A History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 1: The Ancient Period

A History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 1: The Ancient Period

Alan J. Hauser, Duane F. Watson

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 2:00248898

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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 discuss 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 volume -- and those to follow -- will soon become a standard resource on the history of biblical interpretation.











writings were perceived as holding an honored and even, in some cases, revelatory status, various types of hermeneutical activities emerged in different sectors of Israelite society to keep these texts comprehensible, applicable, and relevant to audiences of successive generations. At times these activities were stimulated by perceived problems in the text itself (including difficulties in wording and grammar or insufficiencies of detail), but at other times they were motivated by broader changes

especially in regard to the teachings of the Torah. Although Greek Isaiah, along with the remainder of the books of the Septuagint, has been most often read by Christians, this historical phenomenon ought not to make us shut our eyes to the fact that the lexicological, historical and religious interpretations presented . . . are Jewish both as to form and content. It is, therefore, as ancient testimonies of the Jewish exegesis, that the Books of the Septuagint must be investigated and understood,

have distinctive nuances and significations that tended to be lost once the two roots were identified. More tentative is his placement into this category of the consistent representation of gêr ("stranger" in the specific sense of a foreign-born permanent resident) by proselytos ("proselyte," p. 175). Nor should we be surprised by the translation of "Torah" as nomos (usually, but perhaps inadequately, translated "law"). Given the rich field of associations occupied by the latter Greek term in

understanding: the Alexandrian Jews experienced an attack on their laws, synagogues, Temple and ancestral customs (see Flacc. 41> 47,50,53 a n d Legat. 6-7,115,117,152-57161,170,200,232,236,240,249,256 Thus these two treatises should be understood as a report on a struggle for the interpretation and application of the laws of Moses in the context of the Jewish community and its status in Alexandria as well as in Palestine. Thus, to Philo the relationship between the Jewish community and its

Tobit and Sirach also need to be added. FROM " T E X T " TO " I N T E R P R E T A T I O N " It is fashionable nowadays to assert that there are no texts, only interpretations, in the light of the claim that readers rather than authors make meanings, and that texts have no intrinsically objective meanings of their own. It is quite clear that in antiquity reading and interpretation were equally hard to disentangle, as is shown particularly by the genre now referred to as "rewritten Bible," in

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