Matthew’s account of Jesus, Peter and their miraculous payment of the Temple tax is a classic literary puzzle. Providentially, the Bible’s own covenant-literary matrix is its key.
To understand where John is coming from in his first epistle, we must understand where he is. John has brought us with him into the heavenly Temple.
Why are there seven bowls of wrath in Revelation 16, and from where did they come? Those familiar with the Old Testament will relate them to the Day of Atonement, but only the literary architecture reveals their actual source and identity.
The account of Israel’s sin with the golden calf is flanked by the instructions for the Tabernacle and the construction of the Tabernacle. Israel breaks the Covenant and God makes a “new” one. As an easily-defined pericope, what are the chances that this section is “Covenant-shaped”?
Wheels Within Wheels
The structure of the Bible resembles something which was grown rather than built, composed rather than assembled. Its employment of “structure-as-sign” at every level from micro- to macrocosmic leads to the conclusion that a hermeneutic worthy of Scripture requires not only training in history, art and music but also the wits bequeathed to us by modern fractal geometry.
The verb “descend” is used ten times in the Revelation, often describing something coming down from heaven. Is there a pattern in the order of these things that descend?
When the prophet Nathan told David of a rich man who had stolen and killed a poor man’s sheep (2 Samuel 12), David’s judgment that the man restore it fourfold was based on the stipulation in Exodus 22:1. But why does that law stipulate a fivefold restoration for the same crime concerning an ox?
Richard Bauckham points out that in John’s Gospel, Jesus has seven, relatively extended, private conversations. When gathered together as a single sequence, these appear to recapitulate the homologous, heptamerous sequences in Genesis 1 and 2.
The Hidden Dimension
In many fields of scientific study, the apparent complications and contradictions are dispelled once the internal logic is perceived. Biblical hermeneutics is no different, since the author of Creation is the Author of the Word. The Bible’s literary labyrinth radiates organically from an algorithm so simple it can be grasped by a child.
Psalm 82 begins with the Lord in his “house of lords,” but He is there because they have been doing what is right in their own eyes. Thus, this prophetic song is as applicable to the authorities of our own day as it was in any previous era in history.