Paradigms and Rules

Assuming a paradigm’s community desires consistency, their general paradigm will dictate specific rules for the community’s research (i.e., means for investigation and standards for evaluation; Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions 43, 48, 94; cf. Achinstein 413; Thiselton 711). Yet, these rules do not themselves provide coherence to a given tradition of normal science (Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions 44). Rather, these rules are interpretations of an antecedent paradigm that causes a given, normal-scientific tradition to cohere (Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions 43–44, 46).1

Yet, Kuhn elsewhere argues that “[e]xplicit rules, when they exist, are usually common to a very broad scientific group, but paradigms need not be” (Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions 49; italics added), which might seem to suggest a different derivational order than the one just mentioned. Still, Kuhn makes the assertion just quoted explicitly to support his contention that paradigms logically precede rules (Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions 49). The rules common to broad, scientific groups, therefore, appear to be rules dictated by the more general “macro-paradigm” to which “science” and “scientists” hold, although these categories themselves contain substantial variegation. For instance, as currently practiced, “modern science” generally presupposes as valuable things like “accuracy, consistency, scope, simplicity, fruitfulness, explanatory power, and plausibility” (Achinstein 413; cf. Kuhn, Essential Tension 321–22). Consequently, when Kuhn speaks of rules that characterize a broader group than do paradigms, he apparently intends to designate slightly different referents for these key terms than he does at other points in his argument. That is, the more globally acknowledged rules derive from the broader scientific community’s shared (macro-)paradigm, which Kuhn leaves in silent opposition to the narrower paradigms, which he explicitly mentions, and which characterize individual, normal-scientific communities.


1 Upon receiving numerous critiques about apparent imprecision in his use of the term “paradigm,” Kuhn subsequently clarifies the concept’s nuances in precisely this fashion. No one, exhaustive paradigm exists. Rather, the scientific community as a whole shares a certain paradigm with a minimal set of characteristics, and various scientific sub-communities hold paradigms that contain additional characteristics and that compete with the paradigms of other groups (Kuhn, Essential Tension 294).

In this post:

Science Rules
Peter Achinstein
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thiselton on Hermeneutics
Anthony Thiselton

“Normal” Science

Within a given, normal-scientific tradition, the reigning paradigm directs research by suggesting which experiments and data are relevant to resolving a given problem and which are irrelevant (Kuhn 18, 24, 34). The paradigm also guides new and more specific theory articulation, and the paradigm permits practitioners in a given field to dispense with rearticulating the field’s foundations in each new work they produce (Kuhn 18–20, 23, 34). Thus, a paradigm entails promises about problems that it will resolve and new achievements that it will enable, and normal science, the process in which most scientists work for most of their careers, demonstrates how these promises actually operate (Kuhn 23–24, 30, 35–42). In all cases, however, the paradigm of a given, normal-scientific tradition definitively determines the research that is performed within that paradigm—“to desert the paradigm is to cease practicing the science it defines” (Kuhn 34, 46). Yet, a paradigm is susceptible to various articulations as long as these diversions self-confessedly work from and toward what the paradigm’s community considers to be sufficient common ground (Kuhn 46–47, 73; cf. Hung 62–70; see also Carson 88–89).


In this post:

D. A. Carson
D. A. Carson
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Beyond Kuhn
Edwin Hung

“Heavenly Mindedness and Earthly Good”

Craig Keener has the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, “Heavenly Mindedness and Earthly Good: Contemplating Matters Above in Colossians 3.1–2.”

This article traces in turn ancient philosophy’s contemplation of heavenly matters; evocations of such language in other early Jewish and Christian sources; the significance of our author’s christocentric [sic] focus in his adaptation of the language in 3.1; the behavioral implications the author draws from this christocentric [sic] focus; the intelligibility of those implications in light of ancient philosophy; and how the immediate context shapes eschatological implications in the author’s evocation of heaven. [The] focus and primary contribution [is] elaborating how ancient hearers would have received the passage, especially in view of ancient philosophy. [That is, f]or philosophers, the pure and heavenly deity was abstract and transcendent; for Colossians, the heavenly focus is Christ, fitting the christocentric [sic] emphasis of this letter. For Colossians, contemplating Christ also leads naturally to Christlike character, in contrast to the pursuit of earthly passions (175, 190).

Journal of Biblical Literature 128.4

The winter issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature includes:

New Testament and Cognate Fields

Jewish Scripture and Cognate Fields

RBL Newsletter (December 24, 2009)

The latest, Christmas Eve, reviews from the Review of Biblical Literature include the following:

New Testament and Cognate Studies

Hermeneutics and Cognate Fields

Jewish Scripture and Cognate Fields

2010 SECSOR Presentation

A few weeks ago, I received confirmation that my paper, “‫ מורה הצדק‬ as a Hermeneutical Functionary in the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts,” has been accepted for presentation at the 2010 meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion. Here is a brief abstract:

Although a good deal of work has been done on the hermeneutical method(s) found at Qumran, to date, insufficient attention has been given to the presuppositional matrix that allowed these methods to function at Qumran as they did. For, after all, considered in themselves, theses and interpretations appear valid not primarily because of the method by which they were derived but because of the perceived fit between a given thesis and an accepted worldview paradigm. Therefore, this paper will seek to show: (1) that ‫מורה הצדק‬ (the teacher of righteousness) himself definitively determined the Qumran community’s hermeneutical matrix in certain, specific respects and (2) that these specific determinations helped the Qumran community understand their scriptures in conjunction with what they knew to be their own, special position in ‫’יהוה‬s plan for Israel.

I am very much looking forward to this presentation and the interaction that follows. If you are interested in attending and honoring me with your ears, I believe this presentation, unless something changes, will be in the American Academy of Religion’s first History of Judaism section.

“Early Readers of the Gospels”

Greg Goswell has the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, “Early Readers of the Gospels: The Kephalaia and Titloi of Codex Alexandrinus.” Goswell observes that “there is substantial variation among the codices [Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and Sinaiticus] with regard to where [chapter] divisions are placed” (135) and argues that

A survey of the kephalaia in the four Gospels [of Alexandrinus] indicates that their placement is not haphazard but reflects an evaluation of the flow of the narratives and shows insight into the meaning of the story. Some breaks are close together, but others are widely separated. There are considerable differences in the length of the sections, reflecting a perception of the nature of the text by those responsible for the sectioning. Even a glance at the headings assigned to the kephalaia reveal the large element of commonality between the four Gospels (e.g. the headings of Mt. A6, Mk A4 and Lk. A12 that all read ‘Concerning the leper’), but they also bring to light, at times, what is distinctive about particular Gospels (e.g. the differing themes of the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke). . . . The function of a textual break in separating or joining material has at times provided . . . exegetical insights. One clear trend within all four Gospels is the highlighting of the element of the miraculous in the ministry of Jesus and (the reverse side of this) the downplaying of his teaching. The headings usually focus on the fact of controversy between Jesus and the religious leaders rather than what issues were controverted. The lack of attention given to dominical passion predictions and the paucity of divisions within the passion narrative itself suggest that there is little focus upon the suffering and atoning death of Jesus. Instead the divisions in the passion narratives reflect a homiletical tradition (or liturgical usage) in which there is a moralistic focus on positive and negative ethical examples (172–74).

RBL Newsletter (November 30, 2009)

The latest reviews from the Review of Biblical Literature include the following:

New Testament and Cognate Studies

Jewish Scripture and Cognate Studies

Other Fields

This Year’s IBR Giveaway

At the Friday night meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research, there is traditionally a book giveaway of some kind. At my first IBR last year, attendees received M. Daniel Carroll R.’s Christians at the Border and either Theological Interpretation of the New Testament (ed. Kevin Vanhoozer, Daniel Treier, and N. T. Wright) or Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament (ed. Kevin Vanhoozer, Craig Bartholomew, and Daniel Treier).

The Theology of John's Gospel and Letters: The Word, the Christ, the Son of God At this year’s meeting, Zondervan kindly provided copies of Andreas Köstenberger’s recently released Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters: The Word, the Christ, the Son of God. According to the publisher’s description,

A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters introduces the first volume in the BTNT series. Building on many years of research and study in Johannine literature, Andreas Köstenberger not only furnishes an exhaustive theology of John’s Gospel and letters, but also provides a detailed study of major themes and relates them to the Synoptic Gospels and other New Testament books. Readers will gain an in-depth and holistic grasp of Johannine theology in the larger context of the Bible.

As a whole, the forthcoming volumes of the Biblical Theology of the New Testament series will also

provide[] upper college and seminary-level textbooks for students of New Testament theology, interpretation, and exegesis. Pastors and discerning theology readers alike will also benefit from this series. Written at the highest level of academic excellence by recognized experts in the field, the BTNT series not only offers a comprehensive exploration of the theology of every book of the New Testament, including introductory issues and major themes, but also shows how each book relates to the broad picture of New Testament theology.

The authors for the forthcoming volumes on the other New Testament documents and corpora besides the Johannine Gospel and letters are as follows:

  • Michael Wilkins (Matthew)
  • David Garland (Mark)
  • Darrell Bock (Luke-Acts)
  • Douglas Moo (Paul)
  • George Guthrie (Hebrews)
  • Thomas Schreiner (Peter, James, and Jude)
  • Andreas Köstenberger and Alan Bandy (Revelation)

So, the series appears poised to provide several, helpful resources for students and teachers of the New Testament from a biblical-theological angle, and it will be interesting to see precisely how the future volumes come together.