The following is a review of Derek W. Taylor’s Reading Scripture as the Church: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Hermeneutic of Discipleship that I contributed to Studies in Christian Ethics 35(2) (May 2022): 418-421.
“I have chosen this passage from Origen because it illustrates that he regards metaphysics and biblical interpretation as closely connected. The way we think about the relationship between God and the world is immediately tied up with the way we read Scripture. This is something easily lost sight of, yet of crucial significance. I suspect we often treat biblical interpretation as a relatively value-free endeavor, as something we’re equipped to do once we’ve acquired both the proper tools (biblical languages, an understanding of how grammar and syntax work, the ability to navigate concordances and computer programs, etc.) and a solid understanding of the right method (establishing the original text and translating it, determining authorship and original audience, studying historical and cultural context, figuring out the literary genre of the passage, and looking for themes and applicability). Such an approach, even when it does recognize the interpreter’s dependence upon the Spirit’s guidance, treats the process of interpretation as patterned on the hard sciences. In other words, the assumption is that the way to read the Bible is by following certain exegetical rules, which in turn are not affected by the way we think of how God and the world relate to each other. Metaphysics, on this assumption, doesn’t affect interpretation. In fact, many will see in the way Origen links metaphysics and exegesis the root cause of why his exegesis is wrongheaded: the Bible ought to be read on its own terms, without an alien, philosophically derived metaphysical scheme being imposed upon it.”1
- Hans Boersma, Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis in the Early Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017), 5-6. ↩
My colleague at Providence Theological Seminary, Joshua Coutts, Assistant Professor of New Testament, recently presented a wonderful paper on the nature and use of Scripture at our Fall Biblical and Theological Studies Symposium. The paper was entitled, “Formed by the Word in an Age of Information: Recovering a Christian Approach to Scripture.” Another of my colleagues, Ed Neufeld, Professor of Biblical Studies provided a short response, in which he began by drawing some connections between Coutts’s paper and my essay “A Tale of Two Stanleys.” You can watch both the paper and response below:
One of the more prominent homiletical metaphors that is operative in the imaginations of preachers of many different stripes and backgrounds is that of the preacher as a bridge-builder between the ancient world of Scripture and our current cultural moment. Through careful rhetorical engineering, the preacher is able to construct a bridge that is capable of carrying the biblical freight across the chasm of the ages, in the process demonstrating its relevance for today. Continue reading The Preacher as Bridge-Builder: A Misguided Metaphor
There is an excellent essay by Hans Boersma in the current issue of First Things entitled “Fear of the Word” that grapples with some of the fundamental struggles and assumptions about Scripture that haunt preachers today. Here’s an excerpt: Continue reading Hans Boersma on Handling Scripture
Thomas G. Weinandy concludes his book Athanasius: A Theological Introduction (Aldershot: Ashgate, 207) with a set of brief, but penetrating reflections upon lessons that the contemporary North American church and academy would do well to learn from the 4th century Church Father. Here are a few of the incisive paragraphs on what Athanasius has to teach us about reading Scripture: Continue reading Athanasius Addresses the Contemporary Church