Richard Hays Posts
May 2, 2012 by Jason Hood
Reflecting earlier this week on Lewis and Aslan and the Stone Table, I wound up tweeting, “It’s never dawned on me before today: Aslan’s stone *table* is a eucharistic thing (Low church = slow church I guess).” This garnered some discussion on my FB page. Some pointed out other ways in which the “table” should be interpreted, perhaps implying that more than one allusion wasn’t possible.
But “pictures are worth a thousand words,” not least because they can unveil more than one dimension. It’s often difficult for contemporary people to think or read in “layers,” and we must guard against “over-reading,” but Scripture (and Lewis) are probably best appreciated in this way.
This Sunday evening I’ll be preaching on Matt 28:16-20, which possesses not so much one OT allusion as a whole network of passages and concepts (Gen 1:26-28; 12:1ff; 49:8-10; Dan 7; etc.), in so doing providing a fitting conclusion to the OT story (1:1-17), of which the expanding reign of King Jesus is a great new stage.
I’d say that Lewis was probably also interested in multiple allusions. Clearly Lewis is interested in the destruction-fulfillment of Law in death, and the stone-as-Mosaic-law being broken. I think it’s possible that, in the midst of that allusion, he mentions table and in so doing doubles down on allusions. I find it hard to imagine that a high-church Anglican like Lewis would miss the chance to create a eucharistic association between table and sacrifice.
(Richard Hays has noted some “guidelines” for determining the likelihood of allusions, so as to limit the tendency to read allusions into a text which an author did not intend. In this instance, a google books search shows that Paul Ford and Bruce Edwards have also proposed the association; I am unaware of any “table of the law” theme in Lewis that would otherwise account for the use of the word “table”; he was “high church” Anglican; he is elsewhere interested in Eucharistic imagery; etc.)
August 2, 2011 by Jason Hood
Richard Hays on what Paul did with Scripture (or from another perspective, what Scripture did to Paul):
Paul’s explicit use of Isaiah is uncontestably “ecclesiocentric,” as is his use of Scripture more generally. His reading of Isaiah points primarily toward the formation of an eschatological people of God in which Gentiles are to be included. Indeed, he seems to find in Isaiah not only a warrant for his apostolic ministry to Gentiles but also a direct prediction of it, closely analogous to the way the Qumran covenanters read scriptural texts as prophecies of their own communal life and vocation.
Paul is not alone. Calvin “applies many of the Old Testament prophecies of the rule of the Messiah amongst the nations to the preacher of the Word.” (So Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of Word and Sacrament, 87.)
Of particular interest is the strong echo in Gal 1:15 of Isa 49:1, suggesting that Paul understood his own “call” as the fulfillment—or at least the typological counterpart—of the Servant’s vocation to be a “light to the nations,” and (perhaps thereby?) to bring Jacob (that is, Israel) back to the Lord; cf. Isa. 49:5-6.
Add to this Paul’s use of servant language for himself in Romans 15:21, citing the suffering servant passage (Isaiah 52:15) to describe his work among the nations, “what Christ has accomplished through me,” not least as Paul suffered as the Messiah suffered.
The story he reads in the Isaiah scroll is closely constrained by Isaiah’s original plotline of Israel’s exile and restoration, accompanied by God’s radical eschatological renewal that embraces the whole Gentile world.
The Conversion of the Imagination, 26, 40, 47
However, Paul only gets to an ecclesiocentric approach to his Bible by being in the first instance a Christocentric reader of the OT. But once you are doing that, it is a very small move to see yourself in the text as well. In fact, the shift from reading Christocentrically to reading ecclesiocentrically is not a lateral move, still less a topical shift. Paul is simply expanding from the interpretive “bulls-eye” to a larger, concentric circle based on the bulls-eye within it, because whatever is his may be called ours.3 Comments
April 6, 2011 by Jason Hood
What if 1 Corinthians isn’t really about Paul’s apostleship, but about the need for the body of Jesus to be one? Perhaps a false dichotomy in the end, especially since they are divided over Paul’s ministry. But I hear much more about Paul’s ministry than I do the unity of the church.
Consider this purpose statement, however: “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you might be in agreement and that there be no divisions (schismata) among you, but that you be ordered in the same mind and in the same opinion” (1:10). This statement should remind us of Phil 2, where Paul’s application of the incarnation and crucifixion of Jesus is unity of mind and looking to other’s interests. Richard Hays works out the implications:
Dissension in the church is deeply worrisome to Paul, for the aim of his apostolic labors has been to build community, not just to save souls. He has “laid the foundation” (3:11), and he is concerned that other contractors are botching the subsequent construction job.
The quality of construction matters urgently because the community is “God’s building”(3:10).
Indeed, Paul dares to assert more: the community is the place where God dwells. “Do you not know,” he asks, “that you [plural] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you [plural]?”(3:16).
To read this last sentence as though it spoke of the Spirit dwelling in the body of the individual Christian would be to miss the force of Paul’s audacious metaphor: the apostolically founded community takes the place of the Jerusalem temple as the place where the glory of God resides.
When the community suffers division, the temple of God is dishonored. But the presence of the Spirit in the community should produce unity rather than conflict.
Thus, the first four chapters of the letter focus on Paul’s appeal for unity, not, e.g., on Paul’s apostolic self-defense.