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Problem of Mirror Reading of Scripture

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  • Problem of Mirror Reading of Scripture

    I have seen in passing some cautions against doing a mirror reading of the text. As I understand the concept, a mirror reading means that one has assumed that the discussion of a doctrinal issue (in an epistle) thereby implies that this original audience was erring in the discouraged behavior.

    Is there a more accurate term? Is there a better definition?

    What is the main concern against mirror reading?

    Can a mirror reading actually reveal the actual situation that was occurring among the original audience members?

    When can we possibly accept a theory developed in such a manner?

    Are mirror readings just plain wrong?

  • #2
    I found a link on issues of Mirror reading.

    http://andynaselli.com/mirror-reading

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    • #3
      Naselli provides some good guidelines for when we can be fairly certain a mirror reading is appropriate. The most obvious examples that come to mind are when Paul calls out specific people in the church, either by name or in great detail (i.e. the man who is with his father's wife in 1 Cor). I personally suspect that mirror readings are appropriate in the NT epistles far more often than not, but as the blog post intimates, the issue may be that any attempt to reconstruct what the original problem was might lead us astray because much of it is obscure. I think this is especially difficult in 1 Corinthians, where Paul quotes a number of questions he had received, and where it is not always clear what constitutes a question and what constitutes Paul's statements (due to the lack of quotation marks).
      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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      • #4
        Out of curiosity, are there any passages you have in mind that you heavily suspect are not to be mirror read?
        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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        • #5
          No not specifically.

          I just wasn't sure if some of my analyses might be thought to be inappropriate mirror readings. I was trying to figure out how big of an issue this was. It sounds like it is just a concept to remember lest you go too far -- i.e. saying that every issue raised in the letter must have been a problem in the original group

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          • #6
            I've never heard of the term 'mirror reading', but it seems appropriate enough. Every historico-critical reading of a text trys to appreciate the importance of the original context and intent of an author, which will always remain somewhat obscure, if not opaque. In this respect, every text can function as a mirror of ourselves.
            βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
            ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

            אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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