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.