Monday, January 21, 2013

Learning to Read the Bible from the Ancients

While making my way through Francis M. Young's fantastic book Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian CultureI came across this gem of a quote that strikes me as profoundly true and commonly ignored:

"Early Christian exegesis is best understood by considering the function of literature in the culture of the Graeco-Roman world, and discovering the kind of debates about exegesis that were then current." (p. 169).

This comes in her chapter explaining the hermeneutical division between the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools of exegesis in the fourth century. She suggests that the hermeneutical division parallels the tension between sophists (rhetorical education of Antiochenes) and philosophers (philosophical education of Alexandrians). I am oversimplifying her very nuanced argument, but I have found her case quite convincing.

Too often we think ancients read and thought like we do. This is a call to learn to read again.

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