A History of Biblical Interpretation. Vol. 2: The Medieval through the Reformation Periods

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A History of Biblical Interpretation. Vol. 2: The Medieval through the Reformation Periods. Edited by Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. 2009. Pp. xii, 570. $50.00. ISBN 978-0-802-84274-9.)

Biblical scholarship from the end of antiquity through the Reformation and early-modern period is, needless to say, a vast subject. Extant commentaries on biblical books- Jewish and Christian, Catholic and Protestant- are numerous. Any single effort toward systematizing its contents or even describing its growth over history is deemed to be fragmentary and incomplete. What should the focus of such an endeavor be? Should it concentrate on the most influential texts and movements of the period? Or perhaps bring to light the least studied? Or should the focus be on the exegesis most relevant to its times, or perhaps on the most relevant to our time? These questions are all apparent in this book- the second volume in a series- which aims to provide a survey of biblical interpretation spanning the 1000 years of history and the different confessional settings implied by its title.

After a lengthy "Introduction and Overview" contributed by the editors and seeking to bring the most salient points of the ensuing contributions together, the first chapter on biblical interpretation proper, "Early Medieval Exegesis: Gregory I to the Twelfth Century" by Mary A. Mayeski, covers the first 500 years or so of medieval Western exegesis and seeks to capture its character as well as describe its methods and development. The result is with necessity rather patchy given the mere nineteen pages (of which one is a table) it has been allotted. The following two chapters, "Jewish Midrashic Interpretation in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages" by Carol Bakhos and "Medieval Jewish Biblical Exegesis" by Robert A. Harris, cover the medieval Jewish biblical interpretation of largely the corresponding period. This is followed by a piece on "Eastern Orthodox Biblical Interpretation" by Paul M. Blowers, using this title in spite of the fact that all but two of the quoted authors lived before the year of the Great Schism.

Not only interpretation in the strict sense is covered by the volume, and the next two chapters deal with the history, development, and reception of the text of the Old and New Testaments respectively, "The Text of theTanak" by Russell Fuller and "The Text of the New Testament" by J. …