G. B. Caird

Course: Biblical Hermeneutics

Lecture: G. B. Caird


Reading from C.S. Lewis on Christian Marriage.

 

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism — for that is what the words ‘one flesh’ would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact — just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.

As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment. What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else.
~ Christian Marriage by C.S. Lewis

Let us pray.

Father in Heaven we are thankful for this gift you have given to us and to your creation in general – the gift of marriage. We pray especially as Christians that we will honor, that we will treasure this great gift. For those of us who are married, we pray that we will dedicate ourselves to a love affair with our beloved that will last for all this lifetime and will continue into eternity. Protect our marriages our Father. Give us in times of difficulty the kind of love that remembers the oath and promise we made that we will be true until death us do part. We pray our Father then for our families. We pray our Father for those in our midst that are about to be married in the near future that you would bless them in this, that indeed we will exemplify to the world this great gift that you have given to us for we ask in Jesus name. Amen.

The material by G.B. Caird which we tried to have the copyright permitting us to duplicate. That has not taken place so that you have not been able to read Caird. Is that right?

Students: ??? on the website.

Dr. Stein:  It was on the website. Ok. So some of you have but let me just make a few comments about Caird here about some of the things that I think are especially important.  In chapter 2 in this book, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, he talks about meaning in different ways. 

He talks about meaning with an ‘r’, meaning with respect to referent. 
meaning with a ‘v’, meaning with respect to value.
meaning with an ‘e’ with respect to entailment.
meaning with a ‘s’ in regard to sense.
meaning with ‘i’ in regard to intension

Now he says that this is the way that this word is used and to distinguish the various differences and nuances involved in this word, he puts a letter with it. Now with regard to meaning with respect to referent, he has an interesting comment and I think it is absolutely right on.

He says, “the distinction between sense and referent is so indispensable to any discussion of meaning and so self-evident once it has been pointed out that it is a shock to find learned writers ignoring it.”

Now he is absolutely right on. There are professors who teach and when it comes to meaning there is great confusion for them as to the meaning with respect to the sense or the meaning with regard to referent. Now with referent he is referring to what we call the subject matter. 

Meaning with respect to what is ??? referring or talking about - the subject matter, the stuff, the event – if you talk about historical materials.

Meaning with respect to value, we have a separate word for. When you value the meaning we are talking about significance. So we will use the word significant.

Meaning with regard to entailment points out that sometimes when we talk about a word, we are talking not about what it means but what this word entails. We have a separate word for that which would be implication. The implications of something.

Meaning with regard to sense would be our simple meaning as such and meaning with regard to intension, I would say is also what we would call meaning if the author is competent. Okay? He makes a separate issue there because sometimes it also might not be competent to do what he is writing. We agree.

But here he has these different ways of expressing meaning – different ways the word is used and he defines these different ways. We fortunately have a vocabulary in which all of those separate aspects have a particular term. It is easier to refer to subject matter than meaning referent. Easier to talk to significance than talk to meaning value. It is easier to talk about implications than meaning entailment then so forth and so on.

But much of what he says in the chapter is very valuable if we translate into our own vocabulary it makes a lot of sense.

Student: I thought that was really interesting. I thought ???

Dr. Stein:  Yeah. Well, we will look at some of that and later on in the rest of the book, he deals with some of that. He is a moderate in the sense that he is not the radical British scholar but he is not a where we are either. He is in between that way. And so for him if there are mistakes in the Bible it is not quite as big a problem as it is for us.

Student: ???

Dr. Stein:  We will come across one thing about prophesy when we talk about that later today. Let us hold off on that.

Now he has a couple of places I just want to refer to what he says because it is helpful for us. Page 39, two-tenths of the way down there is a new paragraph and it reads this way.

“In our attempt to analyze the meaning of meaning we shall have to discriminate between the public meaning which is characteristic of language and the users meaning which is characteristic of speech.”

Our vocabulary – let us translate that.  We must distinguish between public meaning which is characteristic of language and the user’s meaning which is characteristic of speech. Yeah. The norms of language versus the norms of the utterance.  So ok.

Seven-tenths of the way down:

“To understand why a speaker says what he does is not the same things as understanding what he is saying. Many times in the Bible we will know what the Biblical author is saying but we are just wildly guessing as to why he may say that.  We may notice that a Biblical writer – James – is emphasizing the importance of good works with regard to the Christian faith. Why does he emphasize this? That is part of the mental access that we don’t have access to. Sometimes the writer will tell us why he is saying it. Well that is no longer the mental access part of what he expressly states, but to understand why a speaker says what he does is not the same as understanding what he is saying. We can understand what he is saying much more easily than why he or she may be saying that.”

Then in page 40, right in the middle of the page at the end of that paragraph there,

“The most we are entitled to say is that any speaker who wishes to be intelligible will take account of the capacity of his audience so that our judgment about what they are likely to have made of his words provides one possible clue to his intention.”

“Here is why if we say the author is competent, he is using shareable words, how would his reader have understood this combination of words? If we can understand that and we can then we have a good idea of what the author is trying to say. Then…”

Two more references and then we will leave Caird.

The one I have read already. 61

“In dealing with the words of the Bible, we are bound by evidence. Literary critics have wisely warned us against the intentional fallacy – the error of supposing that a writer meant something other than he has actually written.”

We get very spiritual about that too. We have a deeper meaning than what the apostle meant, that the Holy Spirit has given us or something like this. 

“We have no access to the mind of Jeremiah or Paul except through their recorded words – a fortiori – how much more. We have no access to the Word of God in the Bible except through the words in the mind of those who claim to speak in His name. We may disbelieve them – Paul or Jeremiah – that is our right. But if we try without evidence to penetrate to a meaning more ultimate than the one the writers intended, that is our meaning, not theirs or God’s.”

I want to read that again. I like that.

“Literary critics have wisely warned us against the intentional fallacy – the error of supposing that a writer meant something other than he has actually written. We have no access to the mind of Jeremiah or Paul except through their recorded words how much more. We have no access to the Word of God in the Bible except through the words in the mind of those who claim to speak in His name. We may disbelieve them that is our right. But if we try without evidence to penetrate to a meaning more ultimate than the one the writers intended, that is our meaning, not theirs or God’s.”

Very good material from G.B. Caird.