15. Is a grammatical-historical hermeneutic opposed to sensus plenior?
Although it is a common sentiment today to deny that a literal, grammatical-historical hermeneutic could allow for any sensus plenior in the text of scriptures, because it would violate the principle of each text having only one meaning, the simple fact is that this understanding is based more upon a naturalistic, or literalizing hermeneutic, than the grammatical-historical hermeneutic of the Church Fathers and Reformers. But more to the point, this denial of sensus plenior is in direct contradiction to the testimony of the scriptures themselves, as to how they should be read and understood. Throughout the Old Testament, the bible gives explicit indication that the historical events and persons recorded, although they must be read “literally” as actual events in time and space, very often signify something deeper, that has to do with God's eternal design; for instance, Jacob and Esau's struggling together in the womb, although a real historical
occurrence, is expressly said to indicate the future struggle of the nations of Israel and Edom (Gen. 25:22-23); and so also with many other things.
Furthermore, the New Testament teaches both by clear declaration and example that the whole Old Testament has a spiritual and Christ-centered meaning, to which all the recorded historical occurrences point (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 8:5; Luke 24:44-48; and also Gal. 4:21-31; 1 Pet. 3:20-22; Mat. 2:15; 12:39-40). Moreover, the prophecies which had to do with Israel, the tabernacle, and so on, had a deeper meaning, involving Christ and the Church, and were ultimately fulfilled according to this deeper meaning (cf. Acts 15:14-17; Heb. 8:8-13; 10:14-22; 2 Cor. 1:20); the Psalms, although they often had an immediate reference to David, still had an ultimate reference to Christ, the seed of David (cf. Mat. 13:35; John 13:18; Acts 2:25-32; Heb. 2:11-14); and so with every part of the Old Testament (e.g. Eph. 5:30-32).
Often, those who argue against any sensus plenior in scripture indicate that, to allow this deeper sense would be to open up the bible to fanciful allegorizing, according to the whims of the interpreter; but in fact, the principle of sensus plenior, or in other words, the typological understanding of every part of the Old Testament, is vastly different from fanciful allegorizing, for it is rooted in actual, concrete history, and tethered always to Christ and his redemptive work alone; these principles, which are borne out everywhere in New Testament expositions of Old Testament scriptures, will keep all interpretation from wandering astray from the truth.
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