Issues in Dating the Book of Revelation

ISSUES IN DATING REVELATION

There are a plethora of issues involved in the dating of the Apocalypse. Within current scholarship the amount of theories as to its dating are as plentiful as the attempts to discover its structure. Early scholars considered the dating of the writingto be early in Church history. Many scholars of the last century have argued for a late date to the Apocalypse using a method of doubt which was supported by circular argumentation. However, in recent years many scholars have come to the fore questioning the validity of this past and continued skepticism surrounding an early dating.

 Many scholars subscribe to a late date of the writing of the Apocalypse based upon a quote from Irenaeus in which he says that the book was ‘seen’ around the end of the reign of Domitian. However, recent scholars like Wilson have pointed out that Irenaeus also connected the disciple John as the author of both the Gospel and the Apocalypse. Modern scholars dismiss Irenaeus’ idea that John actually wrote the Apocalypse and Eusebius’ idea that there was widespread persecution during the time of Domitian (the emperor of the late date theory) but they choose not to question his (Irenaeus’) thoughts on the dating. Furthermore, the logic used to support the late dating of the Apocalypse are developed by using circular argumentation. Revelation has been connected with other works within the New Testament such as 1 Peter and Matthew but many modern scholars argue that because Matthew and/or 1 Peter were written at a later date, then so was the Apocalypse and vice versa. As Wilson attests, it seems at least plausible that one should consider the late date theory as suspect on these grounds.

Other problems that occur in the dating of the Apocalypse involve but are not limited to matters of symbolic language, meaning, and significance, linguistic structure, archeology, anthropology, and religion. For instance, the symbolic number 666 has been used by many scholars to indicate the time of the writing. The logic is that a date could be postulated by figuring out which emperor the author was referring to. The problem is that Roman emperors like Nero, Popes, and even presidents like Ronald Reagan have been pinned as representatives of the number! Linguistic structure has been used in connection with supposed contemporary writings of the Apocalypse (i.e. Shepherd of Hermas) in order to argue certain dates. Furthermore, archeology and anthropology have been used to argue both for a late and early date. All of these elements can make it hard to discern both the authorship and dating of the Apocalypse.

I agree with Wilson and others that the most logical conclusion is that the Apocalypse was written at an early date within Church history. I also believe that it was none other than the disciple John who wrote the magnificent work. The most important reason for me to believe this initially is because this was precisely the view of the majority of the Church up until the 20th Century. I think that Wilson and others have done a great job of pointing out the circular logic that has been used to postulate both a late date and pseudo-authorship. However, I would add that much of this questioning is wrong-headed in that there should be sufficient and critical evidence for one to doubt instead of simply ‘doubting for the sake of doubting’. It is illogical to uncritically accept Irenaeus’ dating while questioning his view of authorship.

I see sufficient evidence in the historical and biblical record which supports an early date. For instance, the eating of food sacrificed to idols and persecution which included martyrdom was most prevalent during the time of which an early date would be applicable. Nero was known for his murderous rampages against Christians, and the notion of widespread persecution leading to martyrdom under Domitian has been disproven. Furthermore, both proclamation of deity and the beginnings of emperor worship have recently been connected to Augustus Caesar (63 B.C. to A.D. 14). Augustus built temples and other monuments which depicted him and his family as divine rulers. In fact, he prided himself in being ‘the son of the deified one’ Julius Caesar. Indeed, all of the historical evidence seems to favor an early date rather than late. Nevertheless, in the end I would err on the side of caution in being too dogmatic regarding the date.

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Witnessing in Revelation

The role of witnessing is one of the key themes throughout the entire Apocalypse. For John, witnessing is directly connected to suffering and perseverance (Rev. 1:9; 6:9; 12:11; 17; 20:4). One reason for this is because the exodus motif plays a major part in the structure of Revelation.[1] Witnessing is also part of being a faithful disciple of Jesus because he is “the faithful witness” and “firstborn of the dead” who “made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father…” (1:5–6). Jesus is the example that Christians must follow; he overcame through the cross and his resurrection (1:5) and thus believers follow the same pattern (11:7–12; 12:11). Therefore, witnessing through persecution forms one of the paradigmatic elements of the Apocalypse.

To accomplish the task that the Church has been called to complete through their witness Jesus has provided the power of the Spirit (1:10–12; 11:3–6; cf. Acts 2). Waddell rightly points this aspect out in connection with Zechariah 4 within Revelation 11.[2] He quotes Bauckham with affirmation saying that “as they stand before the Lord of the earth, the witnesses (i.e. lampstands) shine with the light of the Spirit.”[3] He then goes on to say that this passage shares “a common echo from Zechariah 4:1–13, the images of the seven spirits and the two witnesses are linked together.[4] The point of the symbolism in Zechariah was that God was in charge of their mission, and he would make sure that they completed their task. In fact, God gave them the message that it was “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). Consequently, John uses the symbolism of Zechariah 4 to show the Church that God, through the power of his Holy Spirit, is protecting them and will destroy their enemies. Through this symbolism, John confirms the presence of the Spirit in their mission (see Acts 2). It is therefore clear in this passage that John has in view the Church of the eschaton; the eschatological Church is marked by the power of the Spirit working fully in her midst to empower her to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the world (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 2:16-21).

Waddell holds that the witnesses act of prophesying is to be equated with witnessing because of the synonymous nature of the two terms and the link between the “eyes of the Lord” (Rev. 5:6) and the Spirit with the witnesses in 11 and Zechariah 4.[5] This link he aptly points out as proof of the empowerment of the Spirit for witness. However, the strongest link which Waddell points out seems to be the connection between the pericope in Zechariah and the statement that the mission would be completed “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).[6] This link seems even stronger when connected with the empowerment in Acts 2, the exodus motif, and the fact that Jeremiah 5:14 states that the word of God, spoken by the prophet, consumes ungodly people like fire consumes wood (cf. Rev. 1:16; 2:12, 16; 9:17-19; 12:15-16; 16:13; 19:15, 21).[7]Therefore the task of the witnessing Church in Revelation is a dualistic role of prophetic witness empowered by the Spirit to bring an offer of salvation and a message of judgment. The Church represented in the Apocalypse is emphatically Pentecostal.


[1]. In Exodus, the children of Israel remain in the land while Moses, God’s witness, prophesies before Pharaoh. In turn, God punishes the Egyptians for not listening to his witness through plagues matching those in Revelation. Instead of heeding the word of God, Pharaoh and the Egyptians punish the Hebrews who they blame for God’s wrath. The Exodus finally takes place after God’s most severe judgment upon the Egyptians occurs.

 [2]. Waddell, The Spirit of the Book of Revelation, 177–178.  

 [3]. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 165.  

 [4]. Waddell, The Spirit, 177.   

 [5]. Ibid, 171; 177.

[6]. Ibid, 178.

[7]. Brighton, Theological Exposition, 296.

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Tribulation, Rapture, and Millenium in the Apocalypse

The first thing that I would want to say regarding tribulation, rapture, and the millennium is that the exodus motif plays a prominant role in understanding these concepts in the Apocalypse. In other words, it is vital for the reader/hearer to understand the concept of the Church’s witness, the world’s rejection of their witness, plagues being poured out by God upon the world, the world persecuting the Church, and God judging the world. One reason for this is because tribulation and wrath or judgment are two separate things in the Apocalypse. The term ‘rapture’ never appears in the Apocalypse but it may generally be referred to as the point at which the Church is brought out of this world (goes through exodus). The millennium is obviously more about Christ than the Church.

In Revelation both believers and the world go through tribulation or “the great tribulation” (1:9; 2:9-10, 22; 7:14). However, only the world ‘earth dwellers’ go through God’s wrath (2:22; 3:10; 6:8; 7:3; 9:46; 20:6, 14; 21:8). John clearly shows the disparity between both the notions of tribulation v. wrath and insider v. outsider in the Apocalypse. Death is a term that is both used and helps to define tribulation and judgment in Revelation. For instance, Revelation 9:4-6 speaks about those who are not sealed by God going through torment and begging for death “in those days.” Death is also mentioned as judgment or “second death” for outsiders (6:8; 20:6, 14; 21:8) but not insiders (20:6; 21:4). The term ‘test’ or ‘testing’ is another term mentioned with tribulation. Testing is referred to as something that Christians go through which leads to victory (2:10) and that the world or earth dwellers will go through as God’s punishment (3:10). As I alluded to before, earth dwellers is a designation that John uses to speak about those who oppose God and his people or align themselves with Satan (1:7; 3:10; 6:10, 15; 8:13; 11:10; 12:9; 13:3, 8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8; 19:2). For John, it is clear that one will be spared from God’s wrath but go through tribulation while the other will go through wrath and judgment.

There are many passages in the Apocalypse that some use to speak about a ‘rapture’ (3:10-11; 4:1-4; 5:9-10; 6:2; 7:9-17; 11:3-12; 15-19; 12:5; 14:14-16; 20:4). In 3:10-11, the passage speaks about the Church not going through “the hour of testing.” This is simply a reference to the fact that, like God’s people in Egypt, the Church will be protected from the plagues that God will pour out upon the earth. Other passages either include symbolic ways to speak of heavenly images received by John while in the Spirit (4:1-4; 6:2), martyrs (5:9-10; 7:9-17), Jesus’ ascension (12:5), or judgment upon the earth dwellers (14:14-16). The two passages that are really intriguing regarding a ‘rapture’ are Revelation 11:3-12 and 20:4. In both of these cases the conclusion indicates an exodus of the Church after tribulation. The scene in chapter 11 most likely serves as a proleptic anticipation of the events of chapter 20. In my opinion the term ‘rapture’ should be done away with if for no other reason than for the eschatological baggage that comes with it. Obviously the Church will ‘meet the Lord’ when he does return, but the most popular teaching concerning the rapture is just not founded upon scripture.

The millennium is mentioned six times in chapter 20. During the time of the millennium Satan will be bound for 1000 years so that he cannot deceive the nations while the faithful will reign with Christ. There are a few interpretations of this time which are intriguing. Literalists take this to be a literal 1000 year period in which believers will reign with Christ while Satan is bound. This belief is usually accompanied by exegetical gymnastics which try to populate the earth with people who can be deceived by Satan upon his release. Others believe that the martyrs who have died are reigning with Christ during this time. However, this is problematic due to the fact that the passage indicates a total view of the Church when saying “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Still, some hold that this is a spiritual reign that symbolizes the time of the Church when believers take part in the lordship of Christ which is in anticipation of the fullness that is coming. My opinion is that the 1000 years are clearly a symbolic period which is most likely speaking of the time of the Church in anticipation. I must say that I am unsure about this position but it seems to be the strongest of all the options. I am certainly open to hear what other options might be out there.

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In the Days of Caesar by Amos Yong

Again, I wanted to post this because I think that my readers can see in my questions some of the problems that I have with Amos Yong’s writing and theology. This is a class response posting to my reading of his book. Obviously, I had to be a bit generous due to the fact that he was the professor 😉

In his book In the Days of Caesar: Pentecostalism and Political Theology Yong presents his argument for a distinctly Pentecostal and ecumenically concerning political theology. Yong’s central motif is centered around his unique hermenutic concerning the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh which is taken from Lukan pneumatology. In his work he handles such issues as the phenomenology of a Pentecostal politic, an overview of political theology, a Pentecostal trajectory within political theology, political dimensions of Pentecostal deliverance from powers, a culturally concerned pentecostal holiness, Pentecostal power within civil society, a theology of economics and Pentecostal eschatology. Yong’s thesis is “that Pentecostalism invites not one but many forms of political, economic, and social postures and practices” (38).

Yong’s book is especially helpful to Renewal Studies and Pentecostalism in that he focuses our attention upon the need for a multicultural view of the Church. His hermenutic surrounding the Spirit being poured out on all flesh leads him to affirm the uniqueness of the Pentecostal message of unity through diversity. He also emphasizes the need for people of renewal to concern themselves with social involvement. Yong connects the people of God with the heavenlies by promoting the enthronement of God through Pentecostal praise and worship (157). In addition, he attacks dispensational eschatology which has been responsible for a demeaning of the Church and a lack of concern for the present.

Yong’s book should receive great attention and recognition from the wider world of academia. Much of what Yong promotes is in agreement with the trends of North American society and academy within our postmodern context. His concern for a more tolerant, politically concerned, ecologically friendly Christianity fits in well with the montra of modern academy.

Questions Emergent from the Text:

1. Is it exegetically correct to use Luke – Acts to say that the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh was on every single individual on earth rather than narrowly for the community of believers? Specifically, what was Luke talking about when he said “this is what” in the Acts passage? Does not the near demonstrative pronoun τοῦτό (touto) and the context of Peter saying “for these men are not drunk, as you suppose,” point to the fact that this is specifically the insiders/believers in the upper room who experience the pouring out?

2. Does being “prophetic” mean being more socially active (35)? Also, does the indication that these socially active groups “are more prophetic” because they “have some focus on non-members” indicate that conservatives do not (35)? Is social transformation the same thing biblically as liberation theology?

3. Is Yong’s question here not the real central concern of the debate: “Are liberation and black theologians correct in depending on social scientific analyses as part of the theological task, or are the ‘Radically Orthodox’ theologians right to insist on theology (or the biblical text – my emphasis) as an interpreter of rather than a dialogue partner with the social sciences” (83-84)?

4. Was America really founded on the principals of separation of church and state (84)?

5. Does Sola Scriptura really lead to cessationism, or does the Bible (scripture) not teach the practice of charismata (89)? Does the lack of cessation lead to an open canon, or is there not a unique foundational element to the scriptures which is unrepeatable? Furthermore, as Yong has aptly pointed out that the Spirit moves differently at different times and locations, then is it not plausible that the Spirit simply moved in a unique and different way with the writing of scripture which is not repeated but does not indicate a lack of spiritual or Spirit efficacy for today?

6. Is Christian community meant to be the model which draws others in by love and evangelism or is it meant to promote social activism (107)?

7. Is it healthy to use experiential elements of the pentecostal global south to promote theology while not dialoging with penetecostal theology proper (i.e. theological writings from the tradition)?

8. Is it responsible to compare Christians who support their military in a fight against terrorism to those who are guilty of supporting Montt’s wholesale slaughter of peoples (133)?

9. Exegetically, is it correct to say that Paul intended to speak about powers and principalities as something other than spiritual in the context of Paul’s statement that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against…”?

10. Are the premises of pentecostal apocalypticism in which the world will come to destruction by God’s wrath and be remade incorrect biblically (327-28)?

11. Is there still a uniqueness to Israel as a people or nation apart from the Church?

12. Is it not a modern expectation which sees the Church helping to bring about the kingdom on earth through making the earth better and better (347)? Are plants, animals and geographic spaces recipients of the Spirit being poured out?

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Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh by Amos Yong

I wanted to post this because I think that my readers can see in my questions some of the problems that I have with Amos Yong’s writing and theology. This is a class response posting to my reading of his book. Obviously, I had to be a bit generous due to the fact that he was the professor 😉

Amos Yong presents a great book which revolves around the question “what does it mean that God did so then (talking about Spirit Baptism) and continues to pour out the Spirit on men and women, young and old, slave and free (31)? In Yong’s work he tries to develop a way forward for a Pentecostal Theology through Lukan lenses. He expands upon his thoughts by starting with a phenomenological overview of world Pentecostalism and then moving on to subjects such as pneumatological Soteriology, pneumatological Ecclesiology, the ecumenical potential of Pentecostalism, the issues of Oneness and Trinity theology, a pneumatological theology of religions, and a pneumatological theology of creation. Throughout his work, Yong leans heavily on the hermeneutic of Pentecostal experience to help him define the parameters of a pneumatological world theology.

Yong’s work provides many elements that are supportive to the Renewal movement. One of the most encouraging points that he makes is in regard to egalitarianism. Yong shows how the worldwide Pentecostal movement has provided opportunities for socially low members, such as women and low caste Hindus, to have upward mobility. He also gives an adequate argument for at least including Pentecostal experience within the theological paradigm. In addition, Yong brings the often forgotten element of community to the fore in his theological treatise on Soteriology. Although his view of the importance of ecology seems rather extreme, Yong also helps shed some light on the fact that people of the renewal need to be good stewards of the world that God has made for us.

Judging by the content of Yong’s book, I would guess that this work would be widely accepted in the world of academia. First, I believe that social scientists will greatly appreciate his in depth understanding and use of their methods. Furthermore, people of other religions will like his work for his focus on including them and their tradition in the “process” of salvation. Finally, religious and many theological scholars will love some of the suggestions he makes regarding a more universal salvation, an emphasis on social action, and a salvation which includes ecology.

Questions Emergent From The Text:

1. Should Pentecostals be politically active, and if so to what extent (34)?

2. If Pentecostalism causes egalitarianism, then why do we have all black, hispanic, or white churches(39)? or do we?

3. Does the maturity of some Pentecostal Churches, organizations, or groups compared to the lack there of in others show a deficiency in discipleship? And could this be the problem with many 3rd world Pentecostal movements which were started by missionaries and evangelists (47-49)?

4. Does Yong advocate a new look at syncretism which might re-frame it in a mission-based multi-cultural context (49)? (see statement just before last paragraph on p. 49 and look at p. 62)

5. Is it biblical to excommunicate members of the body for environmental reasons (63)? (I guess I should start recycling 🙂

6. Can we call everything “led by the Spirit” which includes elements of Pneumatology (63)? And is this akin to calling Mormonism Christian?

7. Are the premises behind the first and final points on page 78 true?

8. If physical liberation here on earth “is always the consequence of the presence of the Spirit,” then was the Apostle Paul not Spirit empowered in that he told a slave to return to his master (79) & (93)? Did Jesus conquer the Romans and “liberate” all of the oppressed peoples under their rule? Did the disciples believe or teach this?

9. Does experience make for valid biblical theology (86)?   

10. Is there a difference between the fulfillment that Luke talks about in Acts and salvation (93)? If not, what do we do with passages which show “we have received John’s baptism” but not of the Spirit? How would a biblical demarcation affect Yong’s hermenutic?

11. Is social salvation found in the N.T. (93)?

12. Is “process” salvation scriptural? Is it not universalistic to include other religions who are in the “process” of salvation, or are saved in that they are in the “process” just like Christians?

13. Is Christianity truly not superior to paganism (237)? Do Christians in the N.T. learn from pagans or do they, through cultural understanding, reach out to them with the truth in love? (see Paul’s Mars Hill experience) Also, do the Samaritans equate to a different religion (241)?

14. Is not accepting religious other’s religion as beneficial or truthful the same as a lack of love for them (243-244)?

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Words of Life by Timothy Ward

In Word’s of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God Timothy Ward attempts to “articulate , explain and defend what we are really saying when we proclaim, as we must, that the Bible is God’s word” (11). Ward says that he has attempted to “offer a faithful reworking , in the light of scripture, of the orthodox doctrine of scripture…, while casting it in terms that may help to make that doctrine more obviously essential to healthy Christian thought and life in the present” (179).  His methodology is to first draft a biblical outline by connecting the words and actions of God together so that for God to speak either audibly or through written text is to say that he has acted (22). Second, Ward builds upon a theological outline while expounding upon the relationship of the Trinity to scripture. It is in this section that he illustrates the role which each member of the Trinity plays in scripture. Third, Ward offers a doctrinal outline of scripture which revolves around its necessity, sufficiency, clarity and authority. Finally, he elucidates the application of scripture upon the Christian life.

Ward provides a unique perspective on scripture by building upon what he alludes to as the “speech-acts” of God (36). The action of God through his words has been evident from the point of creation in which he spoke everything into existence (21), right up until the present day as he makes himself knowable to us through the scriptures as the words of his covenant (30). According to Ward, God is present in his words (28–30). God the Father uses words to build a covenant relationship with humanity. In turn, Jesus as the living word presented God to humanity in both word and deed (38). Furthermore, through God’s action by the Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus to write what he had spoken, he has identified himself directly with the words which they wrote (42). Ward’s unique “speech-act” premise allows for a vigorous defense of his high view of scripture. The Bible is divine not because every word was dictated by God, but because it is the action by which he has chosen to reveal himself and his ongoing covenant with his people, climaxed in Christ (56). In short, he “has so identified himself with his words that whatever someone does to God’s words they do directly to God himself” (27). Therefore, it is not the words themselves that are divine but God who chooses to act in them to make himself known through them.

In the Old Testament, God the Father chose to use words in order to create. He also chose to reveal his covenant and salvific plan through his words that were written by human authors (52–54). Of course, this included the promise of one who would come to redeem humanity from its fallen state. In the New Testament, Jesus came as the living word of God in both speech and action (38). Jesus literally came to the earth as the divine “speech-act” sent from the Father; he is simultaneously God in word and action (68). In addition, he indicated to his disciples that he spoke the words of God the Father. In turn, the disciples were charged through the power of the Holy Spirit to write down the words of God. Therefore, the words of scripture were written by human authors who were acted upon (theopneustos) by the Holy Spirit as an agent of the words of Christ which originated in the Father (80). Therefore, the origin of the content of scripture is God. The means by which we apply God’s word to our lives is through both individual and corporate meditation.

I found Ward’s book to be an exciting and thought provoking message to the Church and individual believers. He has made a very strong argument for the importance of the doctrine of holy scripture. I believe that his “speech-act” proposal provides a way forward while avoiding the criticism which has plagued high views of scripture in the past. I would personally like to see a Pentecostal scholar take this paradigm that he has laid out and expand it while being careful to acknowledge both the dynamic between the modern move of the Spirit in the Church and issues related to a high view of scripture in the Pentecostal academy. However, I must say that Ward’s book gave me inspiration and hope for academia in that he boldly upheld the holiness of scripture in the face of an onslaught of critics who would tear it apart. For such a small work, Ward gave an apt treatise on most of the major issues regarding the doctrine of scripture. He also rightly anticipated and answered criticism which has been leveled against this vital Christian doctrine. In addition, the flow and development of the book was masterful. I enjoyed the reading and study immensely.

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Philosopher Michael Polanyi

Michael Polanyi was largely a product of the environment which surrounded him throughout his life. He reflected upon the scientific method of the Enlightenment from a scientist’s point of view. He believed that humanity’s flawed understanding of knowledge played a major contributing factor to the destruction wrought upon the European continent through two world wars. Polanyi aptly asserted that knowledge could not be separated from faith and ethical responsibility. While modern science insisted that science, not tradition, could be trusted because it relied only upon quantifiable knowledge which could be measured and proven objectively, Polanyi pointed out that science itself relies upon tradition and faith in its paradigms. Furthermore, one cannot know anything concerning the intangibles like justice and love if one cannot believe in anything that cannot be tested and measured. This meant that the modern scientific method eroded the use of morals in decision making. Polanyi’s thesis was that all knowledge requires or has the root of tacit knowing. Tacit knowledge is essentially deep knowledge which one cannot place in to words.

Polanyi said that “tacit knowledge serves as the foundation for a harmonious view of thought and existence rooted in the universe” (Mars Hill). He used examples such as swimming and cycling in order to describe tacit knowledge. For instance, a child cannot understand or explain the rules governing his/her performance on a bike, but nevertheless is able to cycle/ride it and believes he/she can. Furthermore, the only way in which tacit knowledge is shared is through a master and apprentice relationship. The apprentice trusts the ways of his/her master. Likewise, the master passes on knowledge to the apprentice concerning a set of skills either explicitly or without knowledge that he/she is doing so. The master and the apprentice are thus able to create a masterpiece by using these intuitive skills that have been picked up through this relationship. Intuition/tacit knowledge is often highly developed knowledge that cannot be formulated or explained in detail. In the Mars Hill recording, the master Luthier called this knowledge “feel”. Polanyi thus argues that society must also follow tradition and faith in search for knowledge. True science must employ Augustinian logic in its attempt to know the truth. St. Augustine stated that one must “believe in order to know.”

Tacit knowing consists of subsidiary and focal knowledge. One must become subsidiarily aware of the details in order to understand the focal. For instance, a surgeon must become subsidiarily (peripherally) aware of the probe in his/her hand in order to remain focally (centrally) aware of the cavity in which he/she is working to have a successful surgery. Polanyi called “indwelling” the key to successful tacit knowing. It is not by looking at things that we are able to know. Only by indwelling can we know reality. We cannot know by being detached, as with modern scientific claims, but only by indwelling or meditation. Indwelling allows us to “tune in” to nature; it accepts a natural order. Polanyi said that to know something involves and creates responsibility. He would thus say that there should be no separation between what we know theoretically and what we do practically (i.e. Enlightenment). Although Polanyi spoke about personal knowledge, he did not advocate self truth as in Postmodernism. Polanyi held that there was a deep and universal truth that could be found and depended upon.

Polanyi’s work impacted me in the way that I thought about both biblical exegesis and holiness/discipleship. I could not help but to think of myself as the apprentice who is trying hard to learn from the Master. I know that I cannot create the masterpieces that he can. However, if I watch, study and emulate, I can become more like Him. I can perhaps learn a little more of the truth the closer I get to the Master; I am excited by thoughts like this. I thought about the impact of Polanyi’s thesis upon biblical exegesis. Critical study of the biblical text tries to claim objectivism. It would seem, however, that we are better exegetes by admitting and/or recognizing our own presuppositions when approaching scripture. This also means that it is ok to come to the text with your tradition in mind. Tradition is a way in which we come to know the truth. However, we must be willing to part ways with tradition and presuppositions when faced with truth which disagrees with them.

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