A Great Article on Gideon and All of Judges
I just read "Will The Real Gideon Please Stand Up? Narrative Style And Intention In Judges 6-9" by Daniel I. Block, then of Southern Seminary.
It’s a model of what scholarship is supposed to do for the church:
- He lays out the major ways people have interpreted the Scripture text.
- He dismisses the silliness of theological liberals with a witty but pointed paragraph that nonetheless is not disrespectful or mocking toward any particular individual.
Ascribing problematic details to different hands affords interpreters the luxury of eliminating difficulties and absolves them of responsibility to deal with difficulties in context. But the wide disparities in the results of their analyses do not inspire confidence either in their methodology or their conclusions. Plagued by subjective, idiosyncratic and anachronistic standards of stylistic and logical consistency, an excessive commitment to these methodologies incurs the guilt of the most egregious cultural imperialism: We condemn the final redactors as stylistic bunglers and destroy what the community of faith accepted as a coherent and canonical literary product.
- He lays out the common, traditional conservative reading clearly.
- He lays out a new conservative reading that includes a “holistic literary response” to the prior reading. In this major section he mines the details of the text and puts them in a clear outline, asking perceptive questions derived from sound hermeneutical methodology and giving helpful answers to those questions.
In the end, I come away understanding the Bible better. I feel confident that he has taken inspired details into account, and I’m prepared to handle objections from alternative viewpoints.
That’s why I call the article a model.* He served the church and served me with his learning. And he served us in the best way, by helping us understand what God has said. Now I want to do the same for the eighth graders who will, someday soon, read my lesson on Gideon.
*My only cavil is that he didn’t account sufficiently for Hebrews 11’s inclusion of Gideon. He almost seems to dismiss it—twice, leaving only a little hint that Hebrews got part of the story right by praising Gideon. But in his top-rated commentary on Judges he shows clearly that he does not intend to dismiss Hebrews’ so-called Hall of Faith. There he offers a more nuanced discussion that simply wasn’t part of his scope in this article (pp. 69–70).