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A Short History of the Interpretation

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A Short History of the Interpretation
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  A Short Historyof the Interpretation of the Bible Second EditionRevised and EnlargedROBERTGRANTwithDAVID TRACY FORTRESS PRESS  Contents This edition is reprinted by arrangement with Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. Biblical quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1946, 1952, 8  1971, 1973 by the Divi-sion of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and are  used by permission.Chapters l-15, copyright Q   1 3,1984  by Robert M. GrantChapters 16-18, copyright 0  1984 by Fortress Ress All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, elec-tronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the  prior permission of the copyright owner. Library of Congress atalog in Publication Data Grant Robert McQueen,  1917- A short history of the interpretation of the Bible.Bibliography: p.Includes indexes. 1. Bible-Criticism, interpretation, etc. -History.I. Tracy, David. II. Title. BS5OO.G7  1984 220.6’0983-18485 ISBN  o-8006-1762-2 (pbk.) Printed in the United States of America 1-1762 999897  10  11 12  13 14  15 16  17 18 Preface to the First EditionPreface to the Second EditionP ART 1 BY R  OBERT G RANT 1. Introduction2. Jesus and the Old Testament3. Paul and the Old Testament4. The Old Testament in the New5. The Bible in the Second Century6. The School of Alexandria7. The School of Antioch8. The Authoritative Interpretation9. The Bible in the Middle Ages10. The Bible and the Reformation11. The Rise of Rationalism12. The Nineteenth Century13. Roman Catholic Modernism14. Modem Protestant Interpretation15. The Interpretation of the Bible vii ix 3817 2839526373 83 92 100 110 119 126 134 V  vi A S HORT H ISTORY OF THE I  NTERPRETATION OF THE B IBLE P ART 2 BY D AVID T RACY Preface to Part 2 151 16.17. 18. Interpretation of the Bible andInterpretation TheoryTheological Interpretation of theBible TodayTheological Interpretation of theScriptures in the Church: Prospectand Retrospect 153167 181  Notes 189 Select English Bibliography 199 Index 205 Prefaceto the First Edition Fifteen years ago, when this book appeared as The Bible in the Church, American concern for the history of interpretation was notso widespread as it has come to be since then. Perhaps for this rea-son, among others, it now seems advisable to make some changesas the book goes forth again. The basic historical information re-mains much the same. My own views, influenced by further study,chiefly of the New Testament and of the early church, have beenmodified; and I have tried at several points to set them forth moresystematically. The principal changes, therefore, occur at the be-ginning and the end of the book. At the end I have decided to re-frain from prophecy, and, instead, to set forth what I regard as the basic principles of historical and theological interpretation. Thequotations from the Greek New Testament are in my own trans-lation.It would be impossible to express my thanks to everyone who by criticism, debate, or discussion has helped me to move a littletoward clarity; it would be equally impossible not to mention mycolleagues and students in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. 1963 R.M.G. vii  Preface to the Second Edition The first edition appeared twenty-one years ago. Meanwhile the-ologians and philosophers have been exceedingly active in thisarea, and I am fortunate indeed to have taken David Tracy aboardas our pilot. He brings the whole book into its new port. Mean-while I have made a few changes mostly in the first six chapters, partly out of further reading, partly for the sake of clarity. Both of us believe that the book holds together and has something rather straightforwardly theological (and historical) to contribute. 1984 Robert M. Grant ix  1 Introduction The story of the Bible in the church is a long and complex one. Inthe course of Christian history many methods have been employedin order to interpret the record of God’s revelation. For the inter- pretation of scripture is the principal bond between the ongoinglife and thought of the church and the documents which contain itsearliest traditions. In past ages it has often been thought necessaryto justify every doctrine of the church by explicit or implicit state-ments of scripture. And yet the scriptures are usually addressed tospecific occasions to meet specific needs. The universal and per-manent meaning of many passages of scripture does not seem tohave been intended by its authors. On the other hand, when scrip-ture is regarded as completely sufficient for doctrine, and at thesame time the needs of the contemporary situation are quite differ-ent from needs long past, some means has to be found for relatingthe ancient book to the thought and life of a later day. This task is performed by interpretation.It has been suggested that the more similar the situation of alater individual or group is to the situation of Bible times, the sim- pler will be the interpreter’s task. Such a suggestion does less than justice to the diversity present among those who in various circum-stances recorded their own responses, and their communities’ re-sponses, to the revelation of God. Environmental situations haveinfluenced prophets, evangelists, and interpreters. But in spite of the varying environments and the diversity of responses-towhich the author of Hebrews points in his opening period-thereis a unity which is based on a fundamental presupposition: Godlives and works in history; he has chosen a people to be his own;he has guided, and still guides, the course of this people’s life andwork, in spite of its rebellion against him. Without acknowledg-ment of this presupposition, at least as a working hypothesis, bibli- 3
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