History of Biblical Interpretation: A Reader


What questions do interpreters ask of Scripture and how have those questions changed over time? History of Biblical Interpretation starts at 150 BCE and moves to the present in exploring the major developments and principal approaches to interpreting the Bible. Thirty-four chapters survey the most significant methods and provide introductions to the prominent people who exemplify them. Each chapter also presents an original document that demonstrates this person's interpretational approach and includes a ...

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What questions do interpreters ask of Scripture and how have those questions changed over time? History of Biblical Interpretation starts at 150 BCE and moves to the present in exploring the major developments and principal approaches to interpreting the Bible. Thirty-four chapters survey the most significant methods and provide introductions to the prominent people who exemplify them. Each chapter also presents an original document that demonstrates this person's interpretational approach and includes a reference bibliography for further reading. Whether used as a textbook or in individual study, this excellent introduction to the history of biblical interpretation will open new doors for students of the Bible, theology, and church history.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume provides a selection of biblical interpretations, dating from 150 B.C.E. to the present, with examples from the major schools, both Jewish and Christian. Yarchin (religion & philosophy, Haggard Sch. of Theology, Azusa Pacific Univ.) introduces each of the selections, some of which have been translated into English for the first time, and explains the many different ways the Bible has been interpreted over the years. Each mode of interpretation is given its due. The collection will be especially useful for seminary students but is also accessible to lay readers. Included is a particularly enlightening essay by Jon Levenson explaining the difference between the Jewish and Christian approaches to scripture and why Jews are not interested in biblical theology. The selections are well chosen and presented in a way that will make readers feel that they are getting the substance of the argument, not just a superficial reading. Highly recommended for larger collections and essential for seminary and theological collections.-Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801048159
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/2004
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

William Yarchin is chair of and professor in the department of religion and philosophy in the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction: The History of Biblical Interpretation xi
Part 1 Prerabbinic Jewish Interpretation (150 B.C.E.-70 C.E.)
1. Ancient Greek Translation of Hebrew Scriptures: The Aristeas Legend 3
2. Biblical Commentary in the Dead Sea Scrolls 9
3. Philosophical Allegory: Philo of Alexandria 18
Part 2 Patristic Interpretation and Its Legacy (150-1500 C.E.)
4. Christian Fulfillment of Prophecy: Justin Martyr 31
5. Penetrating the Inner Meaning of Scripture: Origen 41
6. Principles for Typological Interpretation: Tyconius 51
7. Figurative, Literal, and Christian Meanings from Scripture: Augustine 61
8. Anchoring the Text in History: Early Syrian Biblical Interpretation: Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret of Cyrus 76
9. Spiritual Application of the Bible: Gregory the Great 86
10. How Can a Text Bear Multiple Meanings? Thomas Aquinas 93
11. Medieval Recognition of the Literal Sense: Nicholas of Lyra and the Glossa ordinaria on Psalm 23 97
Part 3 Rabbinic Interpretation and Its Legacy (150-1500 C.E.)
12. An Overview of the Classical Jewish Interpretive Tradition 111
13. Halakic Interpretation of the Scriptures: Sabbath Law in Exodus 31:12-17; The Mekilta of Rabbi Ishmael; The Palestinian Talmud, Tractate Yoma 8.3-5; Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (Rashi); Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (Ramban, Nahmanides) 121
14. Haggadic Interpretation of the Scriptures: Psalm 23 in the Yalqut Shim'oni 140
15. Systematically Philosophical Jewish Exegesis: Sa'adia ben Joseph 149
Part 4 Modern Interpretation (1500-Present)
16. Renaissance Scholarship: Psalm 23 in Critici sacri 171
17. Allegory, Authorial Intent, and Christian Doctrine: John Calvin 184
18. Enlightenment Rationality for Understanding Scripture: Baruch Spinoza 195
19. Renewing the Jewish Past to Engage with the Present: Moses Mendelssohn 208
20. Historical Criticism Rigorously Applied to the Gospels: David Friedrich Strauss 218
21. Recognizing Genres in Scripture: Hermann Gunkel 236
22. Searching for the Origins of the Jesus Tradition: Rudolph Bultmann 249
23. Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation: William F. Albright 260
24. Disconnection between Ancient and Modern Worldviews: Langdon Gilkey 276
25. Salvation History and Modern Historiography: Christian Hartlich 290
Part 5 Late Modern Interpretation (1970-Present)
26. Canonical Interpretation: Brevard Childs 307
27. The Wisdom of the Fathers: David C. Steinmetz 320
28. Jews, Christians, and Theological Interpretation of the Bible: Jon Levenson 333
29. The Illusion of Objective Biblical Interpretation: Walter Wink 351
30. Rhetorical Interpretation of the Bible's Literature: Phyllis Trible 361
31. Nonobjective Validity in Literary Biblical Interpretation: Edgar V. McKnight 375
32. Unmasking Ideologies in Biblical Interpretation: Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza 383
33. Biblical Rhetoric and Revelation: Dale Patrick 398
34. The Multiple Voices of Postmodern Biblical Interpretation: Fernando F. Segovia 415
Timelines 430
Author Index 433
Scripture Index 439
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2004

    Essential for study of historical biblical exegesis

    William Yarchin¿s History of Biblical Interpretation is a much-needed addition to the study of historical biblical exegesis. It is the only volume dedicated to historical exegesis of which I am aware whose prime concern is allowing the reader to experience the primary sources rather than informing the reader concerning the author¿s understanding of the primary sources. This does not mean that the reader is left to his or herself without any guidance concerning the primary sources, however. Yarchin gives brief yet complete introductions to each source, setting them in context and guiding the reader concerning themes and perspectives to look for while reading the source. A primary strength of the book is its range. It is relatively short (429 pages of text plus introduction) while covering a span of twenty-two centuries. It is not the case, however, that the compendious nature of the book keeps it from being thorough. While I was unfamiliar with a good portion of the sources (many of which I had never heard of before), I am very familiar with works such as Origen¿s De Principiis, book IV and Augustine¿s De Doctrina. Yarchin has identified the heart of these works as I remember them and printed them for the reader. Because of this I feel confident in the assumption that he has done the same with the other works in his book. Another strength of History of Biblical Interpretation is that it is not only dedicated to historical biblical exegesis in the Christian tradition, but pays ample attention to the Jewish tradition of biblical exegesis as well. Since these two traditions share so many of the same texts, a history of biblical interpretation is incomplete without attention to both. Yarchin¿s commitment to giving attention to both of these traditions not only gives his reader a more well-rounded history of biblical exegesis, but also can contribute to the discovering of ways in which the exegetical traditions of these two religions can inform one another in the future. I was initially disappointed that there was not provided a summary essay at the end of the book. But what I would expect in such an essay is really presented in the introduction. I would strongly suggest anyone who has any interest in the history of biblical interpretation to read Yarchin¿s History of Biblical Interpretation. It not only provides much of the information one will find in some of the standard introductory texts concerning historical exegesis (although in a different format), but is also the best springboard to delving into more obscure, yet important, texts (which are ignored by most introductions) that I have come into contact with as of yet.

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