Tag Archives: theological interpretation

Thoughts toward reading scripture as Christians, and not only as historians

1. Hans Frei

I am persuaded that historical inquiry is a useful and necessary procedure but that theological reading is reading of the text, and not the reading of a source, which is how historians read it.

from [I’ve lost track of the source, but whatever it was, it can be found on page 11 of that work].

2. Francis Watson

Description [of an object of study] always presupposes a prior construction of the object in terms of a given interpretive paradigm. The assertion that historical-critical practice undertakes the “description” of the biblical texts is dependent on a prior interpretation of those texts as historical artifacts.

From Text, Church, and World, (Eerdmans, 1994), 33.

3. Joel Green

The meaning, truth, and authority of Scripture’s historical narratives cannot be tethered to or made dependent on modernist notions of history or historical veracity. Instead, with biblical narratives, the essential truth-claim with which we are concerned lies above all in their claim to speak, as it were, on God’s behalf — that is, to interpret reality in light of God’s self-disclosure of God’s own character and purpose working itself out in the cosmos and on the plain of human events. In this sense, the authority of these documents, read as Scripture, rests in their status as revealed history.

from “Practicing the Gospel in a Post-critical World: The Promise of Theological Exegesis,” JETS vol. 47, no. 3, (2004), 391.

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John Webster on the theological interpretation of scripture

The task of biblical interpretation is a function of the nature of scripture; the nature of Scripture is a function of its appointment as herald of the self-communicative presence of the risen one. […]

Proposals about “theological interpretation” of the Bible commonly lack an ontology of scripture. Theological interpretation is often described as a distinct hermeneutical strategy or interest — a matter of reading for certain theological themes (rather than proceeding no further than historical or literary content), or, perhaps, a matter of reading under the tutelage of the church’s traditions of interpretation, or of reading virtuously. Much can be said in favor of these claims, but they will only prove fruitful if grounded in a theological account of what Scripture is. Questions about interpretive methods can only be settled “metaphysically,” that is, by working out what the text is, who we are as its interpreters and what ends we are to pursue as we read it. The core of such an account is, of course, the doctrine of the triune God, who alone is the ratio essendi et cognoscenti [the logos of being and knowing] of all creatures.

from The Domain of the Word, (T&T Clark, 2012), 32-3.