Review: The Future of Biblical Interpretation (IVP Academic)

The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics eds. Stanley E. Porter and Matthew R. Malcolm (IVP Academic, 2013)

I received a complimentary copy for review from IVP Academic.

I’ve already blogged about this book several times (herehere, and here) but I wanted to offer a general overview for those interested.

The Future of Biblical Interpretation arose out of a conference at the University of Nottingham in honor of the contributions of Anthony Thiselton. The book is comprised of eight chapters and an introduction/conclusion written by the editors. The focus of the book is answering the question, “How can readers of the Bible appropriately acknowledge and do justice to plurality, while being responsible as readers?’ (8)

The book is most accessible to those with some familiarity with Anthony Thiselton’s previous works but Thiselton’s opening chapter provides a good entry point into the discussion. Porter and Malcolm also provide a nice overview in their Conclusion (if you are unfamiliar I would suggest start with these two chapters before reading the rest of the book).

Each chapter of the book looks at the plurality in scripture from a different point of view.

  1. The Future of Biblical Interpretation and Responsible Plurality in Hermeneutics -Anthony Thiselton
  2. Biblical Hermeneutics and Theological Responsibility – Stanley Porter
  3. Biblical Hermeneutics and Scriptural Responsibility – Richard Brigss
  4. Biblical Hermeneutics and Kerygmatic Responsibility – Matthew Malcom
  5. Biblical Hermeneutics and Historical Responsibility – James Dunn
  6. Biblical Hermeneutics and Critical Responsibility – Robert Morgan
  7. Biblical Hermeneutics and Relational Responsiblity – Tom Greggs
  8. Biblical Hermeneutics and Ecclesial Responsibility – R. Walter Moberly

If you are interested in Biblical Hermeneutics this is a wonderful read. And if you are interested in Theological Interpretation of Scripture I would definitely suggest you read it because you will find several arguments for and concerns with theological interpretation.

Doctrine and Interpretation

Matthew Emerson over at Secundum Scripturas posted quotes by Scott Swain and Kevin Giles on the relationship between doctrine and interpretation. I thought I would add this quote by Robert C. Morgan I read this morning to the discussion:

Interpretation of Scripture is not simply a matter of exegesis, clarifying what the texts say. It has always been a matter of saying what (for Christians) they mean, and this meaning is shaped by an ecclesial context in which their Christian theological subject matter is presupposed. How that subject matter is understood is itself dependent on Scripture, and the ecclesial context is semper reformanda in the light of Scripture. Protestants and Catholics have accorded different weight to tradition, and taken different attitudes to a magisterium, but there has always been some kind of dialectic between the letter of Scripture and believers’ sense what Christianity or the gospel essentially is. The relationship between them is required by Christianity’s locating the revelation of God in that Christ witnessed to in Scripture…

Robert C. Morgan in The Future of Biblical Interpretation





Secular and Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Interesting quote from IVP Academics The Future of Biblical Interpretation

Nowadays competent Western interpreters from ‘any religion or none’ share methods that were largely pioneered by believers but do not presuppose religious belief. That can be welcomed as making possible a conversation between believers and nonbelievers about the Bible. However, nonreligious methods may foster nonreligious attitudes and perspectives…Most biblical interpretation has until recently been theological interpretation, done by believers with religious aims and presuppositions. Where these are absent or can no longer be taken for granted theologians need to be explicit about the character of their work and religious communities it serves. They may well admire nontheological scholarship on the Bible, but its independence of religious suppositions may reduce its religious value.

Robert C. Morgan

There is a lot in this one quote, thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?