Exciting New Books and Their Promising Subject

The good folks at P&R Publishing have sent along copies of two of their recent titles for review: Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures by Dennis Johnson, and Scripture and Worship: Biblical Interpretation and the Directory for Public Worship by the great Richard Muller and Rowland Ward. These books deal with topics which have long been lively interests of mine: the normative character of Apostolic exegesis for the Church (one of the pillars of the redemptive-historical hermeneutics of “Old Westminster“), and Biblical interpretation in the Reformation and post-Reformation eras. To say that I’m thrilled to receive copies of these new and important publications would be a gross understatement. Many thanks to P&R!

Meanwhile, my undiluted enthusiasm for these books underscores what I’ve found over the years to be one of my chief research interests: the history of biblical interpretation from intracanonical exegesis to our day, and particularly in the New Testament, early Patristic and Reformation periods though not only from the perspective of its what, but particularly of its how. As the infallible Moisés Silva has put it:

“A different approach to the history of interpretation is one that focuses less on content (i.e., the results of exegesis) and more on principles and methods. The question then becomes not so much what Augustine and Jerome, for example, believed about the Antioch controversy, but rather how they reached their conclusions and how they justified them (by the way, these two hows are not always identical!). This approach has more direct value for the exegete. For one thing, we should not make interpretive decisions on the basis merely of who held which interpretation; we should be moved primarily by the reasons that informed the interpretive process. Moreover, reflecting on the hermeneutical principles used by earlier writers can help significantly as we seek to evaluate our own approach. In other words, not only does this kind of study help us decide among the possible interpretations of Gal. 2:11-14; it can also make us self-conscious of the strengths and weaknesses in our exegetical method.”1

A noble and challenging project, that!

And speaking of Apostolic exegesis and “Old Westminster” hermeneutics, Peter Enns, a professor of Old Testament at that institution, has made available online his excellent article in WTJ 65 (2003), “Apostolic Hermeneutics and an Evangelical Doctrine of Scripture: Moving Beyong a Modernist Impasse.” This is quite the thought-provoking piece, even if one can’t agree with Enns’ broader analysis at every turn. I heartily recommend it to all, in any case, as a most helpful exploration of this important subject. [H/T: Energetic Procession.]


1 Moisés Silva, Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method, 2nd. ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), pages 15-16.

14 responses to “Exciting New Books and Their Promising Subject

  1. Like I’ve said about a billion times before, I can’t wait to read your reviews… So like, get to it already! ;-)

    And thanks for the link to the Enns article — I’ll be sure to credit you, and you alone for the reference. Forget those energetic procession guys… ;-)


  2. I’m looking forward to your reviews also.

    Have you heard of the book Reading the Bible With the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can’t Learn from Exegesis Alone by John L. Thompson?

    Our library system has that and I read it a while ago. I thought it was good but haven’t read anything to compare it to.



  3. Nick> Ugh, fine, I will! Goodness, there’s no getting rid of you. ;-) And you’re welcome, of course. I’ll gladly take that credit!

    Mike> I’m very pleased to hear that! I have always found it very disappointing that Silva’s book hasn’t become a staple in exegetical courses across the board. This is an outstanding book, and it takes students through nooks and crannies of exegetical method that many “experts” avoid altogether. I can’t sing its praises enough!

    Jeff> I hadn’t heard of that book until now, but it sounds fascinating. I’m acquainted with John Thompson’s scholarly work, and can only imagine that this too is a masterful treatment of its subject. I see that the book was published by Eerdmans just a few months ago; I will try to track down a cheap copy next time I’m in Grand Rapids. Sorry I can’t be of more help there!


  4. I bought Silva’s book (second edition, 2001) per your recommendation. I’ve read the Introduction so far. This won’t be easy reading, but it will be rewarding. Thanks!!

    What did you think of Silva’s criticisms of Dr. Chrys Caragounis’s book, and Dr. Caragounis’s response?




  5. Jacob, you can’t possibly imagine just how thrilled I am to learn that you’ve picked up Silva’s book! I do hope you find it worth your while; I know that it hardly leaves my working desk.As for the Silva-Caragounis exchange, it seems to me that C. was unnecessarily hysterical about the whole thing. Frankly, the defense of his views makes C. sound to me like Gus Portokalos in academic trappings (“Give a word, ANY word, and I show you, how the root of that word, is Greek”). I think Silva makes what seem to be fair observations, and to take that degree of outraged offense only makes C. look like he thought his work was God’s gift to Greek scholarship and therefore beyond question. And in light of C.’s response, it’s really not all that hard to believe Silva when he says that one of C.’s problems is his penchant for overstatement!


  6. Tis quite easy to explain mi amigo. I contacted the chaps from Energetic Procession about the 2008 TBS and received no response, not even to decline. So feeling snubbed I will now not give them their propers when said propers are due. I will instead give them to you because you are Orthodox as well and it’s basically the same thing. ;-)


  7. Hey wait a minute jelly bean! Daniel and I said we were interested.We are both very busy and we do the blog at our leasure. We didn’t intentionally snub you. I don’t get to respond to everything I would like to. I forget stuff. I don’t know about you, but I have a family, grad school, and teaching responsibilities. So if you got left out, it wasn’t intentional, I assure you. Our apologies. We’re Orthodox. Sometimes you have to hit us a few times before we notice it as something other than suffering. 1 email doesn’t do the trick.


  8. Um, please excuse my buddy Nick there, who (in case you missed it) is only being a brat. He is, as you can see, quite good at it. ;-)


  9. To the Honorable Brother Minister Perry Robinson,

    I had no idea you were interested, and despite my cousin Esteban’s charge, I am not a brat or given to brattiness. I understand that you are busy, kinda, sorta, myself not being that busy at all. My life is one of leisure and I have to be honest in saying that I love it! ;-)

    I accept your apology and will cease and desist with my planned 26 part series which was set up to bash Eastern Orthodox bloggers. However, after Esteban’s comment about me being a brat I might have to reconsider my cessation. ;^P


  10. Pingback: The Prophet Amos and the Resurrection « The Voice of Stefan

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