In the previous article we looked at supposed pre-scientific statements which in fact turned out to be Old World Science. I offered an approach, based upon Speech-Act Theory, that frees us from the necessity of finding modern science in an ancient book. I have called the supposed existence of pre-scientific statements a kind of sensus plenior. But what of sensus plenior as it is commonly used? I now take on this hardest of the the three tasks I’ve set for myself in this series. It is hardest because it is unique to myself. By that I mean that I have never read another who explains it in the way that I will. I am indebted to certain authors, as you will see, but they put their information to different use than I will here. Further, though I have never read another who explains it in exactly the way that I will, I do not deny that such writers exist. I have simply not yet found them (though I would be much comforted if I did).
My ultimate goal in this series is to say something about hermeneutics. This discussion, however, cannot avoid overlapping with concerns about inspiration. As a result, I feel it necessary to say a few things about it before I move on to hermeneutics.
It is immensely important that we rid ourselves of certain deistic tendencies in our thinking. Though I have not met a Christian who puts it exactly this way I have met many whose comments assume the following system: If it can be explained without reference to God, God did not do it. That is, if Man did it then God did not. Conversely, if God did it then Man did not. This way of thinking keeps creature and Creator completely separate which is, I believe, a mistake. Though I will not make the opposite mistake of conflating creature and Creator and falling into a sort of Pantheism, I do affirm that God often works from within creation. For example, when Paul and his company were in Macedonia they became terribly troubled. They suffered “disputes without and fears within” (2 Cor. 7:5). Of this trouble Paul writes, “God … consoled us” (7:6). If that were all that we read we might assume that God had miraculously offered them a sense of mystical comfort. We might imagine an unexplainable warmth growing inside of Paul and his companions. Perhaps we picture Paul and his company standing up straighter instilled with an indescribable confidence. If this is how we imagine it then it is possible we are working out of the deism I mentioned, the sort which assumes that if God did it then Man did not. If we continue reading, however, we find the means by which God offered comfort. The Bible says, “But God, who consoles the downcast, consoled us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more” (7:6, 7). God worked from within his creation. The very fact that Titus comforted Paul did not diminish in the slightest the fact that God had comforted Paul. There is no reason to suppose that such human action is any less divine, especially when we have the witness of scripture that describes it so.
Another example to illustrate the point: when Hezekiah was sick Isaiah came to him by the word of the LORD and said, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover” (Isa. 38:1). Hezekiah then begged God to extend his life and he received a promise that the LORD would do so for fifteen more years (38:5). Now, if this were all the information that we were given we are likely to picture Hezekiah as being miraculously healed entirely apart from material means. The truth, however, is that Isaiah instructed Hezekiah’s servants to “take a lump of figs, and apply it to the boil, so that he may recover” (38:21). The fact that a poultice was applied does not diminish Hezekiah’s divine healing. It is only the deistic conception which insists on separating God’s work from his creation. The biblical conception of God’s work is able to hold them together quite comfortably. This should be no less true for our conception of inspiration.
The word “inspiration” means quite different things to different people. Some emphasize the divine side of inspiration to the detriment of the human side. Maybe they imagine inspiration like Rembrandt’s portrait of St. Matthew, with an angel whispering the words of the Bible into his ear.1 Others emphasize the human side to the detriment of the divine.2 And despite involving us in inextricable mysteries, I believe that our concept of inspiration should have just the same combination of the divine and the human as the above examples, not because I think it “makes sense” (though it does), but because it is how the Bible pictures it.
First, consider the introduction to Luke’s gospel. “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed” (1:1-4). I know no other way to understand this than to think that Luke used sources in the composition of his gospel. This would seem quite unnecessary if the Holy Spirit was whispering in his ear. How then do we explain it? I will not pretend to understand it all, but I affirm by faith that somehow Luke’s own thoughts and mental effort were involved in writing his gospel. He had to gather sources, sift through the accounts, and conceive a unity to the story before he put it on parchment. This affirmation of the human side of the process does not deny the divine side. Somehow God was involved in the very human action of Luke, directing it and monitoring it, to ensure that no errors were made. We cannot, however, allow that truth to overshadow the human struggle and mental exertion necessary to Luke’s work.
Second, other places indicate that the writing of scripture was in some sense dependent upon the mental efforts of its human writers. When Luke records Festus’ visit to Jerusalem and his subsequent return to Caesarea he writes, “After he had stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea” (Acts 25:6). If the Holy Spirit were whispering in his ear it seems an odd thing for the Holy Spirit to say. It seems more like Luke is dependent upon sources which informed him of a stay of eight days, or perhaps ten. Or maybe even the source had given him the exact time but Luke had trouble recalling it. Whatever the explanation, this is a very human thing to write. I weary myself with saying this, but I feel it necessary to repeat that affirming the humanness of inspiration does not deny the divine at work, any more than affirming Paul’s comfort by Titus denies Paul’s comfort by God.
I offer one final example. Third, when Paul writes to the Corinthians he laments that certain Corinthians were dividing themselves over who their favorite leader was, perhaps even who baptized them. Paul responds by saying, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else)” (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Again, this seems a strange thing for Paul to write unless he is somehow dependent upon his own mental effort.
To sum up, we do not deny that it is possible for God to grant men information that they could not have known on their own. Certainly God could have reminded Paul exactly which people he had baptized; he could have told Luke exactly how many days Festus stayed in Jerusalem; and he could have removed the need for any of Luke’s sources. But he didn’t. I do not question what God is able to do, only what God has, in fact, done. And it appears as if God quite often allows the words of the Bible to well up from the existing knowledge of the Bible writers. I have no doubt that he superintended over the process so as to protect his word, but we cannot allow our affirmation of divinity to diminish its humanity. Like Christ was able to become fully human without ceasing to be fully divine, so the word of God is able to comfortably combine both without confusion or mixture. Just as we affirm that Jesus is “truly God and truly man”3, so we affirm that the Bible is truly human and truly divine.
Now we are able to move into a discussion about sensus plenior. Often these “hidden” or “fuller meanings” are preceded by a fulfillment formula, i.e. “This was done so that it might be fulfilled …” Whenever we read these statements we might immediately assume that the Bible writer is referring to a prophecy of the Old Testament. Prophecy, we think, is the counterpart to “fulfillment.” And there are certainly instances which have to do with prophecy (cf. Isa. 7:14; Mat. 1:22-23). But one of the first things we will notice when we start looking at the sensus plenior in the New Testament is that very few of them are “fulfillments” of prophecy. Hosea 11:1, fulfilled in Jesus descent/ascent from Egypt (Mat. 2:15), cannot be a prophecy as we commonly conceive it because it does not look forward at all. It looks backward to an event, to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. The command not to break the bones of the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:46), fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion (Jn. 19:36), is also an event, not a promise or prophecy.4 Further, Rachel weeping for her children, which is fulfilled in the murder of the innocents by Herod (Mat. 2:17, 18), is not a prophecy. It is an imaginative description of an event. It is a story which gives pathos, depth, and meaning to the tragedy of the Israelite exile by Assyria and Babylon (Jer. 31:15). This being the case, it seems we have to broaden our idea of “fulfillment.” It seems that fulfillment is not only the counterpart of prophecy but it can also be the counterpart of events and imaginative descriptions of events. Previous events can be pictured, or repictured, or–better still–reenacted and thus named “fulfillment.” The important thing to note here is that recognizing an analog between the events is not dependent upon receiving special knowledge from beyond. One is able upon reflection to recognize recurrent patterns and themes in events and stories. It does not require that one be “clued in” on some fuller meaning by the Holy Spirit. It requires astute hermeneutic skill or, more importantly, a disciplined imagination.
J.R.R. Tolkien is supposed to have said, “We tell stories because God is a story teller … We tell our stories with words; he tells his story with history.”5 G.K. Chesterton before him wrote, “I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.”6 This idea of history as the story God is telling is the reason that C.S. Lewis is able to speak of a “grammar of the universe.”7 God is a story teller and insofar as Christ is the Logos, the “Message” of God, he is what God has been trying to say.
The miracles of Jesus make this clear. Lewis writes,
“There is an activity of God displayed throughout creation, a wholesale activity let us say which men refuse to recognize. The miracles done by God incarnate, living as a man in Palestine, perform the very same things as this wholesale activity, but at a different speed and on a smaller scale. One of their chief purposes is that men, having seen a thing done by personal power on the small scale, may recognize, when they see the same thing done on the large scale, that the power behind it is also personal–is indeed the very same person who lived among us two thousand years ago. The miracles in fact are a retelling in small letters of the very story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”8
As a specific example he chooses Christ at Cana to show him doing small what God often does large.
“God creates the vine and teaches it to draw up water by its roots and, with the aid of the sun, to turn that water into a juice which will ferment and take on certain qualities. Thus every year, from Noah’s time till ours, God turns water into wine. That, men fail to see. Either like Pagans they refer the process to some finite spirit, Bacchus or Dionysus: or else, like moderns, they attribute the real and ultimate causality to the chemical and other material phenomena which are all that our senses can discover in it. But when Christ at Cana makes water into wine, the mask is off. The miracle has only half its effect if it only convinces us that Christ is God: it will have its full effect if whenever we see a vineyard or drink a glass of wine we remember that here works He who sat at the wedding party in Cana.”9
Jesus reenacts the Story that God has been telling from the beginning of time. The drama of Cana is a miniature of the Drama of Nature.
Notice also that Lewis mentions Man’s habit of telling stories about nature. Wherever men have drunk wine they have told stories of Bacchus. If we see God as a story teller, and Man as “making by the law in which we’re made”, it makes wonderful sense not only of the act of story-telling, but also of the sorts of stories that we tell.
The stories we tell are based upon what we see in nature and history, which are the things God uses to tell his story. In this way our smaller local stories are reflections of God’s much larger and universal one. Therefore, it should not surprise us in the least to find similarities between the two. Our stories tell of the weak being saved by the strong, of the lower being dependent upon the descent and ascent of the higher, of the dying and rising gods like Balder and the Corn-Kings. “The similarity is not in the least unreal or accidental. For the Corn-King is derived (through human imagination) from the facts of Nature, and the facts of Nature from her Creator; the Death and Rebirth pattern is in her because it was first in Him.”10 So we find in Christ the reality of which all our myths were just shadows.
“It is He who sends rain into the furrows till the valleys stand so thick with corn that they laugh and sing. The trees of the wood rejoice before Him and His voice causes the wild deer to bring forth their young. He is the God of wheat and wine and oil. In that respect He is constantly doing all the things that Nature-Gods do: He is Bacchus, Venus, Ceres all rolled into one.”11
We could say, as Lewis does, that Jesus is Myth-Become-Fact.
“The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens–at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle.”12
Now comes the important bridge. Remember, we pointed out earlier that “fulfillment” may be applied to events and descriptions of events (stories) as well as prophecy. It is appropriate, then, to speak of Christ as the “fulfillment” of nature as well as our stories about nature, our myths. Chesterton, making the same point as above, writes, “[T]he life of Jesus … was a fulfillment of the myths.”13 In regard to the incarnation he writes, “[T]he event had fulfilled not merely the mysticism but the materialism of mythology. Mythology had many sins; but it had not been wrong in being as carnal as the Incarnation.”14 Note the language of “fulfillment” in Chesterton. Tolkien uses the same language. “The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories … But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfilment [sic] of Creation.”15
The Christ event is in terse miniscule the very message which Nature has been telling in her long prolix uncial. Therefore, if we did not spread his message abroad “even these stones would cry out” (cf. Luke 19:40). And they do. With every season and every sunrise Nature’s voice goes through all the earth, and her words to the end of the world (cf. Ps. 19:4).
If this is true about the Story of the World, and our stories about the world (which are often full of error), should we not expect it to be just as true about the Story of Israel? Strikingly so. For the Story of Israel is the Story of the World. Only eleven chapters intervene between the story of creation and the story of Abraham. This should indicate to us all that the fate of creation rests upon our distant father and his descendants. The history of Israel is the hinge upon which the whole world turns.
The True Story of the World
Man has written many myths, but only one did he write with the aid of the original Myth-Maker. More than that, Man not only recorded the Story but he found himself to be a central character. This is truer of no people than it is of the people of Israel.
Ever since the Fall men have felt themselves as part of a story that was going somewhere. Laboring under the curse, the birth of Noah brought hope to his parents. They said of him, “This one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands” (Gen. 5:29). All of creation groans and waits for its redemption (cf. Rom. 8:18-25). Abraham is the one chosen to bring about that redemption. God says to him, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). It is this long Story which Christ is seen to fulfill. Not an odd bit here or there, as if Jesus woke each morning with a list of prophecies and said, “Well, I’d better check that one off the list today.” All of scripture finds its fulfillment in him. The mysterious Story of Israel, and with her the whole Story of the world, finds its “Yes” in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 1:19-20).
This is the sense in which so many of the “fulfillments” are indeed fulfilled. It is not that the Israelites descent/ascent from Egypt was a prophecy, at least not in the sense we usually imagine. Neither the Passover nor the Exile of the Israelites. Rather, there is a particular “style” to the way God tells his story, a “grammar of the universe.” “All His acts are different, but they all rhyme or echo to one another.”16 Just as one fluent in Latin will note the Latin-icity of other languages17, so one who is steeped in the Story of God will notice the imprint of the divine upon his several works. So it is not that Isaiah prophesied of the Christ at the same time he prophesied of Mahershalalhashbaz. Rather, it is that Matthew, living and breathing the Story of Israel, is able to look back through the lens of the Christ event and see in Isaiah’s prophecy the shadow of which Christ is the substance. It is in this sense, the same sense in which Christ is the fulfillment of nature and of myth, that Christ is the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 and all the Story of Israel. The Exodus, the giving of the Law, the wilderness wandering, the temple along with its priests and sacrifices, the king, and the exile are all fulfilled in Jesus.
Because there are no prophecies, indeed no history, without the word of God there can be none without Christ who is the Word of God. All are contained in him, and he in them. He is the Eternal Word. He is what God has been saying, and there was never a time when he was not saying it. All of Man’s triumphs as well as his sorrows find their “Yes” in him. The history of Israel, indeed the whole history of Man which rode on her back, is summed up in the Son of Man. This is why the psalmist may say “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and we are not surprised to find those words on the lips of our Lord. Not because they are “prophecy”, but because they are a part of Man and Christ is all that we are. Or, rather, he bears all that we are on the back of what were supposed to be, and carries that to the cross. Everything is bound up in him. “In him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers–all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16, 17).
Building Again What I Have Torn Down
Weeks ago when I set out to write this series I had in mind to tear down sensus plenior. Even as I began writing this article I still intended to undo the idea. In the midst of writing, however, I find that I have built again what I have torn down. I have established sensus plenior rather than debunking it. But I have not established it in the way that I often hear it used. That use, which I consider a misuse, is something to which I still object. In order to make my objections clear it will help to distinguish between the two.
First, the fuller meaning I have given here is universal whereas the misuse to which I object is particular. The explanation I have offered gives more meaning to quite literally everything, not just odd bits of scripture here and there. It sees meaning in the entire Story of scripture, not to mention nature itself. I quote C.S. Lewis once more.
“It is not an accident that simple-minded people, however spiritual, should blend the ideas of God and Heaven and the blue sky. It is a fact, not a fiction, that light and life-giving heat do come down from the sky to the Earth. The analogy of the sky’s role to begetting and of the Earth’s role to bearing is sound as far as it goes. The huge dome of the sky is of all things sensuously perceived the most like infinity. And when God made space and worlds that move in space, and clothed our world with air, and gave us such eyes and such imaginations as those we have, He knew what the sky would mean to us. And since nothing in His work is accidental, if He knew, He intended. We cannot be certain that this was not indeed one of the chief purposes for which Nature was created.”18
This kind of sensus plenior infuses the whole world with meaning. Every rock and tree and creature is part of God’s grammar. It is his way of saying something about the way that the world is and the way that we are to relate to it and to him. This is different from the use I consider misuse. That sort of fuller meaning is not so full. It only claims a fuller meaning for certain passages of scripture. It is not a synthesis of the entire Story. And because it cannot show itself to be within the “style” of the whole it often appears as an intruder. The fuller meaning appears strange and out of place. It exists as a curiosity. It answers one question while it may raise others which it cannot satisfy. That is quite different from the sort I have a described, a sort which always feels at home within the whole.
Second, the fuller meaning I have shared here is accessible by Man’s reason, whereas the misuse of sensus plenior requires a special revelation of the Holy Spirit. This makes it appear as if the NT writers misused the OT by yanking scriptures out of context. We are then required to make special allowances for these writers which we would never make for any one else. As a friend once said to me, “They were allowed to use scripture out of context because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.”
The fuller meaning I have suggested provides a context wherein the NT use of the OT makes sense. It has a suitability to it, an appropriateness. The misuse of sensus plenior puts the NT writers in a place where they offer a context-less interpretation of a passage. It appears as an interpretation wholly unsuitable to the context of the OT passage.
Rotting Limb or Golden Bough?
I have gone out on a limb to express a view unique to myself.19 Paradoxically, this limb seems to me more likely to break with its sole occupant than it would if it bore up a great cloud of witnesses. I cannot help but feel, however, that the golden bough which sustains me is Truth. But let us assume, for argument’s sake, that the branch which I have made my home is not only rotten, but worse, is all together non-existent. What solid limb will knot my head as I tumble towards more solid ground? It is a view which is admittedly simpler, though not without its difficulties.
Perhaps it is not the case that the Bible writers, through prayerful struggle and meditation, as well as inspiration, saw Christ as the fulfillment of all scripture. Perhaps it was not that Christ fulfilled the whole Story of Israel and with it the long Story of the World. Maybe the Bible writers had no unified cosmic-historical vision. Let us suppose, rather, that I am wrong and that Matthew (and others) did often use the OT “out of context.” And let us suppose that they did so with divine permission. Finally, let us suppose that no Bible writer could have concluded what they did on their own but needed to be “clued in” on the sensus plenior, the fuller meaning, by the Holy Spirit. What does that say about our hermeneutics?
I can only repeat here what was stated in the previous article. If another meaning exists which is not accessible to us by our reason, then it is by definition context-less and therefore only accessible by a special gift from the Holy Spirit.
It seems that there are only two available options left open to us. If we believe there is a fuller meaning to a text we must be able to demonstrate its appropriateness within the Story of the World as revealed in scripture. It must fit with God’s “grammar”, with his “style.” There must be a suitability about it, as there is in the miracles of Jesus Christ and in his reenactment of the history of Israel. It must “fit.” Consider it like this:
“Let us suppose we possess parts of a novel or a symphony. Someone now brings us a newly discovered piece of a manuscript and says, ‘This is the missing part of the work. This is the chapter on which the whole plot of the novel really turned. This is the main theme of the symphony.’ Our business would be to see whether the new passage, if admitted to the central place which the discoverer claimed for it, did actually illuminate all the parts we had already seen and ‘pull them together.’ Nor should we be likely to go very far wrong. The new passage, if spurious, however attractive it looked at first glance, would become harder and harder to reconcile with the rest of the work the longer we considered the matter. But if it were genuine then at every fresh hearing of the music or every fresh reading of the book, we should find it settling down, making itself more at home and eliciting significance from all sorts of details in the whole work which we had hitherto neglected.”20
If the meaning we assign to the text, its primary meaning or its fuller one, does not have this appropriateness we must reject it. If it is not suitable then we may only maintain our proposed fuller meaning by claiming some special revelation of the Spirit. Insofar as I know of no one claiming such a revelation, we are left with only one way. The Story must make sense as a whole and whatever interpretations we claim for it must do the same.21 These are the controls which are placed upon our use of the Bible. If we do not respect these limits we risk abusing the text as well as using the text to abuse others. Only by such strict adherence to the Bible do we find the way forward, through the fog, by the lamp which God has granted us. Only his word is “a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105).
©M. Benfield 2017
1. You can see the painting here: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/739.html ; Accessed 29 March 2017.↩
2. A charge which my detractors will no doubt level against me.↩
3. This phrase comes from the Creed of Chalcedon, available here: http://www.theopedia.com/chalcedonian-creed ; Accessed 30 March 2017.↩
4. Some have suggested that John’s reference is to Ps. 34:20 instead of the Passover. This would seem odd. The promise in Psalms is deliverance from death. The reference to Passover, a description of death, is more fitting. Still, if the reference is to Psalms it supports the point that the “fulfillment” is not a fulfillment of an evident prophecy. It is a recapitulation of a promise.↩
5. I say “supposed to have said” because this quote comes from a recreation of a conversation between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The recreation, however, is based upon evidence from Tolkien and Lewis themselves and ought to be considered fairly reliable. If he did not say these exact words he certainly said something like it for he has said similar things in other places. E.g. when discussing Man’s habit of telling stories and making myths he writes, “We still make by the law in which we’re made” (from his poem Philomythus to Misomythus or Mythopoeia). If our making stories is according to “the law in which we’re made” it necessarily follows that our lives and all of history is a kind of divine story making or, to use Tolkien’s own word, mytho-poeia.↩
6. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 93.↩
7. C.S. Lewis, “Miracles”, God in the Dock, in The Timeless Writings of C.S. Lewis, (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 2004), 315.↩
9. Ibid, 316.↩
10. Lewis, Miracles, (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 186.↩
11. Ibid, 184.↩
12. Lewis, “Myth Became Fact”, God in the Dock, 343.↩
13. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 207.↩
14. Ibid, 176.↩
15. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”, in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, (London: HarperCollins 2006), 155-156.↩
16. Lewis, “Miracles”, God in the Dock, 316, 321.↩
17. Lewis, Miracles, 103.↩
18. Lewis, Miracles, 258.↩
19. It would be dishonest if I did not here mention N.T. Wright’s book Scripture and the Authority of God, (New York: HarperCollins, 2011). His approach was always in the back of my mind while writing and his approach has influenced me a great deal. He seems to have done with the Story of Israel what Chesterton, Tolkien, and Lewis did with myth. He finds Jesus, rightly I believe, reenacting the Story of Israel as Lewis and the rest saw Jesus reenacting great myths. It is right to wonder whether Wright is also indebted to these men. I think it likely insofar as he regularly admits the influence of C.S. Lewis. If our approaches are so similar, why call it unique to myself? First, Wright has, to my knowledge, never made his case in quite the same way I have. As a result I cannot be absolutely certain that he would agree. Second, because I cannot be sure he would agree, or put it quite the way I have, I have left off associating him with a view which he might oppose. Regardless, I wish to give credit where it is due and acknowledge his influence as well as certain similarities between what I affirm and what he has written.↩
20. Lewis, Miracles, 175-176.↩
21. Wright models this for us in the two case studies which conclude Scripture and the Authority of God. Even with practices which many think are quite clear cut, like Sabbath and Monogamy (his two case-studies), Wright shows that it is not enough to simply quote a verse. We can only trust that our interpretation of a verse is correct if it shares the style of the True Story of the World.↩