Augustine: Allegory and the Good Samaritan

How would Augustine respond to modern day critiques of his "fanciful" exegesis of the Good Samaritan

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QOTD: Richard Hays on Interpretation

Richard Hays on interpretation,

That is a way of saying that texts can generate readings that transcend both the conscious intention of the author and all the hermeneutical strictures that we promulgate. Poets and preachers know this secret; biblical critics have sought to suppress it for heuristic purposes. At times, the texts speak through us in ways that could not have been predicted, ways that can be comprehended only by others who hear the voice of the text through us—or, if by ourselves, only retrospectively


To limit our interpretation of Paul’s scriptural echoes to what he intended by them is to impose a severe and arbitrary hermeneutical restriction. In the first place, what he inteded is a matter of historical speculation; in the second place, his intertextual echoes are acts of figuration. Consequently later readers will rightly grasp meanings of the figures that may have been veiled from Paul himself. Scripture generates through Paul new figurations; The Righteousness from Faith finds in Paul a new voice.

Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scriptture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989, p. 33

In , Tags richard hays, echoes in scripture, yale university press, , , intertextuality, figural interpretation

QOTD: Vanhoozer on "Meaning"

Kevin Vanhoozer and meaning

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In Tags , meaning, , , zondervan

Thoughts and Notes on "Calvin as Bible Interpreter"

The notes and thoughts below are just from my reading of the essay. I decided to post because the article gives an insightful look to Calvin as Bible interpreter.

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In Scriptural Interpretation Tags john calvin, , , cambridge, mckim

QOTD: John Milton on Ignatius



I'm currently reading Stephen Neil and N.T. Wright's excellent book, The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1986It provides a fascinating narrative overview of the history of New Testament interpretation. One of the more interesting sections describes the history behind the use of the Apostolic Fathers, especially Ignatius, in churches. Neil says, "If you approved of episcopacy, Ignatius was just your man; if you disapproved of episcopacy, Ignatius just would not do." Well, John Milton was one man who definitely disapproved of Ignatius and the episcopacy. He says,

Had God intended that we should have sought any part of useful instruction from Ignatius, doubtless he would have not so ill-provided our knowledge as to send him to our hands in this broken and disjointed plight; and, if he intended no such thing, we do injuriously in thinking to taste better the pure evangelic manna by seasoning our mouths with the tainted scraps and fragments of an unknown table, and searching among the verminous and polluted rags dropt overworn from the toiling shoulders of the Time, with these defomedly to quilt and interlace the entire, the spotless, and undecaying robe of truth.
— J. Milton, Of Prelactical Episcopacy (Works, vol. iii, p. 72)

It seems that Milton had a way with words and no doubt would have been a provocative blogger in our day.

In Tags john milton, stephen neil, , , n.t. wright

Book Review: Interpreting the General Epistles: An Exegetical Handbook (Kregel)

Kregel Academic is continuing their helpful Handbooks for New Testament Exegesis series with Herbert W. Bateman IV’s Interpreting the General Letters: An Exegetical Handbook. Bateman is also the author of Jesus the MessiahCharts on the Book of Hebrews, and A Workbook for Intermediate Greek.

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Interpreting Apocalyptic Symbolism in Matthew

Daniel Gurtner has a helpful essay in the most recent issue of Bulletin for Biblical Research (BBR)[1], titled “Interpreting Apocalyptic Symbolism in Matthew.” The goal of the essay is to outline a methodology for interpreting “apocalyptic symbolism in Matthew”[2] (I would say after reading the essay this could be applied to the other Gospels as well). After briefly summarizing the apocalyptic interpretation in Matthew he concludes that some, such as David Sim, place too much emphasis on “Matthew’s community”. While recognizing that apocalyptic literature typically arises out of an oppressed community he argues that Matthew’s gospel is not an apocalypse but rather a bios with apocalyptic imagery woven in. It is better to understand Matthew’s use of apocalyptic to “convey the meaning of history more profoundly than would be possible from a straightforward narrative” (544). Therefore, one loses sight of the reason Matthew is using apocalyptic writing when they tried to establish a community in which Matthew is writing in.

Gurtner says that the one aspect that is similar in all types of apocalyptic writing is symbolism. Since symbolism is present in post apocalypses (literary genre) and other genres that contain apocalyptic language (i.e. the Gospels) then this should be the interpreters entry into studying the apocalyptic writing of the Gospels. In order to identify and interpret these symbols he uses the interpretive methods G.K. Beale uses in understanding Revelation:

  1. When the symbol is not clearly identified by the author the interpreter must look at a “known commonplace association of a picture” (shared corpus)
  2. If the first option is not identifiable the interpreter should look at the “literal subject itself” (534). Gurtner notes that symbolic does not necessarily mean nonliteral. He gives the example of the exodus and the resurrection. Both events are highly symbolic (exodus = salvation/deliverance) but they are both understood to be literal events.

The rest of the essay provides an example using Gurtner’s interpretation of the tearing of the temple veil in Matthew. He has already done many studies ( dissertation, essay in JETS) but the purpose of this essay is to show the methodology of his interpretation rather than shed new light on the text.

Not having much history with apocalyptic writing I found this essay helpful as an entrance into the world of apocalypticism in interpreting the symbolic nature of the writing. The essay is worth a read as a helpful example of working through an apocalyptic writing within the Gospel narrative.

  1. Gurtner, Daniel. “Interpreting Apocalyptic Symbolism in the Gospel of Matthew.” Bulletin For Biblical Research 22, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 525–546.  ↩

  2. Gurtner acknowledges that the term “apocalyptic symbolism” is a “contradiction in terms. And, ironically, it is precisely this confusion in terminology that has led to confusion in interpretation” (525)  ↩

In Scriptural Interpretation Tags gospel, , , , gurtner, bethel, bulletin for biblical research bbr, temple veil,