A History of Biblical Interpretation - Vol. 1

A History of Biblical Interpretation - Vol. 1

A History of Biblical Interpretation - Vol. 1

A History of Biblical Interpretation - Vol. 1

Synopsis

At first glance, it may seem strange that after more than two thousand years of biblical interpretation there are still major disagreements among biblical scholars about what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures say and about how one is to read and understand them. Yet the range of interpretive approaches now available is the result both of the richness of the biblical texts themselves and of differences in the worldviews of the communities and individuals who have sought to make the Scriptures relevant to their own time and place.

A History of Biblical Interpretation provides detailed and extensive studies of the interpretation of the Scriptures by Jewish and Christian writers throughout the ages. Written by internationally renowned scholars, this multivolume work comprehensively treats the many different methods of interpretation, the many important interpreters who have written in various eras, and the many key issues that have surfaced repeatedly over the long course of biblical interpretation.

This first volume of A History of Biblical Interpretation explores interpreters and their methods in the ancient period, from the very earliest stages to the time when the canons of Judaism and Christianity gained general acceptance. The first part of the book concentrates on the use of the Scriptures within Judaism. Chapters examine inner-biblical exegesis in the Tanak, the development of the Septuagint, the exegetical approach of Philo of Alexandria, biblical interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Targumim, the nature of rabbinic midrash, the stabilization of the Hebrew Bible, and the interpretation of the Bible in the Jewish Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.

The second part of the book probes themes specific to Christian interpretation of the biblical texts. Chapters here discusses how Israel's Scriptures are used in the New Testament writings, the hermeneutical approaches of the Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists, Alexandrian and Antiochene exegesis, the contributions of Jerome and Augustine, the formation of the New Testament canon, and the interpretation of Scripture in the New Testament Apocrypha and Gnostic writings.

In addition to these in-depth studies, the volume includes a substantial introduction by the editors that gives readers both a broad overview of the primary issues and features of ancient biblical interpretation as treated in this volume and a means of sampling the ways in which the key figures, schools of interpretation, and issues discussed interweave and contrast with each other.

Up to date, balanced, and engagingly written, this superb work -- and those to follow -- will soon become a standard resource on the history of biblical interpretation.

Excerpt

At first glance, it may seem an anomaly that after more than two thousand years of biblical interpretation, there are still major disagreements today among biblical scholars about what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures say, and about how one is to interpret and understand their content. Indeed, the late twentieth century has been witnessing the dissolution of what had been for well over a hundred years at least a substantial consensus among scholars about how to interpret the Bible, and how to understand and explain what it says. To the outsider this may seem amazing, since both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures are a limited corpus of writings, and have been exhaustively studied by Jews and Christians for centuries — indeed, millennia. Why, then, is it necessary for interpretation to continue in the extensive way that is in evidence today, with a rapidly-growing variety of approaches being employed? And, more directly to the point of this multi-volume work on interpretation, why is it necessary to study extensively the many interpreters and methods of interpretation that have been used since the late ancient world? Can we not cut through all this and discern the true message of these Scriptures, discarding all other approaches and teachings as incorrect and therefore unnecessary?

The answer to the last question is clearly "no." The reasons for this negative answer are twofold: the multi-layered richness and open-endedness of the biblical text itself; and the interplay of this diverse richness with the enormous variety in the worldviews of the various communities and individuals, living in many different ages, who have had to interpret the Scriptures in order to provide a direct and vital message for each of these communities and individuals. Thus, one could say that the interpretive possibilities are infinite . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.