Perspectives on Biblical Interpretation: A Review Article

By Ellis, E. Earle | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Perspectives on Biblical Interpretation: A Review Article


Ellis, E. Earle, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The recent two-volume Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation edited by Dr. John Hayes is a notable achievement and the most extensive English work of its kind in over a decade.1 It enlists the support of some 400 contributors from Protestant (primarily), Roman and Orthodox Catholic (considerably), and Jewish confessions, who are largely American but include a good number from Canada, Great Britain, the European Continent, Israel, and Australia.

Among its most valuable features, the Dictionary offers numerous biographical sketches of individuals who have contributed to the interpretation of the Scripture in various times, places, and manners.2 In these brief essays alone it offers readers an education about the course of historical developments in biblical studies, an education that is very substantial even if a few names raise an eyebrow and some are overlooked that another editor might have included.3

A second profitable feature and a major element of the work is the history of interpretation of each biblical book 4 and of the intertestamental Apocrypha. The emphasis on the patristic, Reformation or modern periods and on particular issues and representative figures vary with the interests of each contributor. But they are generally judicious choices, although the understandable focus on twentieth-century developments sometimes unduly shortens the discussion of earlier stages of interpretation.

The Dictionary also includes valuable pieces on ancilliary disciplines, such as "Archeology and Biblical Studies" or "Assyriology and Biblical Studies."5 It has essays on some early Jewish and early Christian fictional, pseudepigraphal, and other writings;6 on ancient rabbinic interpretations of Scripture-the Targumim, Midrash, the Talmud; one essay on the Dead Sea Scrolls7 and one on Islamic biblical interpretation in the Koran (essentially a dry hole).8 It considers "Maps of the Biblical World" and "Dictionaries and Encyclopedias" and directs substantial attention to art, music, Western literature, lexicons, and to historical and literary issues in contemporary biblical interpretation, giving special treatments to the particular questions. These matters may perhaps be best addressed in a discussion of significant issues, of particular pieces of special interest, and of questions of method.

I. OLD TESTAMENT ISSUES

Essays on the historical analysis of OT topics appear to be generally stronger than their NT counterparts. Many are largely devoted to a history of research in which the views of the contributor become evident only in the writers selected as representative, and they usually leave open-ended the current state of the art, with scholars of different viewpoints duly noted.9

The most significant pieces on Israel's history10 give major attention to source criticism within the history of research, less to the themes or to the theology of the biblical material. Although their disregard is compensated somewhat by a general essay on OT,11 they would have been strengthened by a greater consideration of the biblical writers' purpose and interpretation as viewed by the contributor and by other modern writers.

Most essays concentrate on the historical concerns of the modern period of mainstream research, that is, that the earlier historical books (Genesis2 Kings) began as smaller written units or sources and, for most scholars, came into their present form only about the time of the exile or later. 12

Some note criticisms of J. Wellhausen, an outstanding nineteenth-century representative of this approach, for imposing an evolutionary and, one might add, Hegelian 13 pattern in his reconstruction. 14 Others are concerned with Scandinavian and British schools' advocacy of a long-term oral transmission 15 and, quite different, with the claimed use of folklore.

If one grants a documentary process from the time of Moses l6 or shortly thereafter,17 a key question still remains unresolved and largely unaddressed: the precise nature and process of the creation and transmission of the traditions and of the OT documents. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Perspectives on Biblical Interpretation: A Review Article
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.