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Interpreting the Bible and the Constitution$
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Jaroslav Pelikan

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300102673

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300102673.001.0001

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Cruxes of Interpretation in the Bible and in the Constitution

Cruxes of Interpretation in the Bible and in the Constitution

How can I understand unless some one gives me the clue? (Acts 8.31 NEB)

(p.38) 2 Cruxes of Interpretation in the Bible and in the Constitution
Interpreting the Bible and the Constitution

Jaroslav Pelikan

Yale University Press

This chapter illustrates how Christian exegetes of Holy Scripture have often spoken of a passage as a crux interpretum, a crux of the interpreters and of interpretation, defined as “a difficulty which it torments or troubles one greatly to interpret or explain.” Also, a passage may be a crux interpretum because it raises seemingly insuperable doctrinal difficulties. In the Constitution, among many other cruces interpretum, is what Sanford Levinson refers to as “the embarrassing Second Amendment.” After the probing of the grammar of its unique preamble, the amendment would still seem to be “obscure.” Even beyond its technical meaning, therefore, cruces interpretum is a fitting term for the issues and ambiguities of interpretation that are faced by the exegetes both of Christian and of American Scripture.

Keywords:   crux interpretum, Christian exegetes, Holy Scripture, doctrinal difficulties, Sanford Levinson, embarrassing Second Amendment, American Scripture

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