Sensus plenior

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The Holy Bible

Sensus plenior is a Latin phrase that means "fuller sense" or "fuller meaning".[1][2] It is used in Biblical exegesis to describe the supposed deeper meaning intended by God but not by the human author. Walter C. Kaiser notes that the term was coined by F. Andre Fernandez in 1927 but was popularized by Raymond E. Brown.[3]

Brown defines sensus plenior as

That additional, deeper meaning, intended by God but not clearly intended by the human author, which is seen to exist in the words of a biblical text (or group of texts, or even a whole book) when they are studied in the light of further revelation or development in the understanding of revelation.[4]

That implies that more meaning can be found within scripture than the original human authors intended and so the study of scripture that isolates a particular book and concerns itself only with the details of the author's time and situation can be incomplete.

Sensus plenior corresponds to rabbinical interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures, remez ("hint"), drash ("search"), and/or sod ("secret"), by which deeper meaning is drawn out or from the text.

John Goldingay suggests that the citation of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 is a "stock example" of sensus plenior.[5]

Conservative Christians have used the term to mean the larger or whole teaching of scripture.

See also


  1. ^ "Sensus plenior". 21 July 2012. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  2. ^ "What does the term sensus plenior mean?". 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  3. ^ Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "Single Meaning, Unified Referents: Accurate and Authoritative Citations of the Old Testament by the New Testament," in Kenneth Berding and Jonathan Lunde, ed., Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 47.
  4. ^ Raymond E. Brown, The Sensus Plenior of Sacred Scripture (Baltimore: St. Mary's University, 1955), 92.
  5. ^ Goldingay, John (2002). Approaches to Old Testament Interpretation. Clements Publishing Group. p. 108.

Additional references

  • Raymond E. Brown, "The History and Development of the Theory of a Sensus Plenior," CBQ 15 (1953) 141 - 162.
  • The Jerome Biblical Commentary Vol. 1 1971, Geoffry Chapman Publishers, London, pp. 605–23.
  • David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary 1992, Maryland, pp. 11–4.

External links

  • Brent Parker (24 September 2012). "The Roman Catholic Debate Over Sensus Plenior". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  • Matthew W.I. Dunn (September 2007). "Raymond Brown and the sensus plenior interpretation of the Bible". Studies in Religion. 36 (3–4): 531–551. doi:10.1177/000842980703600306. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
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