Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday

By Klauber, Martin I. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 1999 | Go to article overview

Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday


Klauber, Martin I., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday. Edited by Richard A. Muller and John L. Thompson. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, xvi + 351 pp., $35.00.

David C. Steinmetz has produced a host of scholarly studies throughout his life on the intellectual history of the Reformation. Early in his career, he focused on Luther and his relationship and his spiritual mentor at the Augustinian monastery, Johann von Staupitz. He then went on to study Luther's exegesis within the context of the history of biblical interpretation. His most recent research has turned to Calvin and the Reformed movement with the goal of placing the Genevan reformer within the context of the history of exegesis. His scholarly publications have contributed to a better understanding of the continuity of Reformation thought with medieval and patristic tradition.

Steinmetz has also mentored a host of doctoral students at Duke University who have gone on to publish significant works in the history of both exegesis and theology. Two of his most prominent proteges, Richard Muller and John Thompson, have edited this fitting tribute to one of the most respected "doctor-fathers" of this generation. In addition, Steinmetz's own mentor from Harvard, Heiko Oberman, pays tribute to his student in the foreword.

Oberman correctly notes the contemporary tension between the intellectual and social history of the Reformation. However we historians of Christian thought may chide our social history colleagues for their alleged lack of compelling documentation, we face the inherent difficulty of separating our own theological and cultural biases from the subjects we study. Oberman credits Steinmetz with helping to overcome such a handicap. Oberman also correctly notes that this type of study demands specialized training in history, theology, biblical and other foreign languages, so that there is only a handful of scholars who are really capable of writing significant works about the history of exegesis.

Muller, in the introduction, discusses the continuity of biblical exegesis between medieval and Reformation thought. He points out that the study of the exegesis of the Reformation has grown significantly over the last two decades, largely due to the work of Steinmetz. Older studies such as that of Farrar tended not to interpret the reformers within their medieval context, but in late-nineteenth and early twentiethcentury categories. Muller argues that the Reformation era benefitted from the Renaissance's emphasis upon the return to original sources. Improved knowledge of the biblical languages was a major factor in the gradual shift from the fourfold method of exegesis to the quest for the literal meaning of the text.

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