Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church is part of Ad Fontes: Early Christian Sources, a series designed to present ancient Christian texts essential to an understanding of Christian theology, ecclesiology, and practice. The books in the series will make the wealth of early Christian thought available to new generations of students of theology and provide a valuable resource for the Church. This volume focuses on how Scripture was interpreted and used for teaching by early Christian scholars and church leaders.
Developed in light of recent Patristic scholarship, Ad Fontes volumes will provide a representative sampling of theological contributions from both East and West. The series aims to provide volumes that are relevant for a variety of courses: from introduction to theology to classes on doctrine and the development of Christian thought. The goal of each volume is not to be exhaustive, but rather representative enough to denote for a non-specialist audience the multivalent character of early Christian thought, allowing readers to see how and why early Christian doctrine and practice developed the way it did.
that we need to recover the sense in which the Gospels are testimony. This does not mean that they are testimony rather than history. It means that the kind of historiography they are is testimony. An irreducible feature of testimony as a form of human utterance is that it asks to be trusted. This does not mean that it asks to be trusted uncritically, but it does mean that testimony should not be treated as credible only to the extent that it can be independently verified. There can be good reasons for trusting or distrusting a witness, but these are precisely reasons for trusting or distrusting. Trusting testimony is not an irrational act of faith that leaves critical rationality aside; it is, on the contrary, the rationally appropriate way of responding to authentic testimony. . . . It is true that a powerful trend in the modern development of critical historical philosophy and method finds trusting testimony a stumbling-block in the way of the historian’s autonomous access to truth that she or he can verify independently. But it is also a rather neglected fact that all history, like all knowledge, relies on testimony. (5; italics original)
Thus, it is perhaps not without irony that we find ourselves still under the sway of a certain kind(s) of testimony even when we seek most to avoid or to exercise our independence from testimony of some other kind(s) (cf. Gadamer, Truth and Method, 354; Lewis, “Meditation in a Toolshed,” 215).
At the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectureship at Dallas Theological Seminary, Klyne Snodgrass discussed a “hermeneutics of identity” in four parts.
Part 1: Theory and Theology
Part 2: Gospels
Part 3: Paul
Part 4: Church and Ministry
The whole series is excellent and highly engaging. Snodgrass repeatedly observes the New Testament’s consistent concern with issues related to identity, but he also clearly distinguishes the direction of the New Testament’s robust concern in this area from the directions that this concern’s poorer cousins have taken. Each lecture is around 45 minutes long, and taking about 3 hours to listen to the whole series is fairly certain to be time well spent.
This morning, Scot McKnight has an engaging post that addresses some ambiguities present in descriptions of “theological interpretation.” To move toward decreasing these ambiguities, McKnight proposes his own description of what interpreting scripture theologically should mean—namely, “read[ing] individual passages in the Bible through the lens of one’s orthodox, community-shaped, and confessional theology” (italics original). Read the whole post, particularly the concluding paragraphs, for some other, very good reflections on the interrelationships between theology and hermeneutics.