My Response To Matt Whitman's Response

Matt Whitman from the Ten Minute Bible Hour was kind enough to write a response to the post that I wrote about him.  All of the "Interesting Voices" that I've written about thus far have responded positively except for one, who hasn't responded at all <cough>Tim Mackie</cough>. Austin Fischer left a nice comment, but Matt is the only one who has taken the time to write a pretty substantial response and post it on his blog. And he did it in he midst of what seems to be a pretty busy schedule.  As someone who's blog is still pretty new and still trying to find my voice, I really value feedback like Matt's.  So thanks, amigo!

I think Matt and I share a lot of common ground, so I'm just going to respond to a couple of snippets. Be sure to read Matt's entire response over at The Ten Minute Bible Hour.  From his post:

At the end of his post Michael asked what I thought about mirror reading, and I guess I’d say it’s intuitive and I dig it especially where there’s reasonable evidence to support conclusions about the invisible side of the conversation. That said, there lots of great tools for unpacking a biblical text, and I think an over-dependence on mirror reading could lead to some hard-to-defend conclusions that are little more than fun speculation.

I think mirror-reading is intuitive for everyone but only to a certain extent.  I also agree that mirror-reading is just one tool in the Biblical interpretation toolbox.  I consider mirror-reading to be a subcategory of the historical-grammatical method (as I point out here). Also, I consider mirror-reading's "situational context" to be a subcategory of historical context.

As far as an over-dependence on mirror-reading is concerned, I feel that's like saying an over-dependence on Biblical interpretation could lead to bad theology. It's not the method but how well the method is executed.  There has certainly been many bad mirror-readings, but I see it as crappy mirror-reading instead of an over-dependence on it.

John Barclay's article has tempered my zealousness for mirror-reading somewhat, but his methodology is a move in the right direction. I think we can improve upon and expand such methodology to utilize mirror-reading for greater insights and greater detail but without the speculation.  Phase 1 of this blog has focused primarily on raising greater awareness of mirror-reading.  In Phase 2, I'll focus more on formal mirror-reading, developing techniques and methodologies that will hopefully generate mirror-readings that have greater detail and accuracy but can also be substantiated on every point. So, although I understand peoples desire to be cautious when it comes to mirror-reading, I'll be pushing them to not be afraid.

Again, from Matt's post:

But Michael’s critique demonstrates my concern with leaning to heavily on mirror reading. He’s right that the Bible wasn’t written to be just a good story, but it wasn’t all written exclusively as a reaction either. Each genre has its own motivations, and trying to force mirror reading to the front of the interpretive line with all of them won’t always work best.  

It's my position that we must at least attempt to mirror-read every book of the Bible.  Yes, the Pauline letters will yield greater mirror-reading results than perhaps other genres, but mirror-reading is still valuable when approaching all genres and books of the Bible. I've been able to mirror-read every book of the Bible that I've attempted so far. (although, honestly, I have my doubts about Proverbs, but I'll still try if I ever get around to it).

I believe that mirror-reading should be at the front of the line, at least initially.  I say that because the possibility is always there of not being able to understand the "what" without the "why".  If it launches one into speculation, then yes, discard immediately (although, I don't mind speculation as long as it's indicated as such).

Thanks again to Matt for engaging in the mirror-reading discussion with me!