Friday, September 9, 2011

Presuppositions in Biblical Studies

I was looking up some information about the book of Daniel today in An Introduction to the Old Testament by Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III (Zondervan, 1994).  The book of Daniel has a number of controversies that swirl around it.  Some of these are due to the presuppositions brought to the text.  Those with a naturalistic world view simply cannot countenance any notion of predictive prophecy.  This comes out very clearly in the quotation that Dillard and Longman provide regarding Daniel chapter 8 from commentator W. S. Towner who did the commentary on Daniel for the Interpretation series.  Towner writes:
We need to assume that the vision as a whole is a prophecy after the fact.  Why?  Because human beings are unable accurately to predict future events centuries in advance and to say that Daniel could do so, even on the basis of a symbolic revelation vouchsafed to him by God and interpreted by an angel, is to fly in the face of the certainties of human nature.  So what we have here is in fact not a road map of the future laid down in the sixth century B.C. but an interpretation of the events of the author's own time, 167-164 B.C. ...
So called "human certainties" trump a basis of divine intervention.  But this is only true if the absence of God is a "human certainty."  This is not argued for but merely asserted without the slightest regard for proving that point.  I have no doubt Towner is competent in Hebrew and linguistic analysis but philosophically he is wildly off-mark in his question-begging assertions.  What often happens in the disciplines of Old and New Testament studies is that such philosophical nonsense is assumed (and sometimes spouted!) and this is to be merely accepted as "scholarship."  Rarely is there even any attempted justification for the world view that undergirds such positions.