Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The historical situation of a Biblical text is often regarded as being of key importance in ascertaining meaning in the text: the context of geography, of time, of politics, and a whole host of others. One aspect that I've not seen is how early Christian liturgics helped to shape and develop the New Testament writings. Certainly, as Paul wrote the Romans (whom he was not, at that point, personally acquainted), he understood that they had already been participating in the rich symbolism, praxis, and routine of Christian worship and piety. While there was certainly local variation (as attested to by the very different liturgical traditions in, say, the Didache and the Apostolic Traditions), there would also be much commonality (as attested to by the very compatible liturgical traditions in, say, the Didache and the Apostolic Traditions). Should this factor in to how we understand the New Testament? (I think that it is near to impossible to understand the Old Testament without the Tabernacle/Temple complex forming the, at least, background matrix). Might Paul's reflections on, say, justification be influenced by his participation and celebration of the Eucharist?
Maybe all these lines of inquiry have been well-trod before me. Much of my own background seems to me to assume that the Apostles (or whoever) wrote things down, sort of as an intellectualist exercise, without regards to the rich liturgical tradition that was already in place before any of the New Testament documents were written. The Bible, though, is the Church's book, so the life of the Church holds at least some interpretive say in exegetical and theological matter.
Lex orandi, lex credendi