On Being Part of an Exegetical Tradition

“After rehearsing the story of the decision to produce a new set of annotations and of the formation of their committee, the English annotators go on to clarify the nature of their efforts and the relation of their work to several sets of eminent earlier annotations, namely Diodati’s Italian Annotations, the Dutch Annotations arising out of the Synod of Dort, and Geneva Annotations.  So also, in the case of the Geneva Annotations, the annotators indicate their respect for this revered running commentary and state that they view it as entirely orthodox, free from theological errors–yet they have worked as the “builders of a new house,” not merely patchign up an old edifice, but taking it down and replacing it with a new one. Then they rather carefully note . . . their reliance on these previous expositions of the text. They have indeed used texts,

yet so, that if we have borrowed aught of either, as they have done of those, who did precede them, in the like Observations, we shall desire but to take it to usury, and to make our returne of what we receive, farre above the rate of ordinary interest: And in this holy businesse we have no other ambition than to give better satisfaction to an apprehensive Reader, for the sense of the whole Bible, then (in this kinde) we have met withall, in any one Worke of what Authors soever.

“In their method, therefore, they have followed the advice of the apostles, recognizing that no Scripture is “of private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20) and also that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 13:42)–accordingly, the “private dictates” of the annotators have been “submitted . . . to the censure and correction of [their] Colleagues in this Service daily assembled together, for the perusal of every ones parts.” Clearly, then, there were borrowings: the new house was not erected out of entirely new brick and lumber–but the annotators not only assumed this background in the earlier tradition, both by their admission and explanation and by their anonymity, they refrained from taking personal credit for what they perceived to be the propounding, not of personal opinion, but of the results of an exegetical tradition of which they were a part” (Richard A. Muller and Rowland S. Ward, Scripture and Worship: Biblical Interpretation and the Directory for Worship, 28-29).