is like dispensational hermeneutical stance which I tend to reject as dead wrong 2) My cosmology doesn’t know how to take this text literally.
What am I to do with this hermeneutical principle? Is he advocating this as a principle for all of Paul’s letters? How about the rest of the New Testament? The Bible? Pederson dos not explain this but his logic seems to be 1) Paul is answering a rebuttal against his view of resurrection 2) Paul’s view of resurrection apparently is physical or material 3) therefore Paul’s words make most sense if understood ‘literally,’ or better, concretely.
This fascinates me not only because it is in complete defiance of my previous veiw of Paul’s language here but also because it is coherent; maybe more so than my view.
Anyone have any thoughts on this ‘literal’ hermeneutic?