A History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 1: The Ancient Period
Alan J. Hauser, Duane F. Watson
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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.