In my last post, I presented Wright’s OT Ethical Framework, which consists of three major components: God, Israel and the land. Ethics in the OT revolve around these foundational concepts.
Wright extends his use of the OT Ethical Framework in his Paradigmatic Interpretation. This interpretive process provides meaning and insight for Christians today who look back to the Law to find its original function and benefit today. I had written on this earlier, and I know some of you thought I was making this word up. But, alas, Wright uses the same word (several years before I could read “c-a-t” much less “para-dig-mat-ic”). Wright describes his approach in the following way:
This approach rests on the belief that God’s relation to Israel in their land was a deliberate reflection of God’s relation to humankind on the earth. Or, to be more precise, God’s involvement with Israel in their land was God’s redemptive address to the fracturing of his creative purpose for human beings and the earth. Humanity has rebelled and lives on an earth under God’s curse. Israel was redeemed and lived in a land God promised to bless (Wright, OT Ethics, 183).
In short, paradigmatic interpretation calls for finding principles within the Law and making application in a different setting and context. It adds flexibility to a law and allows it to find meaning when the particular circumstances of a law have changed.
The reason this works is because there is a direct connection between the central elements of Creation and Israel’s ethics. Wright states that this is a “deliberate reflection of God’s relation to humankind on the earth.” In the beginning, human sin corrupted God’s original intention for creation. God’s redemptive purposes, which most conspicuously started with Abraham and progressed in the nation of Israel, address the fundamental plight of humanity.
To say it another way, the OT Law reflects the heart of God, which makes sense because God is the source of the Law. It originated with him. It displays his creational (o.k., so maybe that one’s made up) intentions and reveals his redemptive purposes. It is the basis for what is carried forth into the New Testament. It provides indispensable background for understanding the NT.
It finds value today because it addresses proper perspectives for God, society and economic resources. As much as societies changes, neither God nor human nature has changed. In many ways, we are still dealing with the same issues addressed in the Law.
My next post on Wright’s Interpretive Framework can be found here, addressing Eschatological Interpretation.